Blackfinger is a doom rock/metal band hailing from Pittsburgh, USA. If the band’s name does not ring a bell, which isn’t all that strange, I’m sure its frontman’s name definitely will. The mastermind behind this in 2012 founded band happens to be none other than former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, who is renowned for his characteristic voice, pretty much Trouble’s trademark for many years. He put together a relatively unknown group of musicians to materialize Blackfinger and managed to release a solid self-titled debut in 2014. That line-up was short-lived though, because nowadays none of them remains a member of the band. Save Eric Wagner of course. He teamed up with fellow doom-celebrity and Penance- and Dream Death guitarist Terry Weston to form the new backbone of the present day Blackfinger. The new line-up is completed by Matthew Tuite on guitar, Matthew Cross on bass and David Snyder on drums, again pretty much unknown musicians. The band’s aptitude test comes in the form of a new album to be released later this month called When Colors Fade Away. The title is not chosen randomly, it was thought up by Eric when he was listening to his debut Blackfinger shortly after completing it. The main concept of that album was the feelings various colors conjured up, making it a logical step wondering what it would be like when there are no colors anymore, which can be translated into real life as the loss of all hope.
With a title like this you’re bound to be heading towards a date with misery when playing this, but the reality is that it isn’t that dark and ominous at all. The overall atmosphere is definitely not one of pain and sorrow despite telling titles like When Colors Fade Away, All My Sorrow and Crossing The River Turmoil. The at times overwhelming melancholy and the slow, lingering sound that is present in many of the songs unmistakably classifies this as doom, yet there’s something to this one that lightens the atmosphere, giving it a more dreamy, mysterious feel to it rather than a gloomy one. Of course Eric’s one-of-a-kind voice and vocal style is a huge contributor to this, but it’s not just that. There’s a certain frivolity in the song structures that amplifies the effect of those vocals, creating said atmosphere. So approaching this as a pure doom release wouldn’t be right nor do this piece of work justice. When Colors Fade Away consists of multi-layered, well-composed songs with an emphasis on guitar work, but with enough room for the rhythm section to grab their moments of fame. All songs are built around the vocal lines that are fittingly unfitting the rhythm, as if they are an entity of their own. Despite the way this might sound it does work out very well. Eric’s voice is a beacon of rest, vaguely reminding me of a pleasantly creaking old door. Music-wise there’s quite a lot to discover, with various more or less subtle influences from other genres. A good example are the bluesy influences that can be detected here and there, specifically in Afternow, but Black Sabbath certainly put its mark on the music as well.
Concluding it’s safe to say that this release will appeal to a wide audience. It has the dark elements of a doom album, the more heavy pieces to please the metal oriented fans and the frivolity to keep the atmosphere from becoming too sad and dismal. The strongly guitar based compositions are plenty varied to keep you focused and avoid boredom and the vocal lines add that extra special something, not in the last place due to the timbre of Eric’s voice. Despite the fact they replaced all but one of their members for their second release Blackfinger managed to avoid that being an issue and deliver a great album that is well worth a thorough listening-to.
Check part 12 of Promoting Bands, in which we already mentioned Blackfinger, here.