Crowhurst is the very portrait of an underground band on the verge of exploding to the forefront of extreme metal. Initially dabbling in harsh noise and minimalistic, blackened soundscapes (as described by frontman Jay Gambit, the band was initially more of a collaborative noise project that occasionally released solo records), at some point the band began to take on a more singular identity, apart from their numerous splits and collaborations that focused on bleak noise – which are all absolutely fantastic and I recommend you check those out as well, most are available on the Crowhurst bandcamp page for pay-what-you-want download, along with Gambit’s solo power electronics and harsh noise band, Girl 27. This new collective identity is fully solidified and realized on their forthcoming self-titled full length.
After making myself familiar with their back catalog, I was expecting something very different when I sat down to listen to Crowhurst’s newest endeavor. Despite being cautioned by their frontman that this release was not as noisy and a bit more grounded than their releases in the past, I could not break my preconceived notions of the group. Thankfully, despite being very surprised upon listening to the album, I was not at all disappointed. The noise is still present, near constantly. But it is subdued and not the primary focus. Rather, the crunching grains of sound are used as emphatic exclamations to the rest of the ethereal sound of the record. Despite Crowhurst describing their music as experimental black metal, the ideas the term conveys do the music they produce no justice. The manage to live up to the previous legacy that they established with their noise music in a relatively short existence, while at the same time bringing in nuanced elements of post-black metal, sludge, and psychedelia. The experience is overall very atmospheric and beautiful, yet bleak and harsh all at once.
The first and last tracks on the album are the most heavily rooted in noise; swirling torrents of sound surrounding the rest of the music and piercing it with violent intent that harkens back to their older work. All the while, embracing their more evolved sound as melancholic, distorted chords ring out, drawing the listener in to this bleak world which promises no escape. The final track on the album is further punctuated by a harrowing guest performance by Oxbow frontman and well-documented mad genius, Eugene Robinson. The pulsating, crunchy noise of the track coupled with Robinson’s otherworldly presence and Crowhurt’s masterful command of their atmosphere make the track a perfect conclusion to this pronouncement of existence to those outside of the small but solid bubble Crowhurst had constructed for themselves with their previous releases. The meat of the album, however, is contained in the five tracks between this introduction and conclusion. Each track is beautifully constructed and disgustingly executed. A dark, melancholy contained within the post-black metal-esque riffs that create a wonderful atmosphere for the pained, harsh vocals to cut through, assuring you that there is no escape from the dizzying haze you’ve stumbled your way into. It is entrancing, confusing, and alienating, but you will be made to love it.
Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with Crowhurst, this album is one that is definitely worth checking out. It touches many vital areas and grabs some of the best parts of multiple genres to create a truly fantastic listening experience. Despite the fact that they have an immense back catalog, this album is a perfect jumping in point for new fans, due to the fact that it is both much more accessible than a large portion of their back catalog, but at the same time does not abandon these noisy roots. Instead, it embraces them while combining a bit of restraint and a lot of vision to create something fantastic. Crowhurst is truly a band on the verge of exploding, in the best possible way. Crowhurst’s newest endeavor will be released on 4/10/15 and will be available on their bandcamp their official online store , and through Ivory Antler Recording & Publishing You can also get many of their other releases, as well as Girl 27’s work through the same sites.