After nine years, six years in 2013 after announcing that they were going to be releasing an album four years ago in 2015, Darkwater has finally released their third album, Human. Given the fact that its been nine years coming, for them to finally release it has me jumping off the edge of a cliff with excitement. I’d probably kill myself jumping off, but hey, at least I’d die with headphones listening to Darkwater
But that would be counter-intuitive to the point of Darkwater’s new album. See, with this album, it’s all about a celebration of life, an affirmation of living in the world and sharing our lives with others, both through struggles and high points in this journey through time. That sums up the highlight fourth track on the album, “Alive II“. With where we’re at in our awareness with mental health and getting treatment for mental illness, it’s encouraging to see multiple metal bands, both lesser known and well-known, encouraging people to seek help for these things. ‘Alive II’ in fact, is more a song about the flaws of someone considering suicide due to who they perceive themselves as than a song about wanting to die. For this song, it’s all about understanding that who you are and where you are in life when you have those thoughts is not what things need to be permanently. We don’t have to be stuck in those thoughts of despair, and even if they come, we can fight them and do better for ourselves.
The album’s first single is also the first song of the album, appropriately titled “A New Beginning”, a song about moving with the motions of life by fighting for the truth of reality rather than being brought down by what is described as a ‘fallen angel’. This fallen angel could be seen as a symbol of people and places that would try to crush your dreams and relegate you to being something or someone you don’t want to be. With keyboard parts that scream 80s with a great sense of modernity (just listen to the keyboard solo… come on, they’re not an 80s metal band, but those keyboards are just… I hope they’re analog), catchy, progressive metal riffage and the nice vocals of Henrik Bath, the song is a blend of multiple nuances and identities that form a great whole of a band only on their third album and with ample room to grow.
“Insomnia” is a big highlight track for me, with a simple, straight-forward guitar riff that opens nicely, shortly after approached by a higher register keyboard part that follows together along a path of the same rhythm. The dark, eerie nature of the song shadowed with references to insomnia and sleeping without a particular someone. Who that someone is could be anyone, I just don’t know who for you, or Henrik, or everyone else for that matter.
In terms of where this album stands in the discography of Darkwater, I do think this is their strongest release, at least for me. The fact that it’s their most up-to-date album in terms of both time period and production means that not only is it a great sounding record to listen to, but they only have even more room to grow from their first three albums. Their first two albums were great Freshman and Sophomore albums, but Human is a leap into the big leagues, and I hope Darkwater continues with the sound, while also expanding on one particular aspect: variations in the guitar riffs. While great, the guitar riffs could use more variety on the next album.