Review: Blacq Forest Audio – Soak in Digital Oil

This review was commissioned. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.

New Zealand artist Blacq Forest Audio is attempting to storm the scene with his debut album “Soak in Digital Oil”. The unfortunate news is that this storm is nothing more than a gust of passing wind that puts a slightly annoying breeze in your face before vaporizing into nothing. His combination of industrial hip-hop, noise rock, drum and bass, and other influences fails to ever capture my attention and can be quite an embarrassing affair to enjoy play aloud. 

We can easily start off with ‘Holy Fuck, I’m Hot!’ as a reason why this album is a bit disastrous. While I gather the sense of humor Blacq Forest Audio was going for in this track (who doesn’t like a song that boasts their self-esteem?), this does quite the opposite for me. The song promises big beats and big bass but when I play the song there’s no thunder. Not that that’s a bad thing; if you want a quiet song, go for it. But this song is aiming for the opposite without every primarily committing to that ideal. It’s supposed to be this filthy, dirty industrial dance track but never gets there thanks to demo-quality production values and pretty horrid, off-beat vocals with awful digital effects attached. It seems like a song with multiple ideas attached that don’t work.

Blacq Forest Audio goes for an electro-acoustic song with ‘Doomed User’ as the sixth track on the album. A brief two-minute and some seconds foray that’s a spectacular letdown. While I get that he’s going for some kind of minimalism, it’s a very boring and repetitive track. His voice, again, doesn’t carry much weight. While it doesn’t sound bad, it doesn’t sound great either. It’s mediocre. And I’m not going to sit here and listen to a mediocre voice.  

There are some songs on the album that have a thing or two going for them, such as ‘Down Vampire Grove’, but are still held back by a few flaws. ‘Down Vampire Grove’ is inspired by Depeche Mode and while it isn’t a bouncy, synthpop club hit, the beat is melodramatic and relaxing. Something I can bob my head to whilst walking my dog early in the morning. But the vocals just aren’t that great; a bit overpowering in the mix and it just sounds as if Blacq Forest Audio is an untrained vocalist. And that never vibes well. The same can be said for ‘Swimming in the Quay’. As far as the beat goes, this is one of the better tracks on the album. It’s quite good, and the rapid-fire electronic delivery calls for faster lyrical delivery which is what Blacq Forest Audio delivers. The only thing holding this one back is production value, and I do not think that some of the shouts on the track were necessary. 

 This is also a classic case where I could continue on to talk about the album, but much of what I said above can apply to any of the other songs found on “Soak in Digital Oil”. ‘Cry When You Dance and Pretend It’s Sweat’ has poor production and everything sounds muddy, ‘Me and My Microphone’ has vocals that don’t fit the song too well, ‘As Stunning as a Bad Dye Job’ uses an awful equalizer effect on the vocals that sounds like someone’s going through puberty, so on and so forth. 

I think the main issue with Blacq Forest Audio is that the musician does not know what he wants to do. Obviously, he wants to make music, but he does so with the intent of squishing every influence he’s ever come across in his career into one album. Rather than taking it step-by-step and coming into his own shoes, he’s mismatching and choosing the wrong fit. A lot of bad choices without much payoff. 

Apr 16 2023

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