Summon the Crows
One More For The Gallows
posted on 5/2011 By:
Norway’s Summon The Crows is another band crossing the streams of metal and hardcore -- less filthy and black than Dishammer and less grind than Trap Them, Summon The Crows prefers their punk with a hearty dash of thrash. Taking the time-honored crust punk / d-beat sound and adding a Slayer / Kreator component, plus a hint of early death metal in the guttural vocals, on paper, Summon The Crows’ crossbreeding sounds like an instant key to my heart. But while One More For The Gallows sparks instantly and constantly, it doesn’t quite blaze like I’d hoped.
Those vocals are the only real sticking point – there’s virtually no deviation, little dynamic quality, and the growl itself isn’t as violent or distinctive or as definitive as it should be. Given the general quality of the riffs upon which they ride, and the overall high-energy aesthetic and solidly crafted songs around them, these vocals are the weakest link, a faceless voice for a band that requires better. Beyond (or beneath) that, instrumentally, all is well, though there's no standout performance and little truly challenging material – the guitar tone is burly, but could certainly be sharper. The production of Gallows is a bit soft and round, for lack of better words, not quite as crisp and cutting as similar efforts by the likes of Black Breath. Gallows would benefit from a sharper, uglier sonic attack. One instant plus is easy: the grinding, gnashing gnasty bass tone is absolutely killer. On the song front, while certain portions blur together, most of these tunes have merit -- there are moments like the black-tinted thrash in "Enter The Shadow Of A Tyrant," the half-time lurch of "The Trojan Whores" or the thrashing closer "Vivisection" (the album's best track, saved for last) that rise above the remainder.
My first few spins of One More For The Gallows gave me a great first impression, but over repeated listens, the lack of variety in the vocals and the softened production took their toll on me. All told, I’m left with the feeling that Summon The Crows is Black Breath’s little brother, more akin to that band’s earlier and thrashier output, but not as good as where they ended up, not as well-developed, not quite truly “there” yet. As it stands, between the Anti-Cimex d-beat, the early Dark Angel feral thrash and a few nods to Celtic Frost-like proto-black metal, Summon The Crows has constructed a grand template the potential of which remains unrealized. In Gallows, they've dropped a good collection of mostly stout riffage divided up into nine rollicking tunes of good but not amazing punk-metal. Given a few slight improvements in the formula, what comes next could likely be a barnstormer. These Crows are ones to watch, and dedicated fans of crusty thrashing punk will enjoy this, but this Gallows still falls squarely and respectably in the middle of the pack. Oh, well... There are certainly worse places to be…
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