Death/Doom three-piece The Crawling issued their debut album, Anatomy of Loss, only last week, but it’s already racked up a number of positive reviews. And rightly so, as the Northern Irish triptych have produced one fine slab of moody metallic melancholy here, one which pays ample tribute to the band’s eminent forebears, but which isn’t wholly beholden to them.
Opener “An Immaculate Deception” sees the group putting their best foot forward, with an array of rippling Death Metal riffs and creepy melodic lead parts setting the stage for some gristly, gravel-throated vocals courtesy of Stuart Rainey and Andy Clarke.
Coming across as a rawer, deathlier Paradise Lost, or a grimmer, less gothic Novembers Doom, The Crawling may not be adding much new to the overall formula, but every track here is delivered with such obvious grit and gusto that you can’t help but root for them… particularly since the band (rounded-out by drummer Gary Beattie) prove themselves to be excellent songwriters in their own right on songs such as the simultaneously depressive/devastating “Poison Orange” and the harsh-yet-hooky “Acid On My Skin”, displaying a keen grasp of both mood and dynamic.
“All Our Failings” finds the group picking up the pace and leaning much more heavily towards the Death Metal side of things, delivering a plethora of cruelly catchy riffs, pounding chugs, and gut-rumbling bass lines in the process, all without ever abandoning the doomier side of their repertoire entirely (some of the chord progressions here are both soul-crushing and neck-wrecking).
By contrast, “The Right To Crawl” practically bathes you in melancholy melody right from the start, initially sounding like an unreleased Warning track sung by Nick Holmes’ angrier younger brother, before upending things with an injection of pure metallic adrenaline right to the song’s still-beating heart (including some bold, bombastic riff work in the song’s second half), after which the surprisingly spacious, early Paradise Lost worship of “Violence, Vanity, and Neglect” gives Rainey’s understated bass work a welcome chance to shine.
Climaxing with the sullen and mercurial strains of “Catatonic” – which builds from a somnolent, staggering start into an absolute behemoth of booming, bruising riffs and mournful melodies – Anatomy of Loss is another impressive entry in the ever-expanding Death/Doom canon. And while it doesn’t break the mould, it definitely gives it a bit of a shake up, and hints at even greater things still to come for The Crawling.