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Sunday, April 26, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Crom Dubh go all out on Heimweh

LONDONER'S playing Celtic-tinged black metal...whatever next? Yep, four-piece Crom Dubh have gotten their d├ębut platter on the racks, and you'd swear in parts that the band have emerged from the ancient bogs of Ireland.

And, dear constant reader, if you remember our recent review of the excellent Cave of Swimmers release you will know we have a pretentiousness alarm...and when we read the PR blurb accompanying Crom Dubh's 'Heimweh' release you'll understand that it was blaring at full blast...

Here's a sample: ."...music channels the folk songs of the old world through the eschatological* prism of second-wave black metal and post rock.

"All Crom Dubh lyrics are written and sung by Beonetleah in Old English, Old Norse, and Latin. They are translated into Modern English for the benefit of the modern reader on the album sleeve."
Now, when you read something like that it is hard not to snigger. But that would be unfair - we believe that it is important to give as many releases as we can a good solid listen before judging.

And, to our delight, despite the impenetrable lyrics, there is a lot of good music going on here. 'Sedition' in particular - all eight minutes, 42 seconds of it - stands out. Incessant riffing, an atmospheric feeling that channels the spirit of Thin Lizzy if Darkthrone were covering Lizzy riffs...That sounds weird, but it works.

But, that Celtic sound, and describing themselves as "post-rock" [whatever the fuck post-rock is...] gets in the way. 'Kings II' is a great track, but it is hard to get away from thinking 'Primordial' at times.

When they step away from that template, for example on the title track and 'Sailing to Byzantium' their identity is more distinct.

Having listened more thoroughly to this release several times, we just can't make our minds up. The music is enjoyable, the concept seems sincerely developed, but until we stand in front of them at a live show we'll just say that there are some great tracks on the release, but our pretentiousness alarms are still blaring. For example here's a chunk more of the PR blurb:

"Crom Dubh's debut full-length, 'Heimweh' ('Homesickness'), continues the narrative of the 2010 EP 'Deifr', in which the gathering and dissolution of a great river operated as a metaphor for the rise and fall of nations and civilizations.
"'Heimweh' follows a similar narrative, albeit with a focus on the life of the lone indivi1dual within this tumult, following a traditional cradle-to-grave progression throughout the course of the album that runs parallel to Hesiod's five ages of man. The album handles themes of loss, rootlessness, nostalgia, exile, and death, thinking on the journey ahead and the way home.

"The band explain the main theme of the album:

‘Home-coming’ is one of the most prominent themes in the Western canon, implicit in the Classical and Judaeo-Christian traditions; whether it be the search for a promised land, the promise of an eternal afterlife, Odysseus’s journey to Ithaca, or Oedipus’s ill-starred return to Thebes.

'This governing idea is common to all those who inherited and shaped this tradition (e.g. Virgil, Augustine, Boethius, Dante, Chaucer, Milton) in recorded history, but is probably a deep-time signature that is as old as humans, and part of our survival mechanisms as a species; part of the same instinct that sent us island hopping in the pacific in prehistory, that now drives us to find a new home on a red planet.

'Both horrified and entranced by our inevitable return to dust, our compulsion is to understand the return home in terms of master narratives, misleading though these may be. This impulse is true of individuals, societies, and - since we have begun to understand ourselves on a cosmic scale - our species.

‘Heimweh’ (‘Homesickness’) confronts and embraces this contradictory formula, in a cradle-to-grave narrative following the eternal recurrence of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
"Crom Dubh (pronounced Crom Doo or Crom Doobh) is an Irish harvest god, whose name translates into English as ‘the dark and crooked one’. Crom Dubh is a forgotten god, whose fragmentary identity lingers only as a palimpsest of millennia-old traditions buried by later accretions. Crom Dubh is a potent metaphor for the ancient world swept to the far corners of our everyday experience; a world of awesome and terrible power that most would rather keep hidden from thought and sight."

You know what though....when you read that it is not that daft compared to some prog bands....yep, Heimweh gets a qualified thumbs up from us.

Review by Jonny
 * http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eschatology

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