Backwater is back, these gents hail from Germany and were part of the original invasion of traditional heavy and speed metal that was coming out of this land during the mid-eighties with similar bands of that ilk being Gravestone, Restless and even as far as early Living Death. Like so many other bands of that period and geographical location, Backwater were not as prominent in the printed press as some other bands on bigger labels, so it’s doubtful whether many will know about their two albums released at such a glorious musical time (‘Revelation’ and ‘Final Strike’ 1984 and 1986 respectfully).
The opening track ‘Arise’ shows promise and still shows a similarity to their original releases, they always had a Motorhead feel to them for me, more speed metal but with a dirty vocal. On the aforementioned you get a hint of this, but it is much more refined. Further through the album the style and delivery changes dramatically to be more in tune with 90’s groove orientated thrash, it works, it marginally excites, but it does not have the same bite and delivery as something off their earlier two major releases.
‘Grizzly Bear’ sounds comical; it tries to have a “party” feel and is sung by a bloke with a strained throat, it’s a real weak point of the release if the truth be told. But then something that may tickle your fancy is a song called ‘Deepest Black’ which has a promising intro, then merges into what I would call mature average metal with a surprising stoner groove element. It is not in the classic metal vein at all and on the whole the release is a touch disappointing, especially as I rather liked their original material. They have tried something different, much like countrymen Grave Digger did a few albums ago, but what Backwater lack is the melodic element and the songs. They don’t have a positive structure and sound like a mash of ideas cobbled together after being written over a long period of time, there is little flow or consistency for me.
This is a band maturing and not relying on their past material to sell albums which to some point I am thankful of. It’s a completely different line up with completely different ideas and you should not expect anything to be so similar to ‘Final Strike’ or ‘Revelation’ albums, that period is long gone. This is not a classic metal or speed metal release it is a radical change of direction for this band. When I first saw this available for review I was extremely excited, having lived with this for a few weeks, frankly I am left rather cold and gob smacked by this sterile album that gets worse the further through the album you get.
(4/10 Paul Maddison)