I hate to say it, but when The Crawling put out ‘Choking On Concrete’ some months back, I was completely underwhelmed.
I suspect I wasn’t alone.
It seemed over simplistic, underdeveloped and just not really living up to the promise of the personnel.
It can only have been teething problems, or perhaps just rushing out work-in-progress material much too soon.
Because this fantastic, vastly heavy and utterly despondent doom / death release that we now have here is the absolute business – a world away.
Right from the first plucks, tuned to B and delivered with a morbid torpor, it’s apparent this is going to be brilliant.
Immediately the strains of Mourning Beloveth, Novembers Doom and (of course) My Dying Bride boom out the speakers, enveloping the listener in a wet fug of total misery.
If the guitar sound is collossal, then Stuart’s rough and brutal death growls are even more so: savagely coarse round the edges, sub bass at the low end and a vicious bark at the top.
That simplicity that I criticized ‘Choking On Concrete’ for has now been turned to advantage, as the stomping breakdown in ‘The Right To Crawl’ gives onto an almost celestial tremolo’d few notes.
Yet they’re smart too, because just hidden in the background – barely detectable in fact – are some nice shimmering keyboard textures, so subtly done.
They know when to drop the boulders. They also know when to step up the pace and deliver the metal.
The huge chord progression in ‘End Of The Rope’ is brilliant, while the double time strokes of the cymbal suit it perfectly.
‘Catatonic’ is as its name suggests. Despondent, doleful and reminiscent of Ireland’s finest Mourning Beloveth, it really does hit that tender underbelly of deepest woe wrenched so skilfully by the best in the genre.
What’s so good about this is the hugely apparent emotion behind it. The depressive weight behind the tunes is clear, and also the anger: by the time you’re at the end of ‘Catatonic’ you could almost be listening to Immolation it’s so punishing.
I’m pleasantly gobsmacked by the upturn in quality here – a superb release, no doubt whatsoever.
All the more so as we turn into winter.
4.1 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 11/10/15