I really can’t complain that death metal has made the massive comeback that it has. After a few years of the doom revival it’s nice, personally speaking, to see some adrenaline and filth get pumped back into metal. And while HM-2 worship has been only increasingly amplified, it’s nice to hear a band that use the tone and don’t sound like they’re falling into the background clutter.
Sweden’s four-piece death merchants Crawl unleashed their debut record, Rituals via Transcending Obscurity. Having begun in 2014, the band has only put out two releases previously in 2015. But it’s Swedish death metal: so, you know what to expect if you’re even slightly into the genre; hungry buzzsaw guitars and filth. Though Crawl do things a little differently than a lot of death metal on the market now that make them a cut above most.
Rituals isn’t a long record. Clocking in around 26 minutes and only nine-tracks, this death drenched descent wears its crusty hardcore/punk on its sleeve. If you need a reference, it’s like if Trap Them dropped the grind and added more Black Breath and Dismember but kept the solos to the side. Don’t let that discourage you, this album is both brutalizing and speedy on a constant basis. Instrumentally, Crawl kill it, but it’s Martin Sjögren’s guitar work here that really brings out the dead on this album.
“Reject the Cross” opens the album; heavy as nails, crust and deliciously crusty. It’s not a speedy song, despite sounding extremely punk. It opens the album like a chasm too, because once the track ends all hell breaks loose with “Breathing Violence.” It’s thrashier and blastier—a total pit opener. And though it’s the shortest track on the album, it really gives the rest of the album its legs. In fact, it’s within these two tracks that we start to get a feel for what’s going down here. Crawl can play to chainsaw-wielding speed, or sledgehammer slow. Though above all, it’s a bullshit free record.
Tracks are short, with only one clocking in over three minutes, so things go by quickly. But it’s quality over quantity with Crawl. Tracks like “Cowards” is seamlessly metal and punk all at once. Playing some chugging death metal, thrash one minute and kicking it 80s crusty punk style the next. It’s disgustingly catchy too.
However, the album really shows its teeth by the final track “Coven of Servants” comes around. Clocking in at almost five minutes, the track is the most relentless Crawl gets. Heavier, thrashier, harder, grind-ier, culminating into a feedback and a twang from the bass in the final second. It puts the album out on an exhaustive Every time the track rolls up it also sounds like Ryan McKenney guest vocals on it. Not sure if they’re just backing by another band member, but regardless, it gives the album some sharp, final bite.
Crawl is death metal for people that don’t want frilly bullshit. Nothing fancy, nothing polished, just some solid, banging crusty death metal. It’s short but wild and should satisfy any death metal/crust itch you might have. And even if you’re not jonesing for it, you might be for a second-round robin by the time this fithsterpiece is over.
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