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naysayers beware.... - 95%

dudelar, June 28th, 2006

when I first heard the title of the new CRAFT album, I was kind of bummed out. Then I saw the artwork and I was really bummed out. It all seemed kind of silly to me. "Fuck the Universe" sounded like the title of a NINE INCH NAILS song or something. Fortunately my concerns were pretty much erased by the sounds of the opening chords.

I was immediately struck by the sound of the record. The album has a very 'dead' 70's rock production quality to it. Everything (especially the drums) sounds like it was recorded in a room carpeted from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Anyone that has ever been in bands and made records can tell you that recording music this way can be very challenging. Every nuance of every instrument can be heard, especially the mistakes. There just really aren't any mistakes on this album to be heard. Many black metal bands cloak their musical ineptitude with reverb and tons of guitar overdubs. Not CRAFT, they bare all for us to hear and the result is simply the sound of a really good band playing in a room together. Funnily enough, the production on this record actually reminds me of the first DANZIG album Yeah he got punched out on video, but that record totally slays.

Musically the only way I can think to describe this record is that it "rocks." The songs are mostly mid-tempo and there's only a few times where the band breaks into full on blast-beat blackness. The result is something that is far too rare in black metal these days, some actual VARIATION!!! Many of the songs are fairly complex with interesting progressions, multiple parts, tempo variations and even some hints of melody. Nox's vocals haven't changed much but that's ok with me, he has an impressive gravely snarl. Don't get me wrong, I love the raw elements of black metal. I can tolerate sub-par musicianship or one man bands with boring drum machine parts as long as the atmosphere is there. To me, atmosphere is the essence of black metal but I like it even more when a band can capture that atmosphere while simultaneously bringing the rock.

CRAFT has always been a great band, but I think they're really onto something unique here. UNIQUE. You don't see that word in black metal reviews very often these days eh? Along with DEATHSPELL OMEGA, CRAFT are pushing black metal to new levels and I really hope they keep pushing.

I am the destroyer...