Artist: Crawl Below
Album: 9 Mile Square
Label: Lawnmowerjetpack Records
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Country: United States
Crawl Belowis a solo project by the Connecticut based, genre defying multi-instrumentalist Charlie Sad Eyes. This particular release is a blend of doom, post-metal and shoegaze. This release follows the 2019 album We Approach The Altar Only In Darkness. The album was written in 2013 and re-recorded in April 2020 at Black Mold Studio. The remixing work by Dave Kaminsky was done at Studio Wormwood and mastering was done by Ryan Williams at Augmented Audio.
This is a concept album about Norwich, Connecticut, the artists explain each track below:
“Feed The Towers is about the casinos.
Fire On The Hill is about Lantern Hill.
Kingdom Of The Ruined is about the Norwich State Hospital.
Monument is about Miantonomo.
Tarnished The Name is about the traitor Benedict Arnold.
Nine Miles Square is about current day Norwich.”
As someone who doesn’t really listen to a huge amount of shoegaze, I tend to find the genre a little slow for the most part. However, when blended with other genres such as doom or black metal it tends to become very interesting. It gives those genre’s a sort of atmosphere all of their own, one that is somewhat soothing and immersive. There is a certain smoothness that comes with the blend that I end up enjoying and this album is no exception. There’s somewhat of a sad or mournful tone to the album, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it depressing. At the same time there is also a sort of upbeat (or maybe a better word is hopeful) energy present. I know that those two things should contradict each other but if you listen to the album (which you should) you’ll see what I mean. There are also some definite pos-metal elements on the album, which makes sense because doomgaze and post-metal are two genres that fit together perfectly.
The vocals are definitely of a doom influence but as mentioned they have that sort of atmospheric smoothness to them. There is plenty of emotion in Charlie’s voice and that’s not the only place on the album that you’ll find it. The guitarwork itself has a certain emotional tone to it and when combined with the vocals really makes the album quite moving. On that topic, there are two layers of guitar on the release, a heavier, fuzzier tone and a lighter, softer tone that shifts in acoustic elements in parts. The bass tone is equally as smooth and really works well with the two guitar styles, really shining its brightest when played in unison with the lighter acoustic segments where it takes center stage. The drum work is somewhat basic, but it is exactly what the album needs, if it was more complex or intense it would throw off the balance of the entire album. At times though it does lean towards the heavier/doomier side of things.
Overall, this is a solid release and one that really surprised me. As mentioned, I’m generally not a shoegaze fan so when I listened to this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m happy to say though that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and I think you will be too. So, take some time and check out the two pre-released tracks and order the album or come back tomorrow to hear it all.
Listen to and order the album below: