Label: Black Bow Records
Given that they’re on Black Bow Records, and that Chris Fielding of Conan was involved in the recording, there’s no prizes for guessing that the latest from Warcrab, Scars Of Aeons, is incredibly heavy. That it combines bone-breaking heaviness with a real sense of enjoyment, and a talent for writing riffs and hooks that are superbly catchy, is perhaps more of a surprise. This is the kind of album that demonstrates just why sludge/stoner metal can be so much fun to listen to and play, with moments of death metal muscularity and melody giving Scars Of Aeons an accessible (in a good way) feel that helps make it one of the more enjoyably slices of heaviness to have come my way recently.
Opener “Conquest” sets the tone and scene well. An ominous build-up for an introductory section sees the tension rise as the volume does, with vocalist Martyn Grant bellowing commands like some barbarian warlord preparing for the sacking of Rome. It’s epic without being grandiose, powerful and inspiring without being crude, and by the time the song gets going properly some three minutes in, you’re as good as guaranteed to be under the band’s spell. From there, Warcrab don’t let go as they lead the listener through 34 minutes that balances heaviness with melody in a way that is too rare.
There’s also a varied feel to Scars Of Aeons that can be difficult to achieve without sacrificing heaviness, and it’s this which subtly shows off Warcrab’s songwriting talents. Second track “Destroyer Of Worlds” has a vague early Morbid Angel character to it that is very welcome, and the slow section around the two minute mark has an almost psychedelic, disturbing air to it , before the song shifts in to something distinctly groovy towards the end, as if Cathedral managed to combine their rock’n’roll side with their early heaviness. And this is just in one song, less than five minutes long. Elsewhere, “In The Shadow Of Grief” weaves in more melancholic melodies with it’s double-bass powered stomp, whilst “Bury Me Before I’m Born” is a lumbering, vicious beast of a song that still manages to feel enjoyable in the heaviest, more malevolent of ways.
The closing title track, at just over ten minutes long, is arguably the crowning glory of the album. Slowly coming to life like some ancient god rising to wakefulness, it’s a bruising behemoth of a track that never rests too long on one tempo or feel, shifting and changing with natural grace and skill, showing Warcrab at their full powers. The length may make it a slightly challenging listen, but there are still plenty of hooks, groove, and powerful riffs to keep attention held. It’s a suitably weighty end to the record, steep in both musical and emotional heaviness, though the way the closing feedback fades out so quickly is slightly disappointing.
This small complaint aside though, Scars Of Aeons is one of the most enjoyable, addictive pieces of doom I’ve heard in a while, and should appeal to a wide section of metal fans. Here’s hoping it gets the attention it deserves, because this album is great.