Black Lava

Blackened Death Metal - Australia

Black Lava Band

Not even the most stifling period in recent history could contain Black Lava. Despite being kept under strict lockdown during the pandemic, these Aussies were just stewing together, waiting to erupt. Now, only two years removed from their smoldering debut, the band are roaring back with even more mythical firepower on The Savage Winds to Wisdom.

“Our second album is a step up from the first in all aspects”, drummer Dan Presland says. “We took more time on the songwriting. The Savage Winds to Wisdom shows exactly where we want to take our music”.

Though possessed by an ancient and mysterious alchemy, Black Lava formed with the ease of a natural spring. Over the past decade, all four members have crossed paths around the various corners of Melbourne’s metal underground. On top of their progressive all-instrumental vision quests in Vipassi, Presland also drums alongside Hadal Maw guitarist Ben Boyle in the grinding, tech-death, underground curiosity A Million Dead Birds Laughing. But when the two got together to blow off steam amidst quarantine at Presland’s newly minted home studio, they were pleasantly surprised by the darkness that swept over these jam sessions.

“Both of us were dealing with a lot of pent-up frustrations”, Presland remembers. A few weeks before, his flight home from America (where he was supposed to track the drums for Ne Obliviscaris’ fourth album Exul) touched down hours before Australia closed its borders. “But that anger, coupled with our need to keep creating, led us in a different direction”.

Progressive metal was still a clear undercurrent, but the songs that came spewing out were unusually heavy. Death and black metal held more sway, though sludgy rock n’ roll also found its way into the mix. Such a peculiar range of influences required a vocalist with a very particular set of pipes. Fortunately, Rob Watkins jumped at the opportunity to reunite with Presland, who was the drummer in their thrash band Metalstorm. With Watkins’ Blackhelm bassist Tim Anderson added to the fold, Black Lava burst onto the scene in 2022 with their smoldering debut.

Soul Furnace more than lives up to those lofty expectations”, Distorted Sound hailed, “proving to not only be a late contender for album of the year, but also one of the more impressive debut albums of recent years”.

Black Lava wasted no time in keeping the juices flowing. The band was already hard at work on their second album while the first one was hot on the shelves. The Savage Winds to Wisdom stirs from the same cauldron of influences. Lead single “Ironclad Sarcophagus” echoes from the crypt with eerie countermelodies and a  rhythm section that’s more bewitching than a spell book.

“I pictured this ancient wizard sending out evil vibes into the world in hopes of tricking someone into opening his coffin”, Watkins says. “When writing lyrics, I try and stay true to the spirit of metal. But really, I’m just channeling how the music makes me feel”.

If Soul Furnace was like stumbling upon the entrance to an ancient cave, then The Savage Winds to Wisdom is a fiery, full-blown descent into the belly of the beast. “Dark  Legacy” rings through the long black night with one sustained roar of a guitar roar, like an angry, one-eyed ogre. But while the songs came quickly, with Presland and Boyle carving out monstrous riffs and scaly grooves for Watkins to splatter his medieval fantasies, Black Lava took their time with this album. It’s not until nearly three minutes into the opening number, after “Colour of Death” has boiled to a full headbang, that the first of its many horns-up roars is unleashed.

“There was greater care taken with compositions on The Savage Winds to Wisdom”, Boyle says. “There’s more depth and layering to the riffs and melodies. Calling on a more broad list of inspirations and tones, the album has a real sense of balance, a certain quality that will lend itself to repeat listens and attention to detail, while still staying true to what Black Lava set out to do; create heavy, yet energetic and catchy anthemic tunes that tell a story and emanate a sense of atmosphere and power for the listener.”

True to its name, The Savage Winds to Wisdom swirls within a deeper and darker sense of atmosphere. Whereas before their bang-bang approach to songwriting resembled something closer to a punk rock band, this time around, Black Lava concentrated more on atmosphere. “Unsheathing Nightmares” reveals its root source of terror in careful layers, mutating from raw black metal and razor-sharp tech-death into a rainy, ambient  hellscape. “That’s one of the songs that really excited me”, says Watkins, who calls upon a coven of witches by digging into the slimier depths of his baritone.

The title track is big enough to stand alone as its own self-contained world. Winding  over the course of seven eventful minutes, it’s the longest and perhaps most ambitious song in Black Lava’s musical geology. Blast beats pound like hail beneath waves of distortion that crash with the force of a monsoon. “The silents of fate” Watkins reckons, like a sea captain stranded among the wreckage.  “The thousand winds swirl the soul”. Swept up by a screeching solo from special guest Ben Baret (Ne Obliviscaris), the song whirls into an unstoppable force, a torrential finale that brings this album to a truly epic conclusion.

“We sharpened our tools with this album”, the band says. “We went a little more brutal and that sets the tone for where we’ll head in the future.

On The Savage Winds to Wisdom, Black Lava conduct a perfect storm.

Line-up:

  • Dan Presland : Drums
  • Ben Boyle : Guitar
  • Rob Watkins : Vocals
  • Nick Rackham : Bass
Posted on July 8, 2024

Just two years removed from their smoldering debut, Black Lava are once again ready to erupt. The Savage Winds to Wisdom spills from the band’s sacred cauldron of influences. Blackened countermelodies and hexing prog rhythms boil amidst old-school death metal. Only this time, these Australian sorcerers have added a heavy dose of atmosphere, conjuring medieval fantasies that are bound to whisk metalheads straight into the pit.

Posted on June 11, 2024

Like any good sorcerer, Black Lava cast a wicked array of spells. On their new album, this blackened band of Aussies swirl together howling old-school death metal, eerie melodic dissonance, technical wizardry and sludgy grooves into haunting fantasies. Today, they’re releasing the third single off The Savage Winds to Wisdom, which is bound to stand as another crushing pillar in the band’s growing legend.

Posted on April 9, 2024

Though they formed during the first trying year of the pandemic, Black Lava erupted on their scorching debut. Now, just two years later, these Aussies are roaring back with more blackened heavy metal on The Savage Winds to Wisdom.

Posted on October 19, 2023

After coming together over frustrations with the pandemic, Black Lava boiled to a nicely charred head on their debut album. Despite surfacing toward the end of 2022, ‘Soul Furnace’ burned with such fury that Distorted Sound dubbed it a contender for album of the year. The blackened riffs spilled all the way to #2 on Australia’s Independent Albums chart, while Dan Presland’s heavy grooves and blast beats melted away Sick Drummer.

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