Album Review: Crafteon – “Cosmic Reawakening”

Crafteon

“Cosmic Reawakening”

Independent, 2017

Rating: 87%

Band page: https://www.facebook.com/crafteon/

Crafteon - Cosmic Reawakening cover art

It is not easy to get melodic black metal right. Go too far into the melodic territory, and you risk descending into the quasi-gothic self-parody. Go too far into the black metal aesthetic, and whatever benefits the melodic edge would have provided tend to rob the music of its immediate impact. On Crafteon’s debut release, I am pleased to report that the band gets the balance between the atmospheric nihilism of black metal and its dark melodicism just right, producing a righteous slab of metal bound to satisfy the purists and perhaps even win over a few converts from other styles of extreme music.

On “Cosmic Reawakening”, Crafteon offer up eight tracks that go through an enviable amount of dynamics, interspersing blast beats and aggressive passages with slower yet no less impactful sections to inject just enough order into the chaotic soundscape. While the guitar work is suitably atonal and unsettling, as befitting a true black metal release, the band smartly adds melodies that are, dare I say, almost catchy at times, and which provide a focal point for the dark ambience of the material. I could not help but think back to the evolution of Scandinavian black metal when it acquired a measure of melodic death metal aesthetic without sacrificing any of the blasphemous intensity, with the classic Dissection as the prime reference point.

Indeed, more than a few of Crafteon’s songs harken back to the peak Dissection style without sounding like a clone. “The Outsider” and “Dagon” are the prime examples of this tendency, both well-written, memorable, and rooted in the same nihilistic foundations which spawned the genre greats. The melodies are intelligently crafted to retain the disturbing atmosphere without the saccharine overtones, reminding the listener that “Cosmic Reawakening” is a black metal release, as uncompromising and violent as one would expect from the style. The focus is not on speed but on the feel of the music, which creates a very rewarding listening experience without sacrificing the brutality.

Lyrically, the album is rooted in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which is a great thematic fit for the music. The vocal approach tends towards the standard (albeit well performed) extreme metal fare, but the harsh screams are occasionally accentuated by debased chanting and subtle yet effective backing vocals. This works particularly well on tracks like “The White Ship”, where the melodies veer towards more hopeful territory somewhat reminiscent of early days of Gothenburg melodic death metal, only to be brought down into the nihilistic despair evoked by the lyrical content. By following a slightly more straightforward structure and a different melodic foundation, it is bound to be either one’s favorite or one’s least favorite track on the record, but it most certainly stands out and provides a good focal point for the album.

Crafteon is at its best when the music hits the listener like the proverbial wall of barely organized chaos, tied together with strong melodies yet never abandoning the intensity. While towards the end of the record, the aggression takes somewhat of a back seat to the atmospherics, the quality remains very consistent. The end result is a highly focused, interesting release bound to appeal to the cold dark hearts of the black metal audience, and with enough potential to interest fans of other genres of extreme metal music due to the intelligent use of melodies, memorable songs, and genuine atmosphere.