I’ll be honest here: I’ve always been partial to a little bit of (whisper it): black ‘n roll. I mean almost everyone jams a bit of Guns n’ Roses, Kiss, Crüe or whatever else floats your boat when they’re drunk as shit, what’s so bad about a little stomp ‘n groove in the genre we all know and love, right? It cops a lot of hate from purists but hey, even the grimmest of the grim are allowed a little fun once in a while.
And fun is exactly what it seems Sweden’s longstanding black metal misanthropes Craft seem seem to be having lately. Slowly inching further away from trve kvlt with every release, their last album ‘Void’ possibly went down like a dick joke at a funeral depending on how crispy you like your cornflakes and they’re only pushing even further in that direction for fifth album ‘White Noise and Black Metal’.
They’ve always had an element of rock in their mid-paced attack and expertly blended a grimy swagger with genuine darkness and menace. This time around all bets are off and they’re going for it harder than ever before; and with the cleanest sound they’ve ever had, too. The overall tone is also relatively lighter when compared to their older work and there’s nothing so negative as even say, ‘The Dark Surrenders’ to be found.
While this news might have made the colour drain from a few corpse-painted faces, don’t pack it in just yet; they haven’t become the black metal Nickleback. It may not be as primal as ‘Fuck The Universe’ but they still command a great anti-cosmic energy, the blazing riffs they’re known for are still there in glorious abundance, and they retain just the right amount of dirt in their sound to still be viciously effective. The songwriting feels like it’s been kicked back up a notch and around popping up on the latest At The Gates record Nox puts in a solid vocal performance. Session drummer Daniel Moilanen kills it; hell, I even really dig the Zbigniew M. Bielak cover art (which seems an extension of what he had going down on the last Portal release).
What we have here is something that’s not quite “mainstream” yet, but getting there. A slightly more polished version of their intensity and darkness that frequently explodes into cocksure vulgar displays of head-banging power. It’s fucking fun, and you listen to details like the lead connection drop-outs in the rockin’ first half of ‘Undone’ and tell me they aren’t enjoying themselves too.
Despite any misgivings some may have with the evolution and maturation of their sound, this is Craft, doing exactly what they want and ultimately not giving a fuck what you think. Is it the best thing they’ve done? Nah. Will it be your album of the year? Maybe, maybe not. Can you jam the absolute fuck out of it regardless?
Now that’s an undeniable yes.
Pre-orders available now through Season of Mist, releases 22nd June. Hails.
Purchase Craft‘s ‘White Noise and Black Metal’ on CD, cassette, vinyl or digitally from Season of Mist here.