By Mike Maher

Darkwater is an excellent melodic progressive metal band from Sweden. Formed in late 2003, Darkwater played only a few select shows in Sweden while working on their debut. The album was recorded and mixed in 2006, and in early 2007 the band inked a deal with Swedish label Ulterium Records. The album was recorded in several studios and mixed by Goran Finnberg, who’s worked with In Flames and Dark Tranquillity.

I’d heard that “Calling the Earth to Witness” was a great album. I got Ulterium Records to send me a promo (Fast too! Thanks guys!) and popped the cd into my car player, excited to hear about something new and that was generating a bit of a buzz on several forums I read regularly. Sweden always makes me think of “Gothenburg Era” melodic bands, especially older In Flames material (Ya, ya. I know its melodic death!). I love this album. I even started to jot down some notes on my second listen because I was so pleased with it. So, let me shout to the heavens that Darkwater steps up with Calling the Earth to Witness and seizes its place in the melodic prog-metal genre.

The album features eight tracks of purely outstanding progressive metal (plus a thirty second intro track), that I find similar to my favorite band of all, Circus Maximus, and other melodic progressive-metal bands like Cloudscape and Pantommind. Guitarist and vocalist Henrik Bath has a great voice and I even find it a bit unique in a genre of high pitched voices. He has a strong delivery and when singing in softer songs has an emotional punch. The keyboards and guitars provided by Magnus Holmberg and Markus Sigfridsson, respectively, work to compliment each other wonderfully. Also I am usually pretty deaf when it comes to bass and drum, since I am a guitar guy, but the bass and drums are not dropped back in the mix and several times when I’d hear a long bass note in “The Tallest Tree” I thought my phone was ringing on vibrate, but it was only a bad ass bass. Top songs include “Again,” “Habit,” and “Tallest Tree.” Actually, “Tallest Tree” is the stand out song for me with excellent hooks, a killer piano line and catchy vocals. Also check out the piano on “The Play Pt.1”.Good stuff!

I’m really pleased to find bands that delve deeply into the melodic metal/progressive metal mix. I predict that this album will take up a lot of playing time for me this year, along with the yet to be released Isolate from Circus Maximus and the recently released and godly Paradise Lost album from Symphony X. Fans of any of the bands mentioned above, except maybe In Flames as there are no growls here, should definitely check this band out. I’m giving these guys a solid 9.0. Maybe it’s just hitting me at the right time, but it’s the kind of music I’ve been looking for!

Head over to their myspace for samples:

Or their website: