Friday, August 30, 2019

review: Warcrab

Damned in Endless Night
Transcending Obscurity Records
30 August 2019
Warcrab is a nifty kind of proposition for sludge zealots. The Brits are slow because it’s slow doom sludge and all, but they spice up their music, perhaps due to their own weariness of the monotonous direction of contemporary extreme doom and sludge. If that is not how they feel, then it’s pure coincidence that in 2019 they return with their third album, with an abundance of surprises and fun additions to the heaviness. The most likely explanation is that they do want to keep things fresh and interesting for themselves, and maybe for the longtime fans of the genre.
Signaling their difference right from the kickoff, they begin with a big slab of melody as the introduction to the album. It’s very melodic in a sad way, and it’s also a fun little puzzle trying to figure out what influences you can detect. We think we know which ones they are, and you will find some others, too. Nevertheless, just in case there are any questions, concerns or doubts, yes, this album has a boatful of crawling, sprawling heaviness. No worries there. The sludge is remains.
On the other hand, they have several items to consider as selling points for their particular brand of their doom sludge product. First, the band features three guitarists, which is definitely something a bit different, given that lots of drone/doom/sludge is just one guitar, and sometimes there is not even a guitar, just bass and drums. While it is true that it is not super clear in the songs that you can hear a ton of guitar layers, there is always a sense that there are plural guitars working to create the rhythms and the melodies. Bands with the three guitarists are always kind of disappointing, whether it is Iron Maiden or Warcrab, because they are not able to break through and make the three guitars audible consistently throughout the songs (bands with two drummers are also disappointing because they don’t have the imagination to use the drummers differently and harmoniously in the songs, and instead we usually get two drummers playing the exact same thing; so boring). However, Warcrab does show melodies working on top of the rhythms, that’s a very positive trait for them. It’s way better than the usual doom gloom monotonous heaviness.
Another positive characteristic is their use of variety in the tempos. While they may be violating some doom rules by picking up the tempos in their songs, the rule breaking sure makes things more interesting for listeners. Sometimes the death metal vibes come through and it’s awesome to hear them shake things up that way.
Some other things to know are: the vocals are in the style of black metal or sludge, depending how you want to see it. It’s not really a low growl, but a painful, slow screech scream. Also, the band seems to get a kick out of throwing little cues for people to figure out. There are a few places where the band seems to do small tributes to their favorite bands; sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is very clear. Fun stuff. Overall, the album shows a strong effort to do sludge that offers something a bit more varied that people are used to hearing.

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