Hot off the press, this new Southern Lord Records release by Norwegian crust band Summon The Crows has arrived in lap. In the press release they have been described as a cross between raw–beat crust and black metal, their apparent influences point in the direction of punk icons Discharge, Tragedy and Amebix. Now, having been a very avid fan of raw d-beat crust for many a year, I regard myself as something of a connoisseur to all things raw when it comes to punk. Buoyed up by the press description I anticipated something not to dissimilar to bands such as Disclose, Framtid, Frigora, Electric Funeral or black metal crust kings Martyrdod, because these bands were or are raw d-beat crust bands, moreover you don’t tend to find many bands that are better than these. I was somewhat taken aback when on hearing the opening track it did not strike me that what I was hearing was either raw or raging d-beat. Knowing how difficult it can be to listen to tracks on an embedded media player on a southern lord press page, I am not convinced the drummer is playing a d-beat at all…..but hey you need to check that out for yourselves. So let’s get to the review itself, this opening gambit may have been regarded as a digression, but I prefer fairly accurate descriptions rather than falling into the loose game of highlighting similarities that will only lead to disappointment.
In reality this band sounds more like early Sepultura crossed with Portland’s Tragedy or Warcry. There is certainly an 80’s thing going on here, and this is way more trad thrash, stenchcore than out of control d-beat. The riffs come from a metal camp and the progressions move smoothly throughout. Each song only goes to confirm their influences but this is just not distinctive enough to become a classic in punk circles. Expertly played mid-pace rhythms define the vast majority of the songs on this album. But the message of each song such as ‘Enter The Shadow Of The Tyrant’ or ‘Vivisection’ gets lost in the more often than not major key progressions, making each riff sound happy. It’s a dangerous game I think trying to emulate bands such as Tragedy or Warcry, it is impossible for me to discern any Amebix or Discharge in what they do, yet all these bands managed to get it just right, well to begin with, but what we have here is a z rated version, yes they may provide a contemporary spin on these past masters and yet this remains such an incredibly boring release.
A word of advice to the people at Southern Lord, you need to rethink your game when it comes to releasing crust bands, it’s cool to release what you are into, but look outside and you will see there is a whole sway of bands that make Summon the Crows indistinguishable from the herd. Okay, well I’m heading out now and I’m going to listen to Martyrdod and Electric Funeral and then maybe some Avskum and Framtid to clean my studs from this stain on raw d-beat punk. Seriously disappointed.
Label: Southern Lord
Scribed by: Pete Hamilton-Giles