Crom Dubh

I’ve been rather enjoying this current run of lighter, melodic, sometimes folky, sometimes ‘Cascadian’, sometimes ‘post’, artsy black metal influenced arguably started by and influenced by the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, Deafheaven, Alcest and Agalloch a few years back.

Recently, the likes of Vattnet Viskar, Ghost Bath, Downfall of Nur,  Alda, Soar, Wiegedood,   Ahamkara, Panopticon, Woods of Desolation, Vallendusk, Winterfylleth, Fen, Obsequiae and such have taken the frosty sneer  and satanism out of black metal and added an intrinsic elegance and dare I say new age, peaceful aura to the genre. And one of my favorite releases of the style this year, along with Alda’s Passage and the recent Obsequiae , is the debut from London’s Crom Dubh. A London band with ties to Craven Idol and Scythian, named after a Celtic deity? You bet.  And it’s magnificent.

With and airy but  fuzzed out guitar tone, the requisite distant black metal rasps , and delicately strummed bass, Heimweh (‘homesick’), isn’t the sharpest or most commanding record on the block, but it’s steeped in an organic, but crisp beauty, like a brisk, dew soaked Irish morning. The riffs have an air of somber Primordial-ish, Celtic-ness and craggy grandeur colliding with Cascadian peak majesty are restrained, and littered with expected melodic crescendos and ambient bridges.

It’s the kind of black metal that kult and trve black metal archetypes are going to despise, as it screams out hipster or post black metal to the casual metal/black metal fan, But its a deep, introspective release with themes and hues of Celtic/Saxon history and imagery, not unlike Winterfylleth or Wodesnthrone’s historical leanings. The albums 6 main tracks (along with 3 interludes), contain somber, but bright shimmery riffs that seem to have been written to be played on bagpipes, and echoing though the green valleys of the emerald isle, as heard on the almost nine minute “Sedition”, .

The standout title track, has the album’s most alluring riff with  engaging, shrill, layered melodic hums and the pace shift at 3:25 to the track’s close is just downright gorgeous and worth the price of the album alone. Closer “Sailing to Byzantium” is the album’s most standard, ‘pure’ black metal track ending the album on a more direct note showing that Crom Dubh can crank it up a little when they want to. But the heart of the album is the aforementioned Irish tinged majesty and post rock shimmer coming together to form something  that is at time pretty damn special.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 19th, 2015


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