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An Old-School Middle Finger to the Face. - 82%

woeoftyrants, February 7th, 2007

While certainly not offering up anything original in the new school of BM, it's clear to see that Craft don't give a fuck. The band's second album, Terror Propaganda, resonates with plenty of Celtic Frost and Darkthrone influences in all facets: the simple artwork, the attitude, and of course the music.

However, we're not dismissing Craft as a clone or a shit band. Oh, no. Even though these Swedes stick to a beaten-and-true path of black metal, certain things lurk in the mix that set Craft apart in a certain way. Riffs shift between icy tremolo picking, mean-as-fuck power chord bashings, massive sludgefests, and a slice of dissonant, atonal sequences that are often played alone that create a cavernous sense of terror; the latter seem to be highly influenced by a dark ambient style, or maybe even the wave of French BM bands in the mid-90's. Either way, the guitar work is filthy as hell and represents the true spirit of black metal at work. Craft's songwriting skills never stagnate, and even the slower Celtic Frost-esque riffs are kept interesting with splices of pinch harmonics. The band's relentless songwriting techniques are in full form on the opener, "Ablaze", which quickly shifts from mid-paced blast beats to low-down and dirty sludge, as well as the instrumental "616." Some nice harmonies are thrown into the mix in a subtle manner, adding a somewhat off-color sense of melody to the grimness. "The Silence Thereafter", one of the more down-tempo tracks, switches between eerie minor-chord plucking and forceful power chords, and some songs even have chaotic solos soaked in reverb to push things forward. Despite the no-frills nature of the whole album, an atmospheric touch is added with the ambient ending of "Ablaze", which leads into the second track.

Daniel's drum work is nothing special, but this only helps to accelerate the album's nature and motives. I would have liked to see a little more "balls" behind the playing, as it would really help add even more punch to the music. However, the double bass is used wisely, and Daniel allows the music to breathe through at the proper moments. Patterns mostly consist of mid-paced blasts, D-beats, and slower beats to accentuate the more powerful riffs. The drum sound is modern and fresh, and the production as a whole is quite surprising. When looking at the cover art alone, one would expect a shitty lo-fi production, but Craft utilize a cold yet ear-friendly sound that help give the grinding moments an extra push. Bass is clearly overdriven and out-front at times, reminding me somewhat of older Carpathian Forest.

The vocals here are something special; at times they are "typical" black metal, albeit a bit lower and with more dirt. On the title track and "Hidden Under the Skin," (which has some fucking great riffs) you'll hear some fucking INHUMAN screams in the background, comparable even to that of Varg of Herr Morbid of Forgotten Tomb. The lyrics are pretty cool too, even if we've seen in too many times. "Reaktor 4" is misanthropic, and focuses on human extinction. I love the last line of that song: "...Smells like humans."

One thing that really surprised me about the album was its consistency; despite the one-way nature of the music and generally unchanging tempos, (both fast and slow parts) Craft's fresh songwriting skills and fierce vocals keep things interesting. They are one of the few bands to succeed in taking the true spirit of BM and making an album full of it the RIGHT way.

Craft will rip your fucking face off. Not with blaspehemy or speed, but with true black metal spirit. Highly recommended to fans of old-school black metal looking for new stuff.

Favorite songs: "Ablaze", "Hidden Under the Skin", "N.D.P.", "Terror Propaganda."