There's a moment in the film “Walk The Line” about the life of Johnny Cash where someone asks him, "They say your music is slow as a train, but sharp as a razor," to which The Man In Black responds, "We'd probably play faster if we could."
Sometimes it's good to play it slow. There is a tendency, especially in metal music to ramp it up, to play double time and display your pyrotechnic virtuosity. But, like sex, the best rock n’ roll is slow and sensual, taking its time and feeling the nuances.
On their debut self-titled recording Blackwater Prophet, Spokane, Washington's Blackwater Prophet keep it in the pocket, playing an elegant brand of doomy psychedelic stoner rock that is patient and refined, bringing to mind classic doom merchants like Black Sabbath, as well as modern purveyors of blues rock and metal minimalism like The White Stripes, Kyuss or The Black Angels.
By keeping the tempos in the mid-range, Blackwater Prophet is able to stretch out letting their reverb and echoes fill the space to create a mood that is both rocking while still being mellow and contemplative. They create a mood that permeates the environment like black candles and incense allowing for the possibility of the miraculous.
"Down By The Riverbed" starts the trance off early with twanging acoustic guitars that sound like Neil Young playing "Down By The River" with African trance rockers Tinariwen. Right away, the visionary mood is established and spliced with some rustic vibes, sounds like some druids gathering in a secluded place, to open a portal. From the first track, you can hear the advantages of Blackwater Prophet's slow stateliness, as the guitar lines take their time; guitars ring out and chime in slowly unfurling melodies while the bass creates the ground beneath your feet with a simple and effective two-note groove that brings to mind John Paul Jones' grind on Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks.” When the simple but awesome wah solo comes in 2/3 of the way through your patience is rewarded and Blackwater Prophet's logic begins to make sense.
This is not music that shouts for your attention but rather invites you to listen and join in. Trance rock visionaries and psych warriors will be gibbering for this one, for those that take the time to delve into the vinyl grooves (metaphorically, as this is only available on digital and CD, so far).
This method seems to encapsulate the ethos of Blackwater Prophet. The songs that make up this self-titled debut were written over the span of three years and recorded during the summer in 2014. They have already opened for a number of huge psych names like The Meat Puppets, Pontiak and Rose Windows, and this album was released to a nearly sold-out audience. They've clearly built a following and took their time in constructing their inaugural statement.
This is a clear case of substance over hype; a band putting their time into writing songs and mastering their instruments rather than constructing Internet marketing strategies. Born from the ashes of house shows and dingy bars, Blackwater Prophet is a real rock n’ roll band, the kind worthy of celebration.
The mood is not all doom 'n witchcraft as the band frequently steps up to a romantic '50s twang like on "Kill 'Em All" or "Wicked Ways" where the opiated blues rock side of their personality comes out sounding like an outtake from David Lynch's haunted roadhouses in Twin Peaks. Clearly, Blackwater Prophet is not a one-trick pony, not merely "another stoner band," but rather archaeologists of downtrodden grooves. You can hear echoes of classics like The Allman Brother's "Whipping Post" on "Poor Man," just going to show the band has done its homework, and is drawing its riffs from all over showcasing an alternate history of visionary American music across country, the blues, folk, stoner rock and doom metal.
If you like slow metal that caresses as much as it pummels, if you rejoice at flying saucer acid rock phase and wah solos or bass that slowly undermines your mind with its pummeling tumult, you have come to the right place. Blackwater Prophet has attitude and edge but still invites you to take part in their incantation. They welcome you into their world. It's fun here, and interesting, even if it is spooky and terrifying. It's worth traversing the shadows for lights this bright.
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