(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the latest album by the British band WarCrab.)
Over the course of 2016 I managed to successfully cover a host of fantastic bands from the UK (often, but not always, under the “Best of British” banner) spanning a wide variety of metallic sub-genres, from the pitch-black perfection of Wode and the doomy proggery of King Goat, to the unfathomable brutality of Unfathomable Ruination, the knee-cap shattering aggression of Venom Prison, and the grandstanding gallop of Wretched Soul… and beyond.
But even with all these, there were still several bands whose works went uncelebrated, and chief amongst them were the mighty WarCrab and their titanic second album Scars of Aeons.
With a sound that can best be described as a humongous hybrid of the chugging, churning assault of classic Bolt Thrower, the swaggering, sludge-soaked grooves of Crowbar, and the sheer, merciless morbidity of Autopsy at their doomiest, Scars of Aeons is one heck of a weighty listen. There are riffs here which are heavy enough to break an elephant’s back, and slithering grooves as thick and meaty as an anaconda on steroids.
In fact I’m surprised this album doesn’t come with an attached safety warning and a recommendation that listeners wear a hard-hat at all times in order to prevent cranial trauma. It really is that [expletive deleted] heavy!
The eight-and-a-half minute “Conquest” brings the crush, and brings it hard. All heaving, lurching riffs, bowel-shaking drums, and huge, ominous chords that hang over your head like the sword of Damocles itself, it builds from a cold-blooded, slow-motion crawl of groaning sludge-doom into a stomping, ground-and-pound Death Metal chugathon, after which the brooding, bruising, bombast of “Destroyer of Worlds” only serves to drive home the message that this album is not messing around.
Track three, “In The Shadow of Grief”, finds WarCrab in surprisingly introspective mood, deploying an extra dose of moody melody to sweeten the deal slightly, while still delivering all the shameless heaviness and intense, irresistible grooves which the band’s fans have come to expect. By contrast, “Bury Me Before I’m Born” not only has one incredibly badass title, but also has more of a classic Death Metal vibe to it – strongly reminiscent of Immolation and Grave in places – without feeling self-consciously retro in style, and is one hell of an unrepentant head-banger.
By the time you reach the climactic title-track you should definitely be feeling the effects of the previous four-song pounding a fair bit, but just wait… the band have saved their best (and biggest) number for last, as “Scars of Aeons” is a ten-minute monster of pulverising grooves, granite-chewing vocals, and riffs so dense that they’re practically bulletproof.
In conclusion, Scars of Aeons is the sort of album you really can’t afford to sleep on. It’s just that damn good.
True, I’m not sure the band need three full-time guitarists, and there’s some controversy over whether it should be counted as a short album or a long EP due to its length (I, for one, would certainly not have complained if it were a song or two longer), but these are minor quibbles at best.
So my advice is to grab yourself a copy asap and crank it up so loud you can feel it in your eyeballs.
Just make sure there aren’t any children or pregnant women in the vicinity before you do. Because I refuse to be blamed for what might happen to them.