Fuck the Universe
Man, "fuck the universe" is right, my holiday season has seen enough death and personal upheaval and losing and getting and subsequent losing of jobs and psychic reverberation that I wholly concur with the sentiment. I think it started around the time I forgot my place and uttered the words "Things are really starting to go my way" and then I get an out-of-the-blue call from my ex-wife, just to touch base, and the landslide began. But what you gonna do? You can curl up in a fetal position, cradling Belle and Sebastian and your wounded soul on a busted Walkman, ineffectually sheilding it from falling debris with your weak body, you can adopt an air of detachment and listen with bemusement to German techno streams off the web and slowly erode away, or you can put on a set of Viking horns, smear a little blood on your face and attack the uncaring, unforgiving cosmos with a fury so legion, the Ironic Gods will think twice before they shit on your Good Ship Lollipop again, and lo, may Sweden's infernal sons Craft be the soundtrack for your final countdown.
Craft has been dishing up heaping bowls of riff-heavy displeasure with the human condition since 1994. In the web interviews I've read, they carefully sidestep any associations with the Neo Nazi sectors of Black Metal (I always worry that my fascination with this shit is going to result in me giving press to racists, which will only serve to haunt me later in life when I'm slated to get a Pulitzer) opting instead to hitch their death wagon on Old School Hate - a wish for Chaos and annihilation. I personally don't believe in Chaos, I think its a sexy costume being donned by Ignorance of The Big Picture, with tassles made of Cowardice but whatever. To me, Black Metal is more about form than function. Craft thankfully also sidesteps those horrible trigger-drums that a lot of these groups employ to put up a swarm of mayhem, and ride heavy ass riffery like the dark horse of the apocalypse it is.
Also it means you can actually tell the songs apart even if the vocals are a garbled demon-swallow of "Chaossssss" and so on. Notable tracks here are the slow buzz saw of "Thorns in the Planet's Side" where the guitars are allows to bleed through on their own once in a while in the thick menacing swamp of Sabbath sludge and swinging-noose despair; "Terni Exustra: Queen Reaper" - a blazing kidney-punch of a song, like a classic Iron Maiden track boiled down to its writhing angry carcass; and the final nail in this coffin of a record "Principium Anguis" (I wish there was a Doom metal band that sung all their lyrics in Latin - let me put that on my ever growing to-do list right after "Start Jogging") which sways from hammer blow menace to full swirling maelstrom at the end.
I've been listening to enough of this stuff to start discerning the wheat from the chaff, and Craft are the stuff that I want my bread of doom made from. Thick, unrelenting but not irritating, mid-tempo noxious mayhem. When I want the misery beat out of me, I want it done in blows like it is on Fuck the Universe, not by the sewing machine rhythm of your more everyday Black Metalact. As the final growl fades out of site and I am left to once again hear the prattle of the office, the giggles and insipid simper of the people Craft sings about destroying (I actually just heard "It is FRIDAY, and I am ready to part-TAY" over the cubicle wall, left hand to Satan) a sinister calm over comes me. Ahh, Black Metal, is there anything you can't do?
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
Sharon and Rob and Carrie are back as the happiest foul-mouthed family on TV