01. March of the Worm 02. Another Vulture 03. Thy Nazarene 04. Bound to the Negative 05. Leaving the Skin 06. A Light We Cannot See 07. Sparrow
For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, THE CRAWLING are the best bad time you will ever have. Defiantly morbid and perpetually tormented by the very concept of existence, they have established their own uniquely grim strain of death/doom metal across two excellent full-length albums. They also fucking crush live, but that's a story for another day.
Preceded by tantalizing stand-alone single "Sparrow" — which reappears here, as a bruising grand finale — "All Of This For Nothing" may be bereft of hope in thematic terms, but the evolution the Northern Irish trio have undergone since 2017's "Anatomy Of Loss" debut is self-evident, and their progress has inspired them to make their most imaginatively despondent body of work to date.
The roots of death/doom are omnipresent in THE CRAWLING's world of woe. Anyone raised on the scowling macabre of early PARADISE LOST and MY DYING BRIDE should already be a fan at this point, but if not, "March of the Worm" is a murderous, black-hearted opening dirge that wears its colors with pride. But like many of the best songs this band have released, it then takes an unexpectedly circuitous route to its final destination, stopping off at suppurating doom along the way. When melodies emerge from the jagged melee, they are carbonized black and purposefully transient: suffering is, as ever, the main attraction, and "March of the Worm" is dwelling-on-death metal at its absolute bleakest. With an intro that idly echoes the gothic horror of BAUHAUS, "Another Vulture" allows itself a few brief glimmers of light, but again, THE CRAWLING are intuitive pessimists, and the song slowly builds into a jarring, anguished mantra of thwarted fury.
Sober and steely-eyed, "Thy Nazarene" marks a return to the refined gothic metal of previous gems like "Poison On My Skin" (from "Anatomy Of Loss"),dialing down the aggression and allowing the iciness of ill winds to fill the sonic void. It's a truly great song, perhaps in spite of the overwhelming claustrophobia it generates. Next, "Bound to the Negative" proudly conforms to a more straight-ahead, melodic doom framework, showing THE CRAWLING in their masterful and morose element, as they casually make nihilism sound both graceful and impressive. "Leaving the Skin" sticks to a languorous gait, but veers off at sinister angles, conjuring intrigue and tension in between blasts of jagged, tar-black riffing.
There is hope in sight, as someone wise once said, but the grim reality is never less than sumptuous. "A Light We Cannot See" is a particularly impactful piece: fueled by the haughty muscularity of peak MORBID ANGEL, it begins as a grotesque lava-stream of riffs, before shifting gears, embracing an always-welcome '80s metal gallop, and then plunging deep into the death/doom abyss for final descent into despair. When the closing "Sparrow" begins, its familiarity is briefly reassuring, but rarely has a metal song crept and slithered with such conviction, and THE CRAWLING sound collectively thrilled at the chance to get under people's skin. "All Of This For Nothing" is full of moments like that, where palpable hopelessness collides with heavy music that stirs the soul, no matter how doomed. Crawl on, masters.
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