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Album Review: CROWHURST II

Posted by on September 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm

There is something strangely reassuring to me about experimental black metal. It's the sort of thing that hints at darker futures and weird sound worlds, twisted truths and sadder realities.  Crowhurst are the ambassadors for a genre that god forgot. Their latest record, II, is six tracks of torn up and savage experimental black metal. The band is tortured and broken, bloody and furious. Crowhurst not only have songwriting chops for days, but they have a sense of internal trauma that makes an album like this all the more meaningful and potent. It forces you to take another look at the musical tropes that so many of us have gotten far too used to over the years. Crowhurst isn't just rock and roll's latest and most demented stepchild, it's the sound of the world coming apart at the seams while losers like me desperately try and hold it together with some form of pretentious review. II deconstructs expectations and asks you to look behind the curtain.

II is, if nothing else an extremely dense record, a fact that has both its positives and negatives. While on the one hand it's fun to get lost in this type of music and revel in the absurdly demented frills, on the other it means that the album really needs to be taken in chunks. When you get the weird drones going on counterbalanced by more straightforward black metal moments it becomes clear that II is the sort of artistic statement that very few can ever properly "get".In some ways the twisted magic of II reminds me of a band like Lord Mantis but at other times it's clear that Crowhurst is its own beast. Yes there are some sickening riffs here and there, but it seems to me that it's more the sonic damage caused by the overall vibe that matters. It's the strange droning vocals on a song like "Fracture Lung", a track that all but demands your full attention, that prove just how good Crowhurst is. They have found a sound that is totally their own and from which there is no reprieve.

As I let the blazing chords wash over me and the disjointed melodies burn through my chest I have to smile at what I have become a victim to. I have to bend the knee to a black metal band who understand the underlying torment of the genre and who make me want to feel the Sabbath's funeral fire. Crowhurst have picked black metal apart and turned it into something that is wholly their own creation. Sure you can hear bits and pieces of other bands, but for better or for worse they remain iconoclastic. Personally I feel like the band has strayed perhaps a bit too far. While they definitely smack of musical genius, II is very deep down the rabbit hole even for someone like me who normally loves this kind of stuff. I will have to wait to hear them tone it back a bit so when they attack again we can feel the bastard charm with more clarity.

Score: 7/10

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  • Scourge

    Hm. I actually found this a very easy album to become fully immersed in from the first listen. As will (probably) always be the case, the electronic noise portion of this album (a hold over from the solo Crowhurst's vs. band Crowhurst's previous work) lays the foundation, but this time around is much more structured and melodic, and for the most part acts as an intro and outro to the album. In between, the band splits time between vicious and/or depressive 2nd wave inspired black metal and post-punk/death rock in the vein of Atriarch (itself in the vein of Christian Death). They balance the genre mix wonderfully, and leave me with an impression of Shining (Swe), if not necessarily in sound, certainly in vibe.

    I also think the addition of Andy Curtis-Brignell of Caina as a full on collaborative partner for this album is one reason the compositions improved from the first Crowhurst band album to this one. Caina and Crowhurst share a lot of similar traits and the trajectories of the two projects seem to complement and parallel one another. But I'd say Caina's latest album is the more noise oriented of the two, even though descriptions of that album could be swapped to describe Crowhurst's II. I think Andy Curtis-Brignell went out of his way to make sure there was a melodic distinction between the albums.

    I really enjoyed Crowhurst's album from last year, but I think II is a step up. I find the compositions to be better and the songs to be more memorable. It's certainly a more depressive affair, but that's actually more in my wheelhouse, so it's another mark in this album's favor as far as I'm concerned.

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