Saturday, January 24, 2015

Crimson Swan:"Unlit"

The genre lines are in constant debate on this blog and here is another entry that finds us asking the question what is "funereal Doom" This German band is melodic and more often than not trudges a dark landscape, but there is more of a Katatonia element to this album than I expected going into this. The mix is dense, very compressed and bass heavy. The samples do buy them some time to allow the ambiance to simmer. They wait until the second son to launch into something more akin to funereal doom. The delicate guitar finds alluring melodies. The growled vocals back off into more of an Agalloch whisper. The growls normally fall in a dry choked rasp. not as low as the sort of growling I think of when it comes to funereal doom. You have to admire the bands willingness to take chances one the clean vocal harmonies of both male and female vocals join one of the breakdowns in "Words of Perdition".

There is more often than not a classic metal majesty to their sound. the harmonized guitar tones and the fact they don't sound to be tuned down as low as other doom bands. the powerful chugs they build into is a lot like newer Agalloch who many comparisons can be drawn to even though Agalloch is not a doom band. Crimson Swan speeds up into more of a blasty black metal beat at times, so they are not just a doom band either. Though this might be called blackened doom. On the title track the growl is more sinister and you can hear sounds that are not far removed from Pall Bearer. When this put together it does bring them closer to what I consider funereal doom, but not to the extent that I am hell yeah this is an awesome funereal doom band, instead they are a really good doomy metal band.

The clean vocal melodies are always sure of themselves. If they can pull that off live I would be impressed , but live is where bands of this ilk, Agalloch included tend to have the most problems. When it comes to how heavy this band it, they seem rather middle of the road. The death metal double bass is there, the dissonant chords and even a blast beat or two. At the end of the day good song writing wins out on "Accusations"the synth melody coating the thick lumber of the riff and the clean vocals dominating the verses all work hand in hand. This makes for some classic doom, that is more modern in feel than say Solitude Aeturnus. They do drag themselves into more run of the mill doom on "Void Haven" which might fall in line with your expectations of funereal doom, but it is also less original, so you appreciate the rest of the album where the band defied cliches.

This album was an enjoyable listen from a band that shows tons of promise. If you like your doom to be very melodic with an old Opeth ratio of clean vocals to growls then these guys are for you. The clean vocals are all smartly handled. I'll give this one an 8.5 as it was their willingness to try new things that was more impressive than any crushing riffs, they did not come across that heavy to me , but are promising song writers.

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