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4 stars Another Great Swedish Prog Metal Album

Darkwater is one of those bands where, even though they don't bring anything revolutionary to their respective genre, they still manage to be incredibly impressive. Where Stories End is the second album from this Swedish group, and impressive it is! Every song is filled with hooks that grab you from the very beginning and depth that will keep you coming back for more and more. Sweden is a nation filled to the brim with superb progressive metal bands - I think it's time to put Darkwater up there with the best of the best. Lush keyboards, chugging guitar riffs, and soaring vocal harmonies all paint a perfect landscape on Where Stories End. Although there are a few small setbacks on this album, they are paled in comparison to the positives to be found in this hidden gem. There have been a lot of great progressive metal albums in 2010, and this is surely among the best of them.

Darkwater plays traditional progressive metal in the vein of Fates Warning and Dream Theater, and to a lesser extent, early Pain of Salvation and Queensrÿche. No, this isn't the most unique list of influences in the world, but it definitely works. Darkwater's sound is modern and fresh, yet still pays homages to some progressive metal classics. There's a lot of synths on Where Stories End, which can be or a good thing or a bad thing, pending on your own tastes. I personally really like the keyboards, but I can understand them sounding "cheesy" to some people. I think they sound great, however. There are 9 songs on Where Stories End, and all of them are terrific. My favorite is probably Why I Bleed. I absolutely love the chorus to that song. Every song is noteworthy, though. Without a Sound is also a really cool track.

The musicianship is terrific. An interesting little thing worth noting is the presence of Simon Andersson (ex-Pain of Salvation) on bass due to the departure of Karl Wassholm. Henrik Båth's vocals are fantastic, and one of the highlights of Darkwater for me. He simply has a great tone and terrific range. Magnus Holmberg's keyboards add just the right amount of atmosphere into Darkwater's music, allowing for Markus Sigfridsson to provide heavy riffing or terrific solos. Tobias Enbert's drumming is on the simpler side for a prog metal album, but that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable. He does a great job as well.

The production is a bit too raw at times, but it generally sounds really good. Thankfully, this isn't one of those annoying over-produced prog metal albums.


I was really surprised by Where Stories End. I was expecting an average progressive metal album, but it turned out that this is actually excellent. If Darkwater could develop a slightly more distinguishable sound, I could see them becoming one of the bigger names in prog metal. As it stands, this is one of the best prog metal albums to come out this year. If you like the genre and are looking for a really great modern release, Where Stories End should be high on your priority list. This is a BIG 4 star rating from me.

Report this review (#319847)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Think Redemption, Thunderstone, Pagan's Mind and Blaze Bayley (on a good day) and you'll get a good idea of the overall sound. Bold, melodic, complex mid-paced rock/metal played with astonishing technical skill and passion. This is my kind of music!

What makes this album special are the often surprising melody lines which stick in your head. These songs weren't written over a couple of pints one Wednesday afternoon .. they were crafted and honed .. and it shows.

There's nothing about the band name, album title, song titles, cover artwork or band photos to differentiate the group from hundreds of others. But the music .. ah yes, that is the real deal. Should I give 5 stars for my first review on PA? Well, this record makes me smile every time I play it, I catch myself humming some of the choruses when cooking, and it motivated me to register at PA and submit a review. So yes, this is a solid gold 5 star addtion to my record collection.

Report this review (#396840)
Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know that album in your head, the one you just don't have the talent to make real, well it appears that Swedens Darkwater have been rummaging around in my head because this is as close to the music i would make given the talent. Opener "Breathe" is everything an an album opener should be. There is some dazzling guitar work and a rock solid bass & drum combination. Baths' vocals have just the right melodic tone to complement the music. Its all suitably Epic in structure and tone. Epic is a fine word for the bands output. Second track "Why I Bleed" has an eastern tinged opening before unleashing the sort of pomp you associate with SAGA or MAGNUM, just that bit heavier. "Into the Cold" has a great guitar/keyboard dynamic and a truly fantastic mid song instrumental."Fools Utopia" starts with a nod towards Dream Theater and has an eastern tinged keyboard sound. "Queen of the night" is a real highlight, great guitarwork and album highlight drum work. The real problem this song has is the stupidly infectious chorus... If ahab had a hook this big he'd of landed Moby Dick. Any sort of serious airplay could catapult the band into the stratosphere. "Blink of an Eye" is the Lyrical highpoint of the album. Recalling Rage era Queensryche as the musical bombast layers over a bleak tale of domino effect dispair. "Fields of Sorrow" has another excellently bleak lyric and is probably the most musically varied song on the album. There is a beauty/beast mechanic within the music which works incredibly well. "Without a Sound" is the other outstanding single on the album. A powerful rhythm section drives the song and the band again show an ear for a catchy chorus. Album closer "Walls of Deception" is a suitably epic end to the album. The Keyboard work is beautifully understated and it provides a fine end to the album. Taken as a body of work its very hard to fault this album. Technically superb, with a real feel for melody and a fine vocal performance from Henrik Bath. Both Drum and Bass are used to enhance the songs and drive them along with real force whilst Holmbergs' Keyboards are just about perfect. There are some dazzling guitar solos but never at the expense of the song. In fact this is a band who seem to know that the song is more important that any flashes of virtuoso playing. As a result you have 9 beautifully crafted songs that never outstay their welcome. It can be said that they are not pushing the boundaries of the genre but that would be missing the point. Yes the influences are pretty easy to spot. Queensryche, Savatage, Dream Theater and Fates Warning are all nestled in their collective record collections and it lends the album an air of familiarity. However, all of those bands would be more than happy to release an album of this sustained quality. If they can get themselves onto the right shows and support gigs they have every chance of becoming massive which, quite frankly, is what they deserve on the back of this album. As i said at the start, this is pretty much the sort of music thats in my head (when the voices shut up) and as such this is the best Prog Metal album i've heard since Savatage were telling tales of DT Jesus. 5 stars all the way.
Report this review (#418193)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A little too heavy for me, yet I can see the attraction: like a more refined, more technically proficient and creative though heavier JOURNEY or LOVERBOY, BLACK SABBATH, 38 SPECIAL even a little bit of DEF LEPPARD. The keyboards and frequent tempo changes make this music stand out. The moments when there is an absence of guitar chords--where the voice and keyboards get to really stand out (e.g. "Why I Bleed," "In the Blink of an Eye," "Without a Sound"--are the moments that really show this band's special talents. So, while heavy and metal prog are not really my cup of tea, I begrudge no one their enjoyment of this music. It's very well constructed, very well performed, interesting, and often melodic. 3.5 stars. To me, it just doesn't sound new or different enough to warrant four stars.
Report this review (#419057)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I generally don't listen to a lot of progressive metal, but this album, Where Stories End, is just superb.

