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Craft's first public release "Total Soul Rape" begins with a fierce bang. The album was recently reissued by the record label Moribund and is now widely available. The first song "World Of Plague" is a double-kick driven piece of solid black metal. What is interesting about it is Craft's use of harmonics and fairly predominant breakdowns to add variety and flavor to otherwise fairly standard music. This, along with the thick and chunky guitar sound, helps create a death metal-ish feel that is very reminiscent of Darkthrone's mid-era albums ("Total Death", etc.). There are even some leads and solos here and there to reinforce this mood. Though this death-charged type of playing isn't the most standard style of black metal, or the most appreciated, it does help make the album stand out a bit. Craft certainly don't leave out the necessary darkness and evil sounding riffs, however; it's simply tinged in a more groovy death-oriented feel.
The parts of "Total Soul Rape" that stand out the most are the vocals and the drums. The drumming is fairly prominent in the mix, and is somewhat similar to Fenriz's later style, although a fair bit more technical. The snare has a very crisp pop to it, which is unusual for black metal (which usually sees deadened snares). There are blast beats here and there, on particular songs, but overall the drumming style is surprisingly tasteful and mildly technical. The mix is relatively clean, allowing the persistent bass drumming and cymbal work to shine through. This works very well with the overall atmosphere of the album, which is rough but by no means hard to listen to. This relative cleanliness may turn away some listeners, but the music itself is still harsh and black, albeit somewhat "rocking". Another great aspect of this album is the vocals. They are very raw and have a steady rasp to them, and are saturated in classic death metal reverb. They are very different than the vocals on Craft's second album, "Terror Propaganda", probably due in part to the more dominant presence of session vocalist Björn. And indeed, the music itself is very different than on "Terror Propaganda". This album sees a heavier influence from albums such as "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" and "Total Death", whereas "Terror Propaganda" is more akin to later Darkthrone albums like "Hate Them". The Darkthrone influence on both albums, however, is absolutely doubtless.
After the last song dies out, "Total Soul Rape" is finished off by an outro track composed by Shamaatae of Arckanum – another Swedish band with whom Craft are in contact. It isn't exactly dark or terrifying, but it seals the misanthropic nature of Craft's music and ideology and brings a close to the album fairly well.
In summation, Craft are one of the many black metal bands following in the footsteps of the respected and revered Darkthrone. They certainly put some of their own twists on the style, however – prominent tempo changes, breakdowns, and a slightly more technical (in a death metal way) style are the markers of "Total Soul Rape". This is an album worth owning, if not a landmark in modern black metal. For those who prefer driving, fierce-sounding black metal over the thoughtful, hypnotic works of bands like Burzum, Craft is a band worth looking into.
This Swedish band formed back in 1994 and for four years was known under the moniker of Nocta. “Total Soul Rape” was originally released in 2000 and was the band’s debut album, after releasing the “Total Eclipse” demo a year before and their second full-length Terror Propaganda two years after, in 2002.
In the vein of early Darkthrone and other godfathers of the primeval black metal scene, possibly with a slightly decent sound, Craft’s music is presented in the form of grim, raw and extremely misanthropic black metal. From the first few seconds of “World of Plague” to the disturbing unlisted outro (composed by Arckanum’s sole member Shamaatae), Craft persuasively display their skill to create harsh, violent-sounding material that pierces through your ears. If you are after something which differs from the generic black metal album then this one might be for you. In fact, while Craft’s songwriting process is more or less predictable, it nonetheless oozes with quite a few pleasing tempo changes, giving rise to stronger moments and a superior atmosphere.
If you like Darkthrone you should enjoy this release, although Craft don’t necessarily reach the authenticity of the former. Although “Total Soul Rape” remains an average album when compared to its successor “Terror Propaganda”, it still is a promising first attempt. Moreover if the fine-tuned recordings of contemporary acts such as Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir or even Marduk turn you off then this is another reason why you should own this album.