The reissue the long out-of-print sole full-length from infamous Oakland-based crust/metal outfit STORMCROW has finally been released. The now defunct act stormed onto the scene in 2005 with the release of their debut and only full length, "Enslaved In Darkness", followed by a series of brutal split releases with SANCTUM, SKAVEN, MASSGRAVE, LAUDANUM and COFFINS over the next four years. This official worldwide reissue reintroduces the album's cruel AMEBIX-style crust infused with metallic riffs; a must-have for BOLT THROWER, AXEGRINDER, DEVIATED INSTINCT, and HELLSHOCK devotees. STORMCROW's ominous tone built of thunderous drums, chunky guitar rhythms, intricate time patterns, and intensely dark vocals have helped the band become a well-respected name within the crust and metal scenes. The release also features artwork done by Rob Middleton (DEVIATED INSTINCT) and was recorded by Greg Wilkinsen of BRAINOIL.
Recently, there has been a great deal of Bolt Thrower worship bands popping up. Bands like Sanctum, War Master, and Realm of Chaos have all been writing crusty death metal in the vein of early Bolt Thrower. Out of this filthy pile, Stormcrow are probably the most popular of the lot and with good reason too! Not only do they kneel at the altar of early Bolt Thrower and other UK crust associated bands, this crusty crew also take notes from Swedish death metal and the UK death/doom scenes. Unlike some bands that have trouble writing music that draws from various sources, Stormcrow make it seem way too easy.
Unfortunately, there is only five tracks and it's a real shame. It never grows stale and keeps the listener interested despite the music being extremely filthy and dark. It never slows down to the point of boredom but never speeds up fast enough to lose it's heaviness. Another charming trait to the music is that although it takes influences from various artists, it still maintains this “orthodox” feel, making sound it more timeless.
The opening track gives the listener a taste of the carnage that is found throughout the release. Starting off with an intro that could have easily found itself somewhere on the War Master album, until the band starts to pummel you with mid paced chugging complete with snarling bass. This catchy riff mutates into another riff that sounds like a beefed up riff from Heading For Eternal Darkness. Then the vocals come in. Did I mention how awesome the vocals are? They sound like the roars of a behemoth deep within a cave. One could say that the rest of the release follows a similar approach and they wouldn't be too far off the mark. “Anguished Existence” is a total head banger that's sure to cause neck injury one way or another. The third track, “Baneful Conception” starts off with a deceptively clean intro but soon reverts back to the destruction of everything in sight in typical Stormcrow fashion. “Willing to Forgive” is probably one of my favourites here because of the doom laden breakdown halfway through, followed by a return to the chugging madness with some trade back yelling. “New Messiah” starts up in the typical Stormcrow fashion before unleashing an infectious melodic riff that almost sounds like something Tragedy would have written.
One of the reasons I love this album so much is because the tone is ridiculously filthy. I mean, just listen to it, you would swear that your speakers would start building up with ... crust! The riffs are some of the best I heard in a while such as the ending of “Willing to Forgive” and the entirety of “Enslaved in Darkness”.This is not to say that the other elements of the music aren't up to par. The bass makes it presence well known throughout the album without being too high in the mix and when it gets the time to shine, it does not disappoint at all. The drumming drives the music at a great pace and I personally adore the snare sound. The vocals are a mix between a death grunt and a coarse shout. There also seems to be a small but noticeable delay or echo to vocals which works perfectly with the music. The almost organic production is perfect for this music, everything can be heard and nothing is too high or low in the mix. The lyrics are absolutely crushing and walk a fine line between total dirge and total disgust for humanity such as on the title track or “New Messiah”. The lyrics fit perfectly with the black and white artwork,
This album is dystopian in every sense of the word. If you like crushing, filthy and monolithic death metal with crusty overtones than you need to pick this up. For fans of early Bolt Thrower, Swedish death metal, the UK crust/grindcore scene and good music in general.
Hails And Horns:
The Bay Area’s own (unfortunately disbanded) STORMCROW see their only full-length re-released on Selfmadegod records for the extreme metal world as whole to enjoy. Taking equal parts crust, thrash and hardcore and combining them in a dirty war metal drinking horn, STORMCROW march diligently across 5 chugga-licious songs. Enslaved In Darkness is a record that is cohesive and honest enough to have come out around the time of the original grindcore and crust explosion. Super thick, tough production pummels your head through the entire release, letting up only for some clean tone action on the brilliant and victorious ‘Baleful Conception’. Very pissed vocals go to work from the first to the last. Menacing and guttural, a vocal style that is ubiquitous in the crust genre, rarely gets old. STORMCROW may be a part of the past, but Selfmadegod Records have given you a chance to experience their crushing brilliance.