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Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal

Crystal Coffin
The Starway Eternal
by Ben Gardiner at 22 November 2021, 10:26 PM

CRYSTAL COFFIN, the Vancouver based melodic Black Metallers unleash the ferocious and wondrous The Starway Eternal, their second album since their debut just last year. Bringing together an inspired mix of melodic and discordant black metal, and the 70s and 80s Italian horror cinema no doubt because of their unrivalled GOBLIN soundtracks, the prog rock band responsible for a huge number of Fulci, Argento and Romero original film scores, which was a huge pull for me as I adore those movies. The band draw inspiration from real world tragedies and use them to create fantastical concepts for their work, with this album exploring a Chernobyl worker who discovers a portal at the plant and is given the promise of seeing gods and angels and, on the ill-fated day of April 26th, 1986, is unwittingly left stranded amongst the cosmos.

Opening the album with a short breath of atmosphere is “Shapeshifter Huntsman,” the song takes very little time to reveal itself to be a heavy blackened nightmare of constant double bass, blasting and excellent guitar riffing. The vocals are unapologetically abrasive, with the sharp snare, ride bell accents and thick wave of dark tremolo guitar tones giving the song a mechanical and restrained feel, that is until the blasting stops and the guitar offers a very groovy moving rhythm line, the drums matching it with halftime snare and a barrage of double bass. The song switches it up again with a moving mix of acoustic and electric guitar, the lack of vocals speaking volumes to the change of emotion in this section. Culminating in a wondrous mix of acoustic notes, piano keys and powerful blasting, the song ends with a section equal parts aggressive and sombre in an interesting musical blend.

Each track of the already unique album carries its own individual reminder of the immense song writing talent, with something memorable happening frequently, it’s an exciting listen with every song clamouring to be the best, whether it’s the amazing drum fill into a blast at 1:30 in the title track, or the hymnal, operatic vocals throughout all of “Skeletons.” For “The Red Forest” it’s the haunting opening, with its proggy drum beat and commanding spoken word vocals that paint a violent image of ‘the bridge of death.’ It’s a cold and melancholic song that expands amazingly into a sea of blasting drums and cosmic synth playing, the guitar splicing in a fantastic solo as the song culminates into wave after wave of chorused voices, heavy drums and the elated synths.

From the concepts to the inspiration material, CRYSTAL COFFIN is a unique and imposing force in modern Black Metal, offering a wealth of sludgy heaviness and perfectly balanced melody. Their use of synths and production provide layers of atmosphere, whilst the interesting guitar riffs and melodies, and the technical and proficient drums offer an exciting and non-formulaic instrumentation. An underrated 2020 release, I very much hope this reaches as many ears as possible.

Songwriting:  8
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Shapeshifter Huntsman
2. The Starway Eternal
3. Skeletons
4. Console of Horror
5. The Red Forest
6. Cremation: Between Fire and Ice
7. The Descent
8. Mega Tomb (including Tomorrow's Ghost)
Lineup:
Rob Poirier - Drums
Lenkyn Ostapovich - Guitars, Keyboards
Aron Shute - Vocals, Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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