Post metal/atmospheric metal has an annoyingly ubiquitous sort of feel these days, doesn’t it? It seems as though every Friday we see yet another release of a band following in the footsteps of a Isis or Deafhaven, and more and more these releases continue to disappoint me, either through ad nauseam repeitition with little progression, or just uninspired songwriting. But I am here to say that although these releases won’t stop for a few more, there do exist some really good, post metal bands, although they’re very underground. In this case, I refer to Cranial and their debut EP Dead Ends, released by Germany’s Moment of Collapse Records.
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What I like most about this EP is that it has the post metal vibe of bands like Neurosis (in that sludgy guitars pretty much lead the songs by the nose), but it actually manages to keep things interesting while still remaining hard as nails. (I apologize to any Neurosis fans, but I find Through Silver In Blood and Times of Grace to be pretty difficult to sit through.) There are hints of other genres throughout, too: some parts of “Nightbringer” introduce black metal-inspired tremolo picking, and sometimes it slows down to a doom metal pace. “Limes,” in particular, features a main riff that sounds almost like it was inspired by YOB or some other very progressive doom act.
Again, Neurosis is probably the best band to compare to this, but that’s only because of the basic roots of Cranial’s songs; both “Nightbringer” and “Limes” seem to be hinged on these ultra-catchy sludge hooks, but that doesn’t mean that the band doesn’t deviate from it at all; they throw in some interesting riffs and licks that make you want to sit up and cognitively catch everything that is going on musically in Dead Ends.
This is, in my personal opinion, one of the best EPs I’ve listened to this year (so far). We can only hope for more–perhaps a full length?–from these guys in the near future.