Enslaved In Darkness (Reissue)
posted on 6/2012 By:
I came to the Stormcrow party around the time of their 2006 split with Sanctum, and it was something of love at first sound – in fact, I could listen to this kind of thing all day long. Sure, Stormcrow’s brand of filthy crusty death / grind is heavily indebted to Amebix, Asphyx and early Bolt Thrower, but I could also listen to Amebix, Asphyx and Bolt Thrower all day long, too. The primal rumble, the palpably scuzzy tones, the titanic ugly heaviness at both doomy and driving tempos… It’s all here, and it all crushes.
In slightly under a decade of recording, this Oakland outfit managed only a series of splits and this one full-length, their debut, which was originally released in 2005. Now Selfmadegod is bringing Darkness back to light.
Enslaved is only five songs long, clocking in at 28 minutes total, and those tunes are pretty straightforward given the band’s influences – this Darkness is more about filthy destruction than any kind of progress or style-twisting innovation. The title track opens with crashing chords and a doomy Bolt Thrower riff, before the whole thing kicks in and drives its point home with snarling crust-death riffage atop pounding drums and a clanking, gnarly bass tone. “Anguished Existence” shifts up and down from a lumbering mid-tempo crush to a swinging uptempo gait, and both speeds are guaranteed to get the neck moving. In similar fashion to the opening number, the album-ending 7-minute “New Messiah” trudges through monolithic guitar lines before picking up steam into a thrashing rager, and dropping back into that trudging lumbering swagger for a full two minutes to wind it down. So, yes, there is a bit of a formula here, but there’s no denying that it works, and by keeping the whole thing down to less than half an hour, Stormcrow has sense enough not to wear out their welcome. Get in, start slow, build up to a dirty little thrash and bash, bring it down again, get out…
Stormcrow is sadly no longer with us, and though their whole approach may have been largely borrowed from giants of the past, they nevertheless created a beautifully ugly racket during their decade-long lifetime. Enslaved In Darkness is a grand example of their crusty metallic goodness, the only recording that's solely theirs. Were it only that this back-from-the-dead album had some extra material, be that some of the tracks from their other splits compiled or simply anything else (you could almost fit the band’s entire output on one disc), but sadly, that isn’t the case. Still, a good album salvaged from the sands of time is reward enough, so I won’t spend more time examining the teeth of the proverbial donated equine. Stormcrow was a kick-ass crust-metal collective, and Enslaved In Darkness is ample proof. If filthy punked-up death metal gets your blood moving, then this is damn near guaranteed to do the trick.
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