Mathcore has one of the most glaring misnomers in modern music’s arbitrary and unhelpful genre game. Sure, there may be great degree of compositional analytics required in order to real the gnashing aural beast into a presentable exhibit. But from a strictly sonic perspective, there is not a single element of the genre that feels remotely calculated, as every raucous moment of a mathcore album batters the listener like an unsolvable problem rather than a manageable problem set. Minnesota natives The Crinn exhibit a clear drive to epitomize this on their latest record Shadow Breather, an album that places them handily within mathcore’s pantheon and presents one of the most jarring genre offerings in recent memory.
A couple of elements set Shadowbreather apart, both concerning The Crinn’s treatment of their sound. This is primarily concerning the music’s packaging; the album bears an aura that reaches beyond the typical confines of mathcore. At their core, The Crinn conjures easy comparisons genre heavyweights like Botch, Converge, Gaza and (especially) The Dillinger Escape Plan, albeit with a darker and rawer attitude. It is precisely this flair that sets Shadowbreather within a broader musical context. A majority of The Crinn’s spastic, angular guitar riffs and drumming seems to bear an accent comparable to the progressive stylings of Krallice or even Deathspell Omega, a logical extension of the typical mathcore playbook with tantalizing results. Furthermore, the production choices present on Shadowbreather are pristine; shrill mathcore arpeggios and tremolos exist in harmony within a sturdy basin of meaty rhythm. The Crinn remain so delightfully heavy that name dropping Pyrrhon seems not only appropriate, but necessary.
‘Maze of Walls‘ may be reminiscent of DEP and the band certainly wears their Jane Doe patches on their sleeves on ‘Silent Betrayer’ and ‘Against the Flow,’ but their unique style must be emphasized as well. The way that the Crinn spins this web of influences feels like a dense, crusty cobweb ensnaring an enormous hornet’s nest abuzz with the most viciously claustrophobic members of the hive. Stampeding above this cacophony are John Nelson’s manic vocals, which are akin to Greg Puciato hopped up on a detrimental amount of dissociative drugs. Additionally, brief moments of variation appear throughout the album as well, namely a closing guitar riff on ‘Deaf Effort’ that takes on a scrumptious melodic twang. If there is a critique to levy at Shadowbreather, it is its unfortunate brevity. While most chaotic music drains the listener over the course of an album, The Crinn balance their mania in a way that is much more invigorating manner, which causes the twenty-seven minute run time to leave a parched palette. Perhaps an additional handful of tracks may have struck the perfect balance between exhilaration and exhaustion.
But when an album’s sole critique lies with the reviewer desiring more, it is impossible to describe the offering as anything other than a triumph. Shadowbreather is comprised of nine savage slabs of brutal mathcore that should catapult The Crinn to alpha status within the genre pack. Admittedly, this is not The Crinn’s We Are the Romans, Jane Doe or Calculating Infinity. But for anyone who experiences Shadowbreather, being told that The Crinn have an album of that magnitude in their future should not solicit an iota of doubt.
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The Crinn – Shadowbreather gets…