Do you ever have one of those “Whaaaaa…?” moments? I have them all the time. Last night, I was cooking a new kind of burger that had jerk seasoning in it, and I had one of those moments where I realized that I liked jerked food but also how have I been missing it this entire time. One of those kinds of moments, I mean. I have them a lot with music. I just come upon bands and records that fit into one of those little niches I love, and it’s usually more shocking that I hadn’t heard of it before or listened to it yet. Such was my reaction to Crystal Coffin and their first full-length, The Transformation Room.
Last year, many of us here at HBIH were blown away by the 5 track EP from the Vancouver trio. Their brand of sludgy black metal was dirty enough to get us all but melodic enough to keep us all locked in. The band has been together for only 2 years at that time, but their music showed a maturity far beyond their years. Speaking personally, I thought the songs were some of the most interestingly written songs I’d ever heard on an EP, especially considering they were the first songs the band had recorded together ever.
This year’s full-length shows a very rare kind of growth. While 3 of the tracks are re-recorded versions from the EP, they still blend seamlessly with the rest of the songs. Every song on this record fits into that same style they have established and showing off all the kinds of ideas that naturally grew out of the demo. Recording last year’s demo taught the band a lot about how to record an album and how to use the studio as a musical instrument.
Most importantly, the trio learned how to write a fully fleshed out song. These songs aren’t just riffs cobbled together. Every part of the song needs to be there, and every note, chord, melody, and beat is exactly what’s needed to build the songs to catharsis. While “I Emerge” hasn’t changed much from the demo to The Transformation Room, it still has that seeming progressive songwriting style, sections flowing effortlessly from one section to the next.
The better example of how the band’s songwriting has grown, look no further than “As Certain As the Grave.” The song needs to be built up to achieve what the band needs it to do. The really mature thing I noticed was how well each part of the song worked together. They all blend together to make a delightful listening experience, so you feel a similar feeling throughout the track. Even the dramatic turns still feel connected, a feat rarely truly achieved in music. In that way, it feels like this band has been making music for lifetimes, like they had it all figured out years ago. It makes The Transformation Room that much more impressive.
The Transformation Room is aa serious hell of a record. It has a seriously dark sound and depressive black metal sound that has a unique sense of melody and rhythm. Not many artists can achieve that in an entire career, much less on their first full-length album. I’ve already decided that this is a record I will be coming back to over and over again. I find its darkness quite beautiful and compelling. I believe it would be quite difficult to disagree, but you’re more than welcome to try.
The Transformation Room is available now via Bandcamp.