Album: Crawling Chaos
Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes
Black Metal bands and fans alike pride themselves on the esoteric, be it the obscurity of the band, the mystery of their members, or the lyrical content about which they howl and scream. It is taken as an honorary badge of pride amongst fans to be current on the latest in the ever evolving underground scene with a constant crop of new acts shooting up, and comparing notes of authenticity and brutality, always digging deeper to try to find the more obscure. Crawling is that esoteric niche done to the marrow of its sole member, Helin E., with no label to back her, no social media accounts to inquire about lyrics (as there are none listed on her Bandcamp page) and a simple reddened picture of the artist themselves with the eyes blacked out. Even the name of the project and record, Crawling Chaos, are simplistic enough and omnipresent within the Metal community so as to obfuscate herself through plainsight so to speak, in an inverted embracement of that esotericism. Simply named, impossibly placed, and well worth the hunt, Crawling Chaos is the second demo from Crawling that packs a ruthless punch in the relatively brief eighteen minute timeframe.
Crawling Chaos begins with the track, Field of Broken Bones, a solid opener that hits with a tight groove and heavy riff. The initial punch to the gut is on a time delay and kicks in after a few moments of spacious silence, which serves as the first jarring experience for listeners, and a small note of subversion to also clue the listener in on the atypical Black Metal experience they are about to embark on. As a follow up to that point Crawling also opts out of aggressive blast beats and shrill guitar tuning, in favor of a more sedate pace and chunkier tone that borders the line between Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) and Blackened Doom Metal. What the track lacks in face melting speed, it makes up for in the heaviness that exudes through the summation of the tracks parts to create a wholly malevolent and crushing sound that is akin to the crumbling of gravestones, with Helin’s vocals grinding the stones to dust under the weight of her low end growlings.
Just after the two minute mark there is a slight feeling of up-tick in speed because there is an abandonment of the double bass drum driving forced and a more open hi-hat sizzling to create a sense of urgency that is abruptly halted with a break down and resurgence of the double bass that feels more like a chest pummeling than an actual blast beat giving an oppressive atmosphere when coupled with the vocals. The track pushes on with the steady and heavy hand that started us off and creates a sense of dreariness all its own in the way that it is a study in the grueling pressure of continuity of the harsh.
Filling is the track, I Hate Sunlight starts off in a similar fashion as Field, in that there is a momentary silence before the initial explosion. The difference however is the bass levels seem to be turned up in this track and creates a hollowed echoing on the initial drop in. This theme is continued throughout the track as there are several thrummings that continue after the initial hit that accompanies the Doom inspired groove, and are cleverly covered up to the point of not noticing it until it disappears leaving a singular guitar and a time-keeping crash and snare accompaniment utterly bare by comparison. This creates a massive hole in the track that makes the listener feel exposed after being insulated for the entirety of the first track and part way into this one as if they have been dragged out from their dwelling into a vast open field with the sun beating down on them. This is an interesting approach to isolationism and claustrophobia, as the representative elements are both removed and reinforced in such a way that it feels like a heavy exertion creating a wholly uncomfortable experience in not ever really knowing which you would prefer, the wise open space where there’s room to breathe, but being horribly exposed and viewable, or being contained and insulated with the cloying over abundance of insular sound creating a sort of sonic cocoon. This back and forth tug remains consistent throughout the track and creates for a more than heady experience than a traditionalized Black Metal record in its nuance, as the genre typically favors the aggressively straightforward and outwardly confrontational, whereas this feels more like an inner-based conflict.
Crawling Chaos ends with a self titled track, and begins without the initial pause of the preceding tracks, but instead a modulated chorus of creepily ritualistic sounding voices that feel as if they were in the midst of summoning something sinister. Perhaps they were, as Crawling Chaos is no doubt a reference to the infamous figure of Lovecraftian lore of the same name, who is one of the only outer gods to be on earth and who serves Azathoth, The Blind Idiot God, and who is said to be the one to bring about the destruction of earth, something not totally unaligned with Crawling’s artistic workings when one considers their only info about this demo on their Bandcamp page states, “Living, killing, torturing, decaying. My pleasure”. There is a blending of elements of the first two tracks in this final one, to the point of culmination, but not so much as to make it a cop out and an easy close. The track is never static in staying one modality of the Black Metal genre, or other extreme genres that can sometimes make listening to an album in its entirety a chore, especially when there is an over reliance on a formulaic outline. What Crawling does instead, is take the generic formula for Black Metal and interject variants of speed, formatting and slight incorporations of other genres, like Doom Metal, to create something fresh while still being authentic, especially when one considers the fact that this is a one person act, and thus embodying one of the core Black Metal tenements of “do it yourself”.
The track and record close with a resurgence of the chorus heard at the top of the track, that builds to a climactic, and open ended finish, that leaves the listener in desperate need for another fix by way of a following track. Unfortunately there is only one other demo out there for Crawling,Cult of Wind Scourge, and single release, Sleep Ritual of Bloodmoon, for us to get our fix for the time being, with the positive side being, that both demos were released relatively close together and Crawling is an extremely young from a project perspective, we can only hope that there is more on the horizon that equals such an accomplishment as we have in Crawling Chaos.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Crawling on Bandcamp: