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Crest of Darkness - Welcome the Dead Award winner

Crest of Darkness
Welcome the Dead
by Anna Chase at 09 May 2017, 11:28 AM

After a long weekend at work, the opportunity to review a CREST OF DARKNESS album was just what I needed. I’m a bit of a Black Metal aficionado, and I can tell you the difference between all of the obscure sub genres in a heartbeat. From BURZUM and ULVER to XASTHUR and everything in between, I know this genre like the back of my hand and so I was especially excited to give “Welcome the Dead”, the band’s seventh full-length album, a listen. CREST OF DARKNESS was formed in 1993 by front man Ingar Amlien in Norway, which could easily be considered one of the black metal capitals of the world. Just from looking at the band’s website and sampling a few of their earlier albums, I can tell they’re purists. They don’t throw in any elements which might jeopardize their particular style of stark, harsh Black Metal. My favorite of their previous albums, “Evil Knows Evil,” is a shrieking, terrifyingly brutal masterpiece, and Amlien is the perfect lead singer. He looks like an eviler version of IMMORTAL front man Abbath, and his crazed vocals are immensely powerful. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this album.

“Welcome the Dead” is a classic Black Metal intro song. It starts off with haunting ambient noise before racing into a rapid bass drumbeat and chugging minor guitar riff. Amlien’s vocals fit perfectly into place with the tone of the song. He’s the true embodiment of Black Metal, and his guttural shrieks are absolutely frightening. “Chosen by the Devil” seems to me as it’s almost Thrash-influenced, and it’s noticeably faster than most Black Metal. This is probably my favorite song on the album. It switches between syncopation and steady rhythms, and brings out the percussive sound of Rebo’s guitar work wonderfully. The track is aggressive, relentless, and illustrates what CREST OF DARKNESS is all about.

Now, I don’t know if I’m allowed to have two favorite songs, but I loved “Scourged and Crucified’s” suspenseful and thumping bass riff combined with the sudden explosion of drums and guitars around the 1:15 mark. It’s a raw and brutal song with a distinctive drumbeat, and reminds me slightly of early SATYRICON due to the harsh vocals and Thrash-influenced background. “My Black Bride” starts off with a mournful clean guitar track and the sound of pouring rain. I was expecting it to take a steep nosedive into Black Metal terror, but this track, at only 2 minutes and 49 seconds, is a melancholy respite from the band’s usual heaviness. It showcases the band’s diversity. The song demonstrated in particular that Rebo is an excellent guitar player who evokes emotion and passion in his work.

“Borrowed Life” is a great song that sounds like it has the potential to become a Black Metal hit (like “Freezing Moon”- everyone knows that one). The eerie whistling tone of the keyboard in the background adds depth and distinguishes this track from the others on the album, since to a non-experienced ear Black Metal songs can tend to blend together after a while. The guitar riffs are ferocious and catchy, while the drums pound steadily in the background. “The Almighty” sets up yet another great Black Metal riff for success. The percussion in this track was particularly interesting. Bernhard is a tireless drummer and manages to make his parts stand out from one another. The bass also took on an almost percussive style here, and formed the perfect underlay for the blasting guitar riffs and Kris’s threatening shrieks.

“Memento Mori” was a slower song which gave me a bit of Doom Metal influenced brutality. Imagine a more brutal version of CANDLEMASS, that’s this song exactly. I found the contrast between the muted, low singing and the traditional screams to be a unique addition to the track, and the echoing, distorted guitar riffs contributed to the song’s spectral tone. “The Noble Art” is pure Black Metal. There’s not a lot more to say, CREST OF DARKNESS knows how to do terrifying, and they do it well. The drumbeats again stand out, especially since usually in Black Metal they are simplistic and rudimentary. The beginning riff, while not particularly imaginative, redeems itself around 1:45 when it chugs into a staccato guitar and bass track. This re-introduces that hint of Thrash that I sensed in “Chosen by the Devil”, and it works perfectly to blend two distinct genres of metal.

“Katharsis”, the last track, is hauntingly sinister and shines the spotlight on Rebo’s guitar yet again. While the intro seemed to drag on a bit to me, this song is musically flawless and is reminiscent of some select CELTIC FROST songs. Kris’s vocals are low, murmuring, and somehow scarier than his usual screams. While not the strongest song to end the album on, I was thoroughly impressed by CREST OF DARKNESS. They’re a polished, authentic Black Metal band who know how to write songs that are simultaneously beautiful and evil. I might be biased, I’m a junkie for Black Metal, but I know true talent when I see it, and CREST OF DARKNESS has it.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Welcome the Dead
2. Chosen by the Devil
3. Scourged and Crucified
4. My Black Bride
5. Borrowed Life
6. The Almighty
7. Memento Mori
8. The Noble Art
9. Katharsis
Lineup:
Ingar Amlien- Bass and vocals
Rebo- Guitar
Bernhard- Drums
Kristian Wentzel- Keyboard
Record Label: My Kingdom Music
     


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