(Wil Cifer wrote this review of the new album by Crowhurst, which was released on April 5th by Prophecy Productions.)
This project of Jay Gambit and friends has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to American black metal as they are willing to deviate from what everyone else is doing, which is typically adhering to a steady diet of blast-beats. Though the opening song, sticks closer to a more traditional form of black metal, blast beats are used more as an accent than as a rule of thumb.
Its on “ Self Portrait with Halo and Snake” that things get interesting. Their sound begins to take on a more post-punk feel. Low baritone vocals carry a haunting melody. The guitar has a more indie-rock angle to it. The song does swell into harsh vocals, but everything is very smooth.
These vocals continue on into the song after this. The guitars have more of a narcotic sonic feel to them here. Almost shoe-gaze in the hazy nature they drone with in their melodies. A formula begins to develop as this song also builds into a harsher vocals. It flows very naturally. While many bands have tried to pair shoegaze with black metal, not many get the right balance like these guys do.
Nachymystium might be a good reference point for the direction of the darker new sonic space the band is embarking upon. The guitars conjure up some interesting sound that requires the drummer using restraint to give them the space to do so.
I can see where at this point in time if you showed up for a black metal album you might be disappointed or confused. Given my musical tastes, however, I am blissed out by this shift. Though even if you are here for the heavier side of this band, don’t’ give up on them just yet, as things grow more ominous on ” La Faim”. The vocals take on more of a Danzig feel. By Danzig, I am referring more to Samhain, as they have a more abrasive creepiness. It is as heavy in its mood as it is sonically heavy, which is always a sweet spot for me. It sounds great, but from a song-writing perspective works off the one drone.
“Ghost Tropic ” takes elements of the despondent sounds a band like Swans employs and sets them against a rawly emoted anguish. I am not sure I would call this black metal, but it comes closest to being depressive black metal.
I have mentioned Nachtmystium before in conjunction to the kind of dismal sonic space Crowhurst is moving into on this album, and that comparison is even more warranted on the song “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”. They build a storm of dense noise and anger here. The vocals have a mean snarl to them. The song collapses midway into it and becomes electronic noise that goes into an almost industrial pound despite being so disjointed.
This album shows a great deal of growth, even it comes at the price of growing away from black metal. If you have grown tired of the same old status quo of black metal and are looking for something that takes a few more chances, this album is for you.