Reviewed: [October 2021]
Released [2021 Self Released]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The latest effort, or I should say efforts, from Danish bangers Crocell is the simultaneous release of two EPs – a la Guns ‘N Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II, though in much more modest form. And while the strategy might smack of dubious marketing – and/or beg the question, “well, why not just release it all as one album?” – the rationale, as explained by the band, makes sense.
To quote from their promo materials: “With five
full-length albums behind us we felt like approaching the writing process from different angle. So we did, and when we suddenly had written more material – and more diverse material – than expected, we found that the songs followed two distinct paths.” Crocell then recording the material in separate studios with different producers, and voila, two EPs that they are self-releasing after a decade of underground label-hopping.
Thankfully this is not a case where one of the “distinct paths” means an acoustic foray, country and western covers, electronic twaddle or some other sort of left-field experimentation. Crocell most definitely stick to their metal guns here, albeit with, well,
“distinct” flavors on Baptized in Bullets and Funeral Bliss, each of which offers four tracks.
Baptized continues in the vintage black metal vein that featured more prominently on the band’s last album Relics, echoing Anthems To The Welkin At Dust-era Emperor with its shrill, raging riffs, galloping tempos, shrieking vocals and occasional symphonic flourishes. It is an utterly ferocious 20 minutes of music, much more focused on forward motion than building atmosphere – though there is some of that here and there, like the horses and strings effects on “Chariots of Hellfire” or the creepy outro to “Cauldron of Attrition.” But who needs subtlety when unleashing the fucking fury will do the trick. And that’s just what Crocell does here. It isn’t very fancy, but it slays.
Funeral Bliss is more grind/death metal/hardcore oriented with an industrial hue that weaves its way in and out, recalling at times Converge, Motorhead, Aura Noir and hints of old Dismember and even Ministry on the title track. Here, too, the tempos are brisk – the droning title track excepting to a certain degree – driven by Andreas Posselt’s d-beats and blasts. But on top are ample chunky hooks and bracing bone-saw riffs from Tommy Christensen and Rasmus Henriksen that give the tunes swagger and heft. Brash, bold production helps in that regard as well. Bliss is super heavy and loud, and like Baptized unadorned by frills, which again works in its favor.
So there is a definite difference in the material on the two EPs that might have made for weird contrasts had it all been mashed together as a full album, especially if the songs were sequenced willy-nilly. And by packaging it as they have, Crocell end up with a pair very solid and, again, distinctive EPs that satisfy on their own where they might not have as one. So smart move after all.