This review originally appeared in The Grim Tower February 10, 2014
With this Casket Crew album, all I got was a cover and the songs. So that’s what I’m using to go off on this review. It’s not a very long release, with a punch in the drums and groove riffs that remind me a bit of Motorhead, but with a sort of snake-like gravel on the vocal end. But that’s when opener “Coercion 3:45″ changes into something a bit more structured and interesting. You know? That’s not too bad for almost four minutes. Then we’ve got “Bones 5:29″ which changes things a bit more. First of all, it’s got a clean vocal approach which I would connect more with spoken word than singing. The song itself has a nice tone with a deep vocal bite and even an impressive solo piece that shows The Casket Crew aren’t playing around. Seriously, in the first two songs I’m already noticing potential. To be honest, this one’s a bit long; but it’s great. The song flows nicely and it’s got several layers of meat to add to its bones. Which is also kind of funny, since that’s also the songs name. At any rate, that’s a highlight if I’ve ever heard one.
Alright guys. So you can wow me with “Bones.” But can you do anything else? Let’s see. Next we’ve got “They Live, We Sleep 4:16″ which goes back to the style of the opener in nature, yet features a backing spoken vocal. These rasps are quite catchy, quite Carcass.
Since we’re doing this is real time, I want to mention that I just discovered a bit of information about the band in another folder as well as several photos. They’re an American Doom/Thrash act, which describes the sound perfectly as far as I’ve so far heard; and they’re from Denver Colorado, who got their asses slaughtered at this year’s Super bloodbath-er… Bowl. But that’s beside the point. As for the band, I see four guys and I’m trying to figure out which one of them does the vocals. My money’s on the bald guy. He just sounds like he’s got to be James Rodrock, the founder of the band and their guitarist/vocalist. That would mean that one of the other guys would have to be James Casady who plays the bass and does the melancholy background vocals. Another one of these guys is Danny Mingus, who’s on the lead and that would leave Jesse Newland on the drums. Also, this ain’t their first rodeo; as this marks their third release and you won’t be able to grab it until March 6th of this year. While I was typing all that, I was listening to “Funeral Dirge 4:18″ which sees the band at a thunderously depressive low, complete with another great solo and an atmosphere worthy of the piece. This one leans more to doom than thrash, but I’m not complaining.
“Watery Graves 3:31″ kicks back into thrash, and I do have to add that the thrash these guys play isn’t completely thrash, it’s got a progressive element that makes it much more entertaining to listen to. They definitely have their groove parts which seem to flow seamlessly with the more calculated sections of the track. The effort makes for a total standout. The cleverly named “Dethanol 5:17″ comes next and I just love this vocal approach. It works perfect with the grooves – this is something you just have to hear for yourself to really understand what I’m talking about. The snakelike vocals sort of creep along the riffs, making for a very ominous sort of atmosphere. I wonder if these guys sound this good live? Maybe they’ll make a trip to Little Rock, where I can see them. The song actually changes tempo in the middle, allowing for some very stellar things. Again, this is something you’ll just have to hear. And not everyone’s going to get it – I understand that. But it works for me on a personal level and some of you might feel the same. “All Consuming 4:29″ comes next, packed with grooves and bite, but doesn’t really stand apart from some of the other tracks. There are certain sections in the piece I do like however. The disc ends with “New World Chaos 4:42″ which sounds like sludge fused with prog. As odd as that sounds, that’s what I’m getting here. And for further reference, there’s nothing wrong with that.
So the disc isn’t all that long, but it’s definitely got the sludge, doom, groove and thrash that I’d expect. But what I didn’t expect was the prog. It’s not overtly progressive, but progressive riff melodies exist on this album. At times I think I’m listening to Death and other times I think I’m listening to a sludgier Carcass. I can’t find one song on the disc that I would consider garbage, but there are definitely stronger pieces on the album than others. As you can expect. While the music of The Casket Crew might not be for everyone, I’d certainly recommend that those fans of the sludge and doom variety give the album a shot. It’s not something you hear every day, from a band that not many people know about. And as I’ve said before, it’s the unknowns who will be capable of true innovation. We don’t need more djent riffs, we need more stuff like progressive sludge. Or maybe something completely different, which hasn’t been thought up yet. That’s what I care about and that’s why I’m giving these gentlemen high marks for their release. A positively solid effort, so don’t let it go unheard. And ignore what the big magazines say – trust your fucking ears, folks!
Highlights: Bones, Watery Grave, Dethanol, New World Chaos (8 Tracks, 35:00) 8/10