Throw a dart at a map of the British Isles and, whatever denomination of the genre you’re looking for, you’re bound to find a burgeoning metal scene wherever you land. Glasgow’s Blackwork seem to be one of those bands who are as yet restricted by their hometown scene, judging by their competent yet unremarkable debut EP Impasse.
Having said that though, as an example of melo-death, Blackwork aren’t bad enough to be deemed truly awful, nor are they good enough to be amazing. Impasse follows the usual tropes of death metal in a very by-the-numbers fashion, though not completely without merit. Josh Graham packs a decent level of vitriol in his raspier vocals, especially in the lower-ranged chorus of Unguided. There’s also a clearly talented instrumental backbone throughout, especially in low-slung chug of Rust, revealing Blackwork’s very comprehensive knowledge of the genre they occupy.
But that’s where most of Impasse’s faults lie, in that such a clear influence results in little to no innovation. Yes, Rust‘s news report sample offers a brief reprieve from their all-out assault, but other than that, the tracks on this EP feel like either imitations of other songs, or bumpy collages that crib elements from a litany of other sources. It makes for a tiresome listen, but at least in the actual playing aspect, there’s a tightness and cohesion that’s nothing if not impressive. But then there’s also the case of the EP’s physical make-up, another area where Blackwork stumble. Ignoring that the drums sound far too flat compared to the riffs and vocals, there are songs here that feel more like pieces soldered together rather than fully cohesive units, as in Filthist or the six-minute long closing title track, which attempts to fit together passages of heaviness and calm, but feels all too hackneyed in its approach.
For all its faults though, Blackwork show a definite proficiency that’s likely to do well for them in the future. But there’s still a long way to go as far as Impasse is concerned, and only by improving with see Blackwork reap any sort of reward.
For fans of: Sylosis, Lamb Of God, Xerath
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Impasse’ by Blackwork is released on 25th March.