Sometimes something comes along and takes you by surprise. Maybe it’s a happy accident, or a good deed, or even something you have planned changes at the last minute, but the outcome is so positive, you can’t help but smile. Sometimes you’re expecting one thing, only for something else to emerge, and throw a right curveball into your face.
Well, it’s one of those days, and I will tell you why…
I’m reviewing the new album by Crawl Below, Its Ministers On Earth. Based on old review on this very website, I was expecting a less intense experience than I have just been witness to, let me tell you that as I wasn’t in any way prepared for the aural assault I’ve just experienced.
For those of you who are unaware, Crawl Below is actually a solo project by one mister ‘Charlie Sad Eyes’. For all of its ‘full band’ sound, it’s actually all the work of the aforementioned induvial. Its Ministers On Earth is the fourth full-length outing as Crawl Below, and is somewhat of a side project when he isn’t assuming his position in several other full band projects.
Now, considering that I do love a bit of extreme music, I was in no way prepared for this death doom onslaught, and therefore, my review will try and move beyond using the term ‘guttural growls’ too often, I promise. Its Ministers On Earth is a seven-track barrage of sound, destined to drag you through the pits of hell, and squarely into the path of Satan himself.
Right from the opener, The Daemon Damned Season, you get a true idea of what you’re about to experience within the first couple of minutes. The soft sound of waves coming and going lasts for around thirty seconds before the kick of guitar, and crash of drums rolls in. It chugs along for a couple of minutes before the gears shift, the pace slows, and what can only be described as a feral beast lurches in, and its pained vocal is spewed into the air.
As it plays through, the only way I can describe it is like taking the ambience of soundscapes of My Dying Bride and playing it alongside Mastodon. It feels as if there’s a battle for supremacy of sound, with both parties hitting the foreground, before, in turn, falling behind. By the end of the track, I know I’m being taken on a journey that I hadn’t purchased a ticket for, but I buckled in, and hoped for safe passage to the other side.
The barrage of drum and monstrous guitar riffage, mixed with a vocal that would make Satan himself wince, has me equal parts enthralled, and terrified…
Unfortunately, my ride was about to get a lot bumpier indeed. Red Fell The Vapours swiftly swoops in, and kicks me firmly in the chest, pinning me in place, forcing me to sit back on this hell bound thrill ride. Blast beats, chugging guitar, and a mix of growls and screams make for a venomous attack. When it eases, it’s still menacing, and with each slower passage, the inevitable swift return to musical brutality is only a heartbeat away.
Yet Foul From Their Eyes is another face melting piece. The barrage of drum and monstrous guitar riffage, mixed with a vocal that would make Satan himself wince, has me equal parts enthralled, and terrified. To say this is all breakneck paced venom would be to sell the album short. There are also two instrumental passages within the quagmire, both of which are truly majestic, and really show the versatility of the musicianship.
For me, it’s the album closer, And Deep In The Worm, which holds the most joy. Not joy in a ‘woohoo, I’m happy’ way, but more so in a ‘this is the epicenter of its greatness’ kind of way. Finishing in a dank hollow was always going to be the way, so as it enters, it isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is the speed at which it descends into aural chaos.
As it eventually calms, it’s replaced with an ambient respite, yet when the heavy returns, it’s beastly. The mix of blast beats and those guttural growls make for a hard listen, so when it does drop off again, it’s like being able to breathe once again. I could say ‘go check it out, see for yourself’, but that would kinda defeat this review, I guess. So, I will leave you with this musing…
If the thought of something vicious, spawned from Satan’s bowels himself, floats your boat, then wholeheartedly, jump on this. If loud, abrasive, and nasty, sends you running for the hills, you probably best get them running shoes on…
Scribed by: Lee Beamish