“The floor had a pattern which I can’t describe but it was such to get lost in”–From “Scab Coated Attraction”
Fuckin’ Crowpath. Call ‘em whatever you want–grind, death, tech-core, metalcore; it’s of no consequence. To me it’s no more relevant than pondering the color of the cow when there’s a big tasty fucking steak on your plate. Red on Chrome, the band’s first full-length album, was one of my favorite albums of last year, so I’ve been eager to get my greedy hands on this album for some time. Even with so many strong 2005 offerings from Willowtip (Neuraxis, Gorod, and The Dying Light, to name a couple), the label has ended the year with the unequivocal deathblow of the one-two punch of Arsis and Crowpath. And just as Arsis tightened its chokehold on the genre with A Diamond For Disease, Crowpath has sent a brick through your window with their second album. If you haven’t been paying attention, now’s the time to start.
Crowpath hails from Sweden but has shrugged off the melodic tendencies of many of their compatriots. Looking for a catchy intro? No time. A nice melodic chorus? Fuck you. This band has little use for melody at all, and although this time out they find a little more room for it, we’re still talking jagged shards of dissonance–not exactly anything to hum along with. Drew Ailes was exactly right when in his review of Red on Chrome he said that the album was the first thing to reach for when you want to terrorize your non-metal friends, and that it sounded like the band were playing for their lives. Son of Sulphur, just like its predecessor Red on Chrome, is quite simply a pipe bomb of an album; an explosive blast of overwhelming force and flesh shearing shrapnel. The way the band’s bizarre, jagged technicality and hammering brutality lurch and collide, you’d think they grabbed the devil by the tail and just held on for dear life while havoc ensued. Drummer Eric Hall’s beastly, scattered, and flat out amazing drum work just barely harnesses chaos, as the guitars dive and slice wildly and front man Henrik Ivarsson howls like a tortured/torturing maniac. But for a band that deals in chaos, Crowpath isn’t what’s usually diplomatically referred to as “a difficult listen”. Sure it’s perfect for torturing the non-metal, but what separates Crowpath from a band like Ion Dissonance (who are great in their own right), is that most will find that it doesn’t take a handful of listens to become acclimated to their material. It’s tough to follow but quite easy to enjoy, and without sacrificing a shred of mind-bending technical battery, Son of Sulphurgets the blood pumping from the get go.
Son of Sulphur centers on the theme of pyromania and the obsession, compulsion and tortured soul of the album’s protagonist, seen on the cover as faceless, gaunt, with arms that extend into impossibly long appendages fused into struck matches, while everything around him burns. The concept of flames reaching out destructively in unpredictable directions, and the character’s battle atop the balance of control and chaos, and power and powerlessness lend themselves nicely to the band’s style. This time out Crowpath has expanded their sound slightly by slipping in ribbons of psychotic melody and caustic doomish swells. It’s debatable whether this actually makes the band better, but it definitely creates some nice variation, which separates it from Red on Chrome and shows that the band is continuing to develop. The slurred, staggering organ on “Children of Boredom” and the slow, lumbering behemoth “The Lycanthrope” show mutation without compromising an ounce of murderous intensity. But by far, the majority of the album’s twelve tracks are two-minute long eruptions of frenzied incendiary convulsions, until during the album’s finale, when, unable to live with himself any longer, the album’s protagonist extinguishes himself, the only way that fire meets death, by drowning himself in a lake.
Son of Sulphur has a cleaner production than the band’s debut, and it should also be noted that on “Seed of Arson” and “Picked Clean” Ivarsson gets some vocal help from Johan Karlsson of Abandon, who released the excellent In Reality We Suffer earlier this year (check the review—trust me). Crowpath’s second effort shows that not only are the band more than capable of replicating the addictive technical insanity of their fist album, but also continuing to expand their sound without sacrificing a shred of what makes this band such a promising monstrosity of extreme metal. For the second year in a row, Crowpath has released one of the best albums you’ll hear all year.