CRAFT
"Fuck the Universe"

(Southern Lord/Carnal)

01. Earth a Raging Blaze
02. Thorns in the Planet's Side
03. Fuck the Universe
04. Assassin 333
05. Demonspeed
06. Terni Exustæ: Queen Reaper
07. Xenophobia
08. The Suffering of others
09. Destroy All
10. According to Him
11. Principium Anguis

RATING: 8/10

Having just reviewed HAEMOTH's "Kontamination", it is difficult to avoid comparing and contrasting it with CRAFT's "Fuck the Universe", at least to some extent. It is not as though the two discs sit on opposite ends of the spectrum The common denominator is one of quality black metal that emanates from a charred soul. Whereas HAEMOTH tortures with a shrill guitar tone and manic screech that deafens the ears and defeats the weak, the subtlely titled "Fuck the Universe" utilizes a mid-range, fuller sound to deliver its message. The Swedes infect the body with virulent strains of the foreboding death trip of MAYHEM and some DARKTHRONE rip 'n' tear grooves. HAEMOTH scrapes flesh from bone with a cheese grater; CRAFT melts it away, ensuring the victim is allowed to spend time enjoying a slow demise. In the end, the result is the same; only the methods differ.

Though there are many opportunities to revel in quick-kill atrocity, CRAFT excels at riding a rolling mid-tempo groove ("Demonspeed)", propelled by a steady beat, picking up speed and adding power with strategically placed double-bass thump without abandoning the rock steady beat ("Terni Exustæ: Queen Reaper" and "Xenophobia"). Making each riff count, sometimes dropping out excess instrumentation for effect, and racing forward with speedy (and nicely accented) drumming, altering the pace, and putting air under the guitars in the right places (i.e. "The Suffering of Others" and "Earth a Raging Blaze") allows one to savor each horrific note. Raw power, tough groove, and doomy atmosphere (ringing guitar chords, etc) is heard most impressively on "Thorns in the Planet's Side", a scalding solo and melodic leads two more examples of the mighty track's appeal. Vocalist Nox's rasp is vicious, but measured, the intent not so much to overwhelm (ala Emperor Magus Caligula of DARK FUNERAL), but to remain firm and threatening. Even the album's instrumental track, "Destroy All", is first rate, a tune characterized fat riffs and a bruising rhythm. And sometimes attacking decisely, killing quickly, and giving the troops a key line to shout is the best approach, the title track a case in point.

"Fuck the Universe" has it all: malice of forethought, compositional might, and a dark ambience that blots out every last ray of light. This one is a no-brainer for black metal fans. NOTE: Southern Lord has licensed "Fuck the Universe" from Carnal Records for North American release (January 24). Southern Lord encourages those residing on the opposite side of the pond to purchase the disc from the Swedish label.

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