(In this latest edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the two bloodthirsty albums by Denmark’s Crocell.)
Recommended for fans of: Amon Amarth, God Dethroned, Bloodbath
So here’s the thing. Well, two things actually. Firstly, I noticed that a good number of the recent Synn Reports have been of a black metal – type, as are many of the ones I have planned for the future. Secondly, my original plan for this edition was not only another black metal – based band, but was also taking me a lot longer to write-up than I intended. So bearing these two things in mind, I decided to re-shuffle things a bit and bash out a different Report than the one I had originally planned, just to give you a bit of variety.
There you go, preamble over. Here’s some death metal.
Formed in Aarhus in 2007, the Danish quintet Crocell deal in concrete-heavy slabs of prime melodic death metal beef. Heavy on the groove and spiced up with darkly melodic lead lines, they’ve produced two albums so far, 2008’s The God We Drowned and last year’s follow-up The Wretched Eidola, while also maintaining a remarkably stable core line-up throughout.
Towing a fine-line between crushing death metal extremity and surprising accessibility, one can find similarities with perennial NCS-faves A Hill To Die Upon in their mix of earth-shaking death metal groove and dark, subtle melody, while their aggressive, blasphemous lyrical outlook should suit fans of Deicide perfectly. Even fans of The Crown will get their goods here, as the relentless, jet-propelled drumming work-out of each song meshes seamlessly with their precise, yet powerful volleys of lethal riffage.
The God We Drowned – 2008
“Behind The Veil” starts off with some nasty, pounding death metal riffage that immediately gets the blood pumping. Harsh chugging is matched by smooth chord shifts and anchored by an unflinching, unbreakable snare beat, while the coarse, mid-range gutturals rage with deathly fury. The wailing solo in the track’s penultimate bars add a warped and twisted melody to the track, before it grinds away to a hammering, stomping conclusion.
“Apotheosis” is a more frantic number, reminiscent in some of its riffs of early Amon Amarth, but with a more modern, and indeed slightly more technical, edge. The vocals growl and snarl with a ragged, toothsome ferocity over a plethora of storming, groove-heavy riffs, part melodeath speed and part staccato, death metal stomp, before a truly crushing death metal breakdown paves the way for another quick-firing Hanneman-inspired solo.
Slow and brooding, ominous and bruising, “Winter Is Coming” marches along at an unstoppable pace, with a heavy emphasis on gloomy melody and heaving brutality. The groaning, dirge-like chords demonstrate some welcome variety from the ground-and-pound approach of the album’s first two tracks, allowing dark and threatening atmosphere to develop, tinged with the sort of bleeding darkness that Hypocrisy do so well. This calamitous state of affairs ultimately pays off in the song’s second half, where a sizzling interlude of toxic melody is introduced to great effect.
“Death Knell” hammers away at the listener with its forceful, death metal riffing, slowing the pace every now and then to allow an undercurrent of melody to rise to the surface. The massive, war-like riffs blast away beneath a veritable barrage of drumming artillery, rushing headlong into a sickening quagmire of sludgy chords and hacking, coughing vocals. At the end of all this, the slowly rotting climax of the track builds from a rumbling, booming bass line into a full-on Obituary crawl of filthy extremity.
The pairing of “The Chosen” and “The Culling” brings back some of the blazing speed and intensity of the earlier tracks. The former is a berserker display of rampaging tremolo riffs and galloping drums which eventually reaches cruising speed in a flurry of sharp-edged, melodic riff-work and intricate, forceful drum patterns, moving between ascending, blast-fuelled tremolo work and titanic, storming groove. The latter is an onslaught of taut, thrashy rhythms and elephantine death metal riffage, bristling with chaotic energy. One of the most punishing and brutalising songs on the record, it still packs in a good helping of steely melody. Case in point, the finale of the song sees an utterly devastating slowdown crush clear some space for the climactic solo, which wheels and soars majestically.
The unforgiving, blast-furnace introduction of “The New Blood” sees the band at their most monstrous, as unrelentingly death metal as any band you might care to name. The obliterating introduction soon drops into a bone-breaking, stop-start verse section, underpinned by a thick, grumbling bass-line. The riffs are unstable and explosive, the rolling kick patterns and snapping drum fills violent and powerful, and the vocals rage with fury and might. Throughout it all there are hints of crimson melody scattered here and there, stains of darkness that accent the bulldozing, blasting ferocity of the track.
Sample track: “Death Knell”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/05-Death-Knell.mp3|titles=Crocell – Death Knell]
The Wretched Eidola – 2011
With its winding, ascending tremolo parts, “I Know The Taste of Your Tears” has a black metal flavour to it, ably incorporated into the song’s all-out death metal assault, like an ugly amalgamation of Deicide and Dissection. The intense, vein-popping vocals snarl through clenched teeth over a tumultuous series of riffs that run the gamut from guillotine chord-drops and doomy low-end progressions, through to savage, squealing cannibal harmonics. The dark ambience of the song’s chugging mid-section provides a momentary change of pace before a fretboard-searing solo leads into its pummelling climax.
Skipping merrily down the left-hand path, “Chronos” stabs remorselessly at the listener with its taut and tense melodies, accenting the vicious, slicing riffs and swift, technical runs that make up the majority of the track. These scything melody lines cut through the meat and gristle of the song’s heaving, muscular body, all crippling riffs and back-breaking beats. The drums in particular shine on this track, rippling with power, from their punchy, crushing kick attack to the agile, sweeping hand-work.
Monolithic and doom-laden, “The Age Of Iron and Rust” is a neck-breaking stomp of ominous chords and hideous aggression, delivered at the pace of oozing tar. Thick, heavy and choking, the riffs thrum with electric force, while the bass creeps and crawls with dark intent. The drums ring out like a hammer meeting an anvil, an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, providing an unbreakable backbone for the evil, hanging chords and ugly, brutish chugs that make up the song’s massive wall of guitars.
A hefty helping of bludgeoning power, balanced by some darkly beautiful melodies, makes the title track “The Wretched Eidola” a perfect example of the band’s yin and yang approach to song writing. The introduction brings in some interesting variety, epic in both power and melody, like a more melancholic Amon Amarth, stripped of the Viking pretensions and harrowed down to its barest, unyielding skeleton. This provides a perfect framework for the track to transition into a blitzkrieg blast-fest, where bestial vocals and scorched-earth guitars vie for the listener’s attention, building in intensity towards a towering crescendo of storm-lashed fret-work and a snarling mantra of monstrous might.
The sheer aural violence of ”Thieves, Whores, and Heretics” pummels the listener into submission with its rhythmic, down-picked chuggery and piston-fuelled, mechanised hatred, unleashing volley after volley of dissonant aggression, leading into the killing blow of “The Puritan Harlot”, all barbed tremolo melodies and ringing, cataclysmic chords, combined into a devastating war-machine of steamrollering force.
The low-slung, windmilling riffs and spiteful vocals of “Voices of The Deep” add a manic swagger to the album. It’s a full-on Cannibal Corpse-style feast of blood-drenched, meaty riffs and cavernous vocals, a visceral violation of rapacious melodies set atop a still-breathing carcass of torn flesh and broken bone. The sledgehammer guitar work is as brutal and crushing as anything the band have ever done, bludgeoning and violating the listener with sheer, visceral aggression.
Sample song: “The Age of Iron and Rust”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/04-The-Age-of-Iron-and-Rust.mp3|titles=Crocell – The Age of Iron and Rust]