Ancient-Egyptian-themed blackened death metal is a weirdly popular niche. It’s easy to understand the appeal, but just how popular the style can be is surprising at times. What’s even more surprising is that few of these bands are actually from Egypt (mostly this review’s namesake and Scarab). Enter Crescent, a band formed in 1999 but only put out their debut in 2014. Hailing from Cairo, they’ve fit in comfortably to this style, and ready to make waves with their second full-length, The Order of Amenti.
If this extremely specific niche were to be a spectrum from Nile to Melechesh, where the former represents the full-on technical death metal angle and the latter is more or less black metal, Crescent would be closer to their comrades named after the famed river. However, it would be unfair to paint Crescent as simply imitating Nile. The band definitely have their own distinct style, with more groove and a mid tempo vibe. If one must make comparisons, it would be to middle-era Behemoth more so than Nile, if one were to set aside the Egyptian thing.
There’s the occasional synths and flair to keep things fresh, but those elements are definitely under-utilized. Many of the songs have big moments where the synth hits make the chords bigger, but there isn’t a lot of ambient or textural enhancement going on consistently. This feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, as when everything comes together in those climactic riffs the songs sound extraordinarily strong, whereas they otherwise feel rather hollow. It’s hard to criticize a band for not including instruments that are entirely out of their wheelhouse, but considering Crescent flirt with these elements frequently, it makes their lack more glaring.
What does the music sound like during the rest of the playtime, though? It’s perfectly decent blackened death metal. Artists like Vader or Behemoth have a sinister tone over their death metal riffing, whereas Crescent instead have a more uplifting and distinctly Middle-Eastern character. The gimmick can sometimes be a crutch though, as some of the riffs aren’t particularly remarkable beyond the thematic interplay. In a world where it would be possible to somehow separate out the Egyptian influences from the band’s sound and isolate the “regular metal” parts, Crescent would be a decent, slightly above average death metal band. As such, the end product ends up being more than a sum of its parts.
The production is good for a band that isn’t on a big publisher with a robust budget, however it isn’t something that particularly elevates the band’s writing either. This trend continues through many aspects of the band’s sound, as they do a perfectly competent job on everything, but don’t particularly shine in any area.
Overall, The Order of Amenti is a solid album. It isn’t extremely remarkable in any particular aspect, but the niche Crescent operate in is small enough that doing a totally decent job is good enough to get noticed. They’re good meat-and-potatoes blackened death metal with an Ancient Egyptian theme, and there’s always room for more of that stuff, especially when it’s made by people living in the region.
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The Order of Amenti was released on February 9th via Listenable Records. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to grab it.