“Spinning and turning and feeling alone. Understanding all the time. Forgetting things that are gone in the past. Facing the fate of time. Spinning and turning and feeling alone. Understanding all the time. Screaming and clawing and losing your soul. Digging a grave-less hole. Cause I, I stand alone, ashamed of this world. Now I’m feeding the wolf.”Feeding the Wolf… Blackwater Canal
In the days of old you got together with a group of friends, worked out who was playing what instrument at the time, and started a band. The same holds true to this day. But now more than ever there is a thirst for new blood. The scene needs it, and the people want it. One of my favorite sayings has always been “stagnation is death”. And both lie right around the corner just waiting for things to go stale. You can pump as many bands as you want into a scene, but if they aren’t fresh; if they aren’t bringing anything new to the table, the rot starts to set in. What serves to complicate this concept is that there needs to be elements of the old within the new. Think single-malt scotch from a metal distillery called Louisiana. There’s always little bit of the last batch in the next. You down it, and exhale heritage. There’s a new band in the boot that aims to step up and man the still. And their name is Blackwater Canal. As Blake Lowery (vocals) pointed out in our interview, even to this day that old Fat City southern metal sound has never left the hearts and minds of the people that embraced it back then. But he feels as though it is dying. And combined with their fresh perspective, this band aims to breathe a little heritage back into the scene.
Cemented in the tenets of the south has always been the blues. It is literally in every facet of our music culture and commands respect from all those intelligent enough to recognize its presence. Louisiana metal pays homage to, and draws inspiration from, the blues. I’m not saying metal in other places does not. I’m saying it is the mud in the waters for which we are famous. Another essential ingredient of this southern dish is the groove. As Jay Gracianette (guitar) puts it, “Groove is the biggest thing I found in all of the New Orleans (metal) bands. From Exhorder, to Crowbar, to Eyehategod, to Soilent. Everything has groove. And you can be heavy. You can be a ballet performer. It’s got to be memorable. It’s got to have some sort of groove…”
While the overall metal genre embraces multiple styles, many bands choose to remain in one lane and exploit the possibilities within to the fullest. Perhaps a little harder, maybe a little faster, but always remaining within bounds. The lesser common option is to use this multiplicate for a more comprehensive approach. Acid Bath was a gladiator in this arena. Take The Blue for example, one minute you heard blood curdling screams over what could best be described as the Amen Break (drum solo in Amen Brother by The Winstons), the next minute you heard harmonizing vocals over a simple 4/4 signature with rides and fills; back and forth with this, all in one song! And they exploded, sending shrapnel in every direction.
The time has come to once again to embrace what’s on the other side of the dotted line. And as co-producer on this album Vinnie LaBella (Exhorder) put it, it’s a hard sell. But frankly the era of musicians “pushing the envelope” by using extreme violence or showing more ass on stage has me ready to vomit. Autotune, by now, has asphyxiated us all. And the majors long ago lost the audio-sizing chart to what we choose to wear. There’s a clear difference between demanding respect and commanding it. And all of the previously mentioned elements knocked themselves out the box in my opinion. Often times those who demand respect are undeserving. But by the way they have chosen to carry the torch, Blackwater Canal shall command repsect. Their torches are dipped in the fat of Sabbath, Crowbar, Pentagram and Eyehategod. You can smell the flesh of their predecessors burning through the speakers. Their style is evocative of the sweet southern blues, honed to a metal’s edge. And like my favorite black and white film noirs of the 50’s, their lyrics delve into the seedier side of life. Blake Lowery’s cavernous vocals deliver the message. And similar to Kirk Windstein’s (Crowbar) approach, harmonies lie within. Jay Gracianette (guitar) and Steven Sessum (bass) could change their names to Gritty and Domineering, respectively. And respectfully, they deliver the listener a remembrance of that southern metal sound we all grew to love, while forging ahead to inject their own brand of passion. All of this teetering on edge is balanced in good meter by the super solid foundation they have found in Brian Ordoyne (drums). Together, they form like Voltron to see what parts of space they can go f**k up.
But these intergalactic pilots are far from teenagers. And this is where the roux gets thick. As we all know, nothing can substitute the knowledge gained from experience. For all the bands named before the start of this article, you’re looking at decades of just that, experience. By far, these words fail to convey the amount of time spent in the Louisiana metal scene by the members of Blackwater Canal. The realization of the proverbial 10,000 hours manifests itself in their design. In short, they’ve put in the work and it shows. But even considering how dope this sonic editorial has been, you need to go listen to these guys for yourself. Their album, titled Force Fed Lies, will be coming out on July 15th. It was produced by OCD Recordings and co-produced by Vinnie LaBella of Exhorder. Blackwater Canal will be performing live for the Album Release Party on July 15th at The Hideaway Den in Mandeville, at the foot of the Causeway Bridge on the North Shore. Thorn Prick and Gristnam will be there to fill the bill as well.
Listen to Shadows of Light by Blackwater Canal here.
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