Blackmaker
"Staggering to the Surface"

(Kentland Records 2004)Blackmaker - Staggering to the Surface

Chicago rock band Blackmaker's album, "Staggering to the Surface," persistently fluctuates, unsure of exactly what it wants to be. One moment, the band comes across as modern rock, smartly avoiding over-polishing the production -- a trap that so many similar bands fall into. By the next track, Blackmaker lean more toward hard rock as guitar riffs charge strongly ahead and the assault on the drum kit is seemingly unending. The band even throws in some power ballads just so that you know, indeed, that they have a sensitive side.

Thick guitar riffs and hard hitting drums grab your attention and pull you in on "Revolution" while the energetic and catchy rhythm of "Wicked Tongue" keeps your interest. Guitarists Reggie Raisner and Mark Grzelak lead a dramatic and full instrumental assault on "Not Impressed" and "Novacaine." Familiar and smooth melodies like "Things Get Any Worse" and "Good Day" deliver respectable rock moments while crashing power chords dominate "Spiraling" and the tender ballad "All About a Girl," which steers things in an unexpected and decidedly not hard rock direction.

Blackmaker manage to maintain their focus for the majority of "Staggering to the Surface," keeping, more or less, a consistent sound. What is more, the band really sells their sound, delivering their music with unwavering confidence. But soaring guitars and rough rock 'n' roll vocals can only get you so far and Blackmaker still need to step into the spotlight, take more control, and distinguish themselves from their hard rockin' peers.

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