Black Swamp Water formed in 2011 in Silkeborg, Denmark and released their debut EP, ‘Hellride’ in 2014. The band’s debut album, ‘Chapter One’ (2016), received both rave reviews (including from DTFM) and airplay on National Danish Radio and MyRock, and their exuberant live performances got people talking, earning them a reputation as a band not to be missed. Fast forward two years and the band are about to release their second album ‘Distant Thunder’ via Mighty Music on 24th August 2018. Despite hailing from Scandinavia, this band have a distinctly southern rock tinge to their sound, and cite Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Down, Corrosion Of Conformity and Black Label Society as some of their influences.
The southern blues feel is clear from the off as the sweet sound of the banjo on album opener ‘Badlands’ rings out. It’s a short, slightly pensive instrumental that gives us a taste of things to come before fading off and leading us onto ‘Bitter Harvest’…that fantastic banjo starts things going again, but this time it’s joined by some thunderous drumming from Kim Langjær Jensen. A chugging bass and riffing dual guitars join the party and the sound is immense…like a massive dirty southern rock festival going on in my head. The riffs get my head banging, the bass and drums really coming together to drive the song along and the vocals flying over the top and tying everything together.
‘Live Your Darkness’ builds slowly from the start, really giving vocalist Bjørn Bølling Nyholm a chance to show that he also has a softer side to his voice than perhaps indicated on the previous track. This song really shows off his range and control. It also has some intense riffage happening, the dual guitars soaring together and sounding astounding. ‘Rebellion’ is an anthemic track that is sure to get those horns in the air when these guys play live. The riffs grow in intensity as the track progresses and the sing-a-long-lyrics “rise up and everyone will follow, lead them, make the oppression cease… stoke the fires of rebellion, conquer for freedom finally”, had me singing along by the second chorus. It’s impossible not to headbang along to, it’s infectious!
The vocals on ‘The End’ have a different sound altogether; they have more of a floaty, ethereal quality, and I can picture the whole crowd at a gig with the torches on their phones on, lighting up the room. It’s a raw, emotionally poignant song about death that I found utterly heartrending. The desolate atmosphere is lifted by the tuneful melody and singing guitars from Martin Lykke Hansen and Jan Geert. After all that emotion, I’m ready for the heavier ‘The High Road’, with it’s booming bass courtesy of Jeppe Birch Friis and incredible drumming from Jensen. A softly played acoustic guitar signals the beginning of ‘You Disappear’, a soulful song containing every element of your typical classic rock ballad. I love how you can hear each instrument individually, and hear just how accomplished these musicians are, and Nyholm’s vocal is just incredible. It’s emotional, it tells a story, and I reckon it would send shivers up your spine in a live setting.
‘On My Own’ ramps up the tempo, and how! The guitar riffs on this track are outstanding, the drums and bass are in perfect harmony. It’s hard rock that takes no prisoners and makes no excuses. Things slow down again slightly for the brilliant ‘Defiance’, with its accomplished guitar riffs and military-style drums. ‘Rise’ is another full on assault on the senses where every instrument sounds awesome. The rhythm section leads the way, powering through the song, the guitars and vocals weaving in, out and over the top. It’s fists in the air, balls to the wall stuff. ‘Down For Good’ is the perfect album closer to ensure you don’t forget Black Swamp Water in a hurry. It’s a fast paced rockin’ tune rammed full of thwacking drums, resonating bass lines, soaring vocals and scorching guitar riffs. Brilliant stuff.
‘Distant Thunder’ has a little bit of something for everyone. There’s dirty southern rock, elements of blues, hard rock, a ballad. The lyrics are intelligently written, and you can hear the emotion both in the vocals and in the way each of the instruments is played. There are some really exciting European bands around at the moment, and Black Swamp Water is definitely one of them!
‘Distant Thunder’ track listing:-
Live Your Darkness
The High Road
On My Own
Down For Good
Black Swamp Water is:-
Bjørn Bølling Nyholm - vocals
Jan Geert - guitar
Martin Lykke Hansen - guitar
Jeppe Birch Friis - bass
Kim Langjær Jensen - drums
Find out more about the band here:-