Watch out! Because powerhouse musicians of BLAKDENIM are coming in hot with a brand new album. Having found initial success in Ottawa and through festival tours, the band is now hoping to bank on a more diverse range of sounds with their latest release. Let’s take a dive into Usual Suspects : Season III and find out what exactly BLACKDENIM are bringing to the table with their branded fusion of rock, hip-hop and soul.
The album sounds great, no questions there: the production is polished and very consistent throughout each song. Kenny Precise Creole’s emcee-ing skills are present on every track, and in my opinion was the highlight of this album. Each composition carefully respects the tropes of the genres they fit in, and makes for an easy-listening experience. That being said, my favourite track was “Champagne,” as I felt like it had the most attitude out of the bunch, and it also showcased Garrett Warner’s and Andrew Knox’s guitar and organ playing, respectively. With a lineup consisting of multiple instruments, including a brass section, it’s no wonder that BLAKDENIM has that mainstream festival appeal.
Now, where does this record stand amidst an absolute ocean of commercial hip-hop and R&B? I wouldn’t say many risks were taken, and I wouldn’t say that I could immediately pick out their “personality” from the album. In fact, I don’t think BLAKDENIM took enough risks on this album. Some variations in drum sounds, and straying from typical rock and blues structures, could have helped to make this album stand out. I was left wanting to see the more vulnerable side of vocalist Crystalena Paquette and rapper Creole, and although “55 in 54” was an effective political interlude, it felt out of place with the other soulful tracks. In that same vein, having Darryl “DMC” McDaniels feature on your album is never a bad thing, but don’t let him steal the spotlight.
I recommend this album for anyone looking for soaring vocal leads and groovy instrumentals, all while keeping it chill. Personally, I would have loved to feel more input from BLAKDENIM as a whole, but this is often a challenge with big bands. However, this can be a strength, and I have no doubt that Kenny and the gang use their manpower to the fullest to make for a great slot in any summer festival lineup.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Chris Aitkens