To describe The Crawling as one of the most impressive new bands to emerge from Northern Ireland lately is doing them a disservice. The trio from Lisburn, eight miles south west of Belfast, are in fact among the most impressive of new acts to have surfaced anywhere in the UK in recent times.
They have established their name by performing at festivals across Europe having already graced numerous large platforms such as Inferno, Metal Days, Shellshock and Bloodstock to name a few. As for Ireland’s very own music fest – the underground secret that is The Siege of Limerick – they’re practically house guests, and will return again at the end of this month for the 20th anniversary of the two-day festival.
Wolves and the Hideous White is The Crawling’s sophomore album and successfully builds on the secure foundations laid by last year’s full length debut Anatomy of Loss. What really enables this rising triumvirate to poke their head above the crowded parapet of the extreme metal scene is their ability to deliver the menace and aggression of death metal but enveloped within a marauding mid-tempo dark cloak of doom.
This is no Dying Fetus or Obituary knockout. Instead they take you the distance, gradually ramping up the tension, applying the thumbscrews and asserting their commanding musical presence. Singer Andy Clarke sounds as though he’s had a builder’s brick for breakfast not a bacon butty. The vocals are harsh, domineering and lead you on a trip into some pretty dark places, whether you want to go or not.
The album opener, its title track, is a-six minute rumbling beast of a song, never fully let loose though as the trio keep a firm grip on the reins. As its title correctly suggests, the mood on “Still No Sun” is again overwhelmingly dark, a siren like thread opening things up before the riffs roll in, this time with much more crunch while a combative chug reoccurs throughout, hooking you back in each time.
While The Crawling have always attracted as many admirers for their doom approach as their pacier material, they elevate things to a whole new level on arguably the album’s standout track, “Drowned in Shallow Water”. With more than a few echoes of My Dying Bride, this is a moving number that cruelly plays your heartstrings like a concert cellist. There’s an aching melancholy running through its core that give this sorrowful song a real sense of despair and shows just how The Crawling have upped their game since their debut album.
On “A Time for Broken Things,” the album’s shortest song, the Irish trio surge relentlessly on, with a myriad of layers somehow interlocking without a step being missed before even greater melodies, albeit ones cut in teak, light up penultimate piece “Rancid Harmony.” Closing track “Promises and Parasites” is another epic number Andy Clarke’s harsh vocal bites and guitar licks supported by Stuart Rainey’s meandering bass and energetic skin surges from sticksman Gary Beattie.
Wolves and the Hideous White cements The Crawling’s reputation as a band to keep on the right side of. While complex and challenging, this remains an innately listenable album and one on which you’ll discover hidden threads and nuances every time you return.