Something that usually turns me off of progressive metal bands are their tendency to be unbearably technical for no good reason other than for the sake of technicality, which is something that Darkwater seems to have eschewed from their sound. This album is full of wonderfully crafted, memorable, and catchy progressive metal with a few hints of technical prowess shown only at the right moments. Another thing that this band has that other progressive metal bands sometimes lack is a great vocalist. Henrik Båth has some great pipes, and he never uses his vocals for the prog metal banshee effect. The only other progressive metal band that I'm familiar with is Dream Theater (duh, c'mon...), and I'm thinking that I actually prefer this Darkwater album over most of DT's work for all of the above reasons. If you feel similar, then this album should be very comfortable. Another plus concerning this album is the atmospheric symphonic keyboard touches that really give this music an epic and spatial feel.

Definitely one of the better prog metal releases I've heard over the past few years. Highly recommended, and a great example of the road that progressive metal should continue on.

Report this review (#438247)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. "Where Stories End" is DARKWATER's followup to the amazing debut, and it's regarded by most to be just as good as the first one and I think it's close but...while I felt the debut ran out of steam part way through then picked back up this one has even more of those average sounding tracks but only a couple more. So yeah i've enjoyed this for the most part but the excitement I had with their debut didn't happen at all here. More of the same I suppose, plus i've been listening to a lot of DAY SIX's latest which for me is a better Prog-Metal album and it's hard not to compare when i'm listening to them during the same week.

"Breathe" opens with synths but it turns heavy quickly.Vocals after a minute. A good start. "Why I Bleed" opens with strings then it kicks in.Vocals before 2 minutes. I'm just not feeling it with these first two tracks.Strings end it. "Into The Cold" has a good heavy sound with an orchestral flavour though.Vocals after a minute.The best part of this track is the instrumental section beginning before 4 minutes. A calm follows but not for long.Vocals are back before 6 minutes. "A Fool's Utopia" opens with piano then a heavier sound rolls in followed by vocals.This is a good one.

"Queen Of The Night" is heavy to start as synths join in. I like the atmosphere after 3 minutes. A nice heavy soundscape follows. Excellent tune. "In The Blink Of An Eye" is another heavy track and the guitar sounds great 4 minutes in. Keys a minute later. Atmosphere before 6 minutes to end it. "Fields Of Sorrow" opens with atmosphere as it builds to a heavy sound.Vocals after a minute. It settles back 3 minutes in. It slows down after 4 1/2 minutes but it's still heavy then it picks back up.

"Without A Sound" opens with piano then things turn heavy. Lots of synths and heaviness before 4 minutes. Piano only 5 minutes in then it kicks back in. "Walls Of Deception" is another heavy tune but it's not as good as the last five.

3.5 stars because it's just not doing much for me. I don't look forward to playing this one like I did with the debut.

Report this review (#458394)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Out of the many European moderately progressive metal bands, Darkwater's Where Stories End is one of the most accessible albums. In fact, I can imagine a metal head taking his girlfriend, who is more into goth or new wave, to the show. Don't worry, boy, the band is technically proficient. Don't worry, girl, they won't hit you in the head with frenzied intros or sudden changes. Intros are mostly melancholically lush, melodic tweaks in subsequent verses and choruses, transitions between various movements and moods - from mysterious to the more agitated and, less often, more uplifting - smooth. For slightly more adventorous, but less refined, version of the same, check Darkwater's first album.
Report this review (#1056418)
Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permalink

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