Review: The Crotals – Horde

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Label: Tenacity Music 

Rock’n’roll’s simple, isn’t it? You put together some riffs that make people want to dance, play them loud, and you’re pretty much sorted. That’s the theory, anyway; in practice, it’s much harder to get those qualities just right, and to write songs that are as fun to listen to as they are to play. It’s a balance that The Crotals largely get right on new album Horde, with plenty of swagger, and a heaviness that’s reminiscent of Entombed-via-Motorhead. Throw in some Kverlertak-esque grooves, and Horde becomes an interesting proposition, that’s a lot of fun; but it’s also one that is slightly less than the sum of its parts.

The first two tracks on Horde are possibly the best. Opener ‘Falling’ wastes little time before launching in to a full-bloodied assault, all stomping drums, commanding vocals, and riffs that are like the love-child of Matt Pike and Lemmy. It’s also a slightly bleak song, with a melancholic edge to some of the riffs and melodies, but that takes nothing away from the ultra-heavy rock’n’roll swagger the song has.

Following track ‘Hello’ is my favourite on the Horde, and the most distinctive song on the album. Moving with a dramatic ebb and flow, the song has an almost Melvins feel to its forward-thinking heaviness – something that the use of a brass section only emphasises. There’s a real swing to the song, that’s at stark odds with the lyrics, that shift from almost jovial in to something quite dark by the end of the song, with the central refrain of “Hello! I hate you!”.

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From there, Horde carries on in the expected ways – plenty of heavy riffs, a few melancholic hints to the melodies, but overall it’s an album that is powerful, up-tempo, and fun to listen to. The trouble is that, over the remaining eight songs, there’s less sense of variety, with the end result being that they kind of blur in to one. It’s ironic in a sense, as – when played as stand-alone tracks – there is clear variety between the songs, such as the mid-tempo stomp of ‘Fissures’ and following track ‘Skogen’s’ rocking swagger; yet something about the production strips some of the details away from the tracks. It doesn’t necessarily take anything substantial away from Horde, but there’s the feeling that, with a little more overt variety – or more of the experimental leanings shown on ‘Hello’ – the album could be even better.

Not that this will be foremost in your thoughts. Horde is the kind of album that has a way of simply bowling the listener over, taking you with The Crotals as they embark on their rock’n’roll ride. And sure, whilst for the most part they follow the expected routes, there’s still joy to be found in them – a reminder of just how good heavy riffs played loudly can be to listen to over a half hour. It’s not the sort of album that is going to change your life, but it will provide some solid entertainment – and sometimes, that’s exactly what you’re needing.

Horde is due for release on 7 September 2018, and can be pre-ordered digitally and on CD via Bandcamp.

 

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