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The Crotals - Fuel! Flames! Blast!

The Crotals
Fuel! Flames! Blast!
by Gal Gazit Galili at 23 September 2015, 9:30 PM

Formed in 2011, THE CROTALS is a sludge/stoner metal trio from Lausanne, Switzerland. Their debut full-length album, "Fuel! Flames! Blast!" has been released through Tenacity Music, and offers 10 tracks full of nonstop aggression. The band's massive sound features Guy Borel's monstrous vocals and dirty, filthy guitars accompanied by Maude Oswald’s baritone guitar, backed by the savage drumming of Fabrice Marguerat.

The album starts with “Lipstick on a Pig”, which clearly shows what THE CROTALS is all about: ugly, distorted sludge metal with catchy riffs and bass lines, varying dynamics, and occasional odd time signatures that add a little touch of progressive metal. And even with the absence of a standard bass guitar in some of the songs and a baritone guitar taking its place, the band still keeps their sound insanely heavy. “Never Sorry” comes up next, with fast paced psychedelic riffs and that makes the track easily resemble a MASTODON song. The drastic transition into this song clearly portrays how the band packs so many different ideas into the album’s relatively short span of 39 minutes, which is highly impressive when it comes to sludge metal.

“Black Blizzard” starts off with heavy, destructive riffs, and eventually goes into a beautiful, slightly quieter interlude with distant clean guitars playing towards its end, right before going back into the sludge metal chaos. In “Slave of Damnation”, one of the heaviest songs on the album, THE CROTALS use more of a straightforward approach to deliver a song with killer riffs, catchy chorus, and a groove that will make you rage.

The next track, “Wrath”, is a booming instrumental where Guy Borel’s melodic guitar riffs soar above the layers of raging bass and drums. “Blast” is another standout track, where the band members go out of their comfort zone and show that they are always capable of making you bang your head furiously – with an impressive ass-kicking riff in 5/4 that sounds like an interesting mix of TOOL and GOJIRA.

THE CROTALS go in a different direction with “Polar Thoughts”, another standout track that features a beautiful melodic chorus, plenty of double-bass drumming, and an amazing post metal-influenced interlude that could most likely come out of an ISIS song. The band members once again shows how professional they are at incorporating so many different influences from different subgenres of metal into their music.

The album finishes off with the grand finale, “Desert Odyssey”, which starts with a badass rock n’ roll intro and goes into another sludge metal masterpiece with more crashing riffs and even sweet, but short guitar solos along the track. And finally, the album finishes off with the whole band playing a few seconds of pure noise, and a final chord to set the end.

However, although this is a fantastic sludge metal album, it’s got a few minor flaws. The vocals often feel obscure as if they are buried under the massive layers of the guitars, and even though they are throaty and vicious, they could be executed even better if they would shine through more. Another issue is that despite that they are great tracks, the two slower tracks on the album, “Mississippi” and “Shelter”, do not stand out as much compared to the other tracks, however they do give some breathing space instead, before entering the two final tracks that finish off this album perfectly.

Overall, “Fuel! Flames! Blast!” is an outstanding sludge/stoner metal album. THE CROTALS do not shy away from presenting an impressive variety of ideas incorporated into their sludge metal, and deliver this album to you like a hurricane destroying everything in its path. If you are a metalhead who is looking to get into sludge and stoner metal, definitely give this album a listen!

3 Star Rating

1. Lipstick On A Pig
2. Never Sorry
3. Black Blizzard
4. Slave of Damnation
5. Wrath
6. Blast
7. Mississippi
8. Shelter
9. Polar Thoughts
10. Desert Odyssey
Maude Oswald - Baritone Guitar, Keyboard
Guy Borel - Guitar, Vocals
Fabrice Marguerat - Drums
Record Label: Tenacity Music


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