By Matt Hinch
Canada’s Maritime provinces have long been known for a thriving music scene. However, that music is (at least to my knowledge) largely “Maritime” sounding. You know, fiddles, acoustic guitars and such. Yes, I’m generalizing. But it’s okay. I had an Ashley MacIsaac CD once. That doesn’t mean I expected Black Moor to be playing electric fiddles through distortion pedals, as cool as that could potentially be. (cough, Sub Rosa. cough. Electric violins. cough. My #2 album of 2011. cough. Nautical/Maritime a cappella folk song. cough) I also didn’t expect their new release, Lethal Waters, to be so mother-lovin’ catchy either! These Nova Scotians dropped the bait and snagged this writer hook, line and sinker.
Although the NWOBHM era is one in which I am woefully under-schooled (I can hear my peers all shaking their heads now.), it’s obvious that genre is what puts the wind in Black Moor’s sails. The first shot across the bow signaling their old school tendencies is the galloping rhythms employed by lead guitarist Evan Frizzle and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Eric Hanlin. Drummer Kenny Meyers and bassist Rob Nickerson anchor the band firmly with their rock solid playing. Frizzle and Hanlin’s plentiful solos are tasteful and confident. They display their ability to shred like beasts without making it the focal point of the song. They don’t leave the rest of the music “Lost in the Shadows”.
Hanlin’s vocals do take a little getting used to. My initial take on the style was “Is Weird Al fronting Maiden?” Subsequent (at least twenty) listens have tempered that impression but the vocals are nice and clean for the most part, although some harsh winds blow in on “Night Danger”. By which I mean some screamed vocals appear courtesy of, I suspect, Frizzle (a la 3IOB). That track, which happens to be my favourite, is also the most stylistically different from the rest of Lethal Waters. Not that a big difference is necessary. Every song is solid. As expected, the lyrical fare leans on the fantastic. However, some more contemplative pieces are mixed in. As well, there are a couple numbers centered around man’s struggle with the more terrifying species of nature. Upon closer inspection, it appears that many of the tracks have been inspired by the world of film. (Although not as blatant as Graf Orlock.) It seems I have some homework to do to discover the characters which have served as Hanlin and crew’s muse.
Lethal Waters is a surprisingly good take on traditional heavy metal in the vein of Iron Maiden (“Hellraiser”, “Midnight Warrior”, “Hatred’s Maze”) splashed with early 80’s thrash, particularly Megadeth (“Lethal Waters”, “Thunderhead”) and delivered without a hint of parody. This is genuine admiration channeled into a modern interpretation. These lads play from the heart and it shows. Lethal Waters is the long-line being dragged behind Black Moor’s ship. All along the way there is something to catch multiple species of metalheads and haul them onboard.
All hands on deck!