Black Flame Divination
posted on 2/2011 By:
The first thing I’ll say is that I like the name Crosswrecker. They lose some points for the Dimmu Borigir-esque album title, Black Flame Divination, but they get a pass with it being their first release as a band. Crosswrecker hails from Finland, and this being their inaugural release, I welcome the chance to hear something raw and underground from a country whose metal reaches me in the well-thawed form of Rotten Sound, Sargeist, and a host of other top-tier exports.
Crosswrecker plays blackened thrash that pulls influence from the likes of Celtic Frost and Darkthrone, with hardcore punk undertones. Incidentally, it’s these punkish undertones that are my favorite part of the record; the top layers have their moments but in general, they tend towards a bland regurgitation of early black/thrash metal, and even the production itself, despite being lo-fi, grainy, and aiming for aural encoffination a la Transilvanian Hunger, comes off as simple rehashing. I don’t know whether the band wanted a grim production and missed the mark or just didn’t have access to anything beyond a hand-held tape recorder, but chances are I’d like Black Flame Divination a lot more if it had even just twice the production value.
The EP offers up six tracks, five of which are songs, with the sixth being an instrumental outro. In the course of twenty minutes Crosswrecker tips their hats to a number of predecessors, like I said above, and delivers songs such as “Recreant Saints” and “Christ Scourger” with energy and enthusiasm, if nothing else. Periodically, the guitars will break from their riffing to offer up a layered harmony, but rarely do any of the instruments display technical or melodic excitement. Unfortunately, this renders emotionless much of the twenty minutes, and for all the things that black metal isn’t, it is undeniably emotional, like opera or Wagner.
Ultimately I find myself too conscious of Crosswrecker being conscious of their influences. Good bands disguise this hierarchy of influence, and the best add something to it – a new twist or flair – but at this moment early in their career, Crosswrecker is wearing its influences on its sleeve a bit much for this reviewer. However, I will say that for a self-released first go, there is definitely potential for good things here. The metal world has a strong tendency toward fetishizing the past as made evident by the fascination with revival this and old-school that, so while Crosswrecker might not bring anything new to the table, they amply demonstrate their allegiance to the roots of extreme metal, and for that I salute them.
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