(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Everything changes and that is true for the Pittsburgh-based band fronted by former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, Blackfinger. For the project’s second studio full-length, “When Colors Fade Away“, Wagner assembled a whole new band to accompany him. Gone are everyone from Blackfinger‘s 2014 self-titled album, except Wagner himself of course. Now in are a guitar pairing that have both done time in the band Penance, Terry Weston (also of Dream Death) and Matthew Tuite, alongside bassist Matthew Cross and drummer David Snyder.
Also landing at a new label home for the release, Blackfinger are now one of the flagship acts for M-Theory Audio. The label is the new undertaking of former Century Media Records president Marco Barbieri and it had the good sense to sign Blackfinger.
With “When Color Fades Away“, Blackfinger seem to set themselves rather distinctly apart from Wagner’s other band venture, The Skull. Where that band revels in more Trouble-esque type material, either by connection to or outright playing of, Blackfinger is clearly its own unique entity. Now with that said, make no mistake that this band does indeed play doom music albeit with the incorporation of a lot of myriad other inflections.
For examples, there are the straight up heavy rock nods that come in the groove-driven numbers like the stellar “All My Sorrow“, “Afternow” or the opus-closing “Till We Meet Again“. Each is founded upon chugging guitars and rumbling rhythmic undercurrents, especially the latter track and its incredible, stand-out bass work.
As ever though, one of the most powerful aspects of the record is Eric Wagner himself…well, his vocals that is. He thoroughly explores a variety of avenues in the presentation of them. Yet, I personally feel that he excels at his utmost in the somber, more melancholy moments of the album. From the introductory title track, “When Colors Fade Away“, and on into the lamenting commiseration of cuts like “Crossing The River Turmoil” or the poignant “Waiting For The Sun“, Eric is at his best.
Eric at his best, as always, provides us the benefits of getting to experience said vocal perfection. With his performance on this album, which of course is enhanced by the stable of superb musicians he’s surrounded himself with, it’s quite easy to hear why he is the revered singer or artist that he is.
For me personally, the stupendous stand out songs from the album are the multifaceted tracks “Can I Get A Witness” and “Beside Still Water“. Each explores some diverse musical territory as the vocals accompany those explorations under their own power. Heavy and doomy (duh), laden with fiercely explosive guitars and intensified time changes galore. One minute things are abuzz like a hive of electrified instrumentation, whirling with activity as they stop on a dime and delve into another direction altogether.
Wrapping up, it is my adamant belief that Blackfinger have indeed forged a mighty leap ahead with “When Colors Fade Away“. The collection of songs are vivid, vibrant and visceral in their scope. Things are certain with purpose, created with cohesive craftsmanship and reveling in their far-reaching grasp. New band, new label, new album…ultimately, all combine to unveil that a new era for Blackfinger is underway.
Blackfinger “When Color Fades Away” was released back on September 15th, 2017 via M-Theory Audio. They will soon be playing a series of live shows and those dates can be found below.