(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
I can safely make such a claim, not based on any merits of my own, but founded exclusively upon the overbearing strength of this album. Those foundations were hinted at upon this quartet’s initial record for Ripple, 2016’s five-song EP, ‘Sabbath Highway’. Yet, what was touched upon at that time has now been fully realized and mined for the maximum yield of modern rock, doom, grunge, and alternative rock on this newest opus.
Make no mistake either, this IS a doom album and that is instantly established with the opening title track, “Black Abyss“. A deluge of Iommian riffery cascades down from the moment you engage the “play” button. Things slowly churn at times, while at others they wail with burden-heavy heft and density.
The song sets a high bar right from the start and one might question if the band have played all their cards too quickly here. Well, perish the thought, for things only get better and better with each new song experienced.
The chemistry that this quartet possesses is undeniable as these veterans of the music underworld, Tim Narducci (Vocals) Jeremy Epp (Guitars), Chris “Cornbread” Lombardo (Bass), and Carter Kennedy (Drums), work wonders in ways unimaginable to most. Their miraculous endeavors here were undoubtedly augmented by the legendary Max Norman‘s involvement, which I think they’d admit to without hesitation.
Metallic numbers like “Alien Lust“, “Buzzard“, and “People Of The Gun” are exactly that, contemporary constructs that consist of thrash and even speed metal elements. Each rolls with fierce intensity, pushing the players through their paces as Narducci’s vocals soar above the tight-knit clamor of the music beneath.
Then there are the jaw-dropping stand-outs presented here. There are several for me personally, but the first to arrive is undoubtedly “Oklahoma Black Magic“. This high stakes number is structured upon a solid blues base, but it is one that resounds with a sense of urgency. The jammy nature of things, such where Carter Kennedy‘s kit-work is astounding I might add, just adds to this enthralling delivery.
“Starfire” is the first song that I became enamored with when I first received “Black Abyss“, even now it is simply hard to beat. With dark vibes and a devil-may-care swagger about it, the number is the epitome of kick ass rock and roll. It is also another instance where everyone within The Watchers rises to the challenge and I can only imagine – and hope to witness – it being an absolute barn-burner of a live song.
But, when all is said and nearly done, there is one track that embodies what The Watchers are now, circa 2018. The track that pulls it all together, the heavy and the melodic, the dark and the light, the Yin and the Yang, if you will, and that is the album-closing “Seven Tenets“.
For those that recall the first snippets of “Black Abyss” music to be hinted at, shared with brief streams where a powerful riff rang out, well, this is where that riff originated. Speaking of riffs, this one and others, Jeremy’s guitar playing is the stuff of legends and I get the impression the dude really enjoys it, too. Not only is there emotion and feeling nailed into every note, but if you ever observe him playing, you can tell the guy genuinely loves it.
Overwhelmingly heavy, “Seven Tenets” arrives with a locomotive-like chugging, Cornbread‘s rumbling rhythmic pulses soon meld into it and eventually, Tim’s damn near perfect vocals flow, as well. The song has quickly become my favorite from this record and it provides a shadowy, haunting finale to this incredible album.
I could literally, and figuratively, rail on and on about how great The Watchers and “Black Abyss” are, but I believe my point has been adequately made here. Besides, as in all things, it is always best to let the music do the talking for itself. Ultimately, that is the best evidence for or against a solid album or band, either one, and I am confident that my claims will be validated to the utmost affirmative here.
Here are a couple of the band’s upcoming live dates, one of which sees THE WATCHERS once again playing The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 this June, alongside a bevy of other bad-ass bands.
JUN 22 – Maryland Doom Fest 2018 @ Cafe 611 Frederick, MD