WARCRAB – Damned In Endless Night

WARCRAB – Damned In Endless Night

The third album from the British sludgecorer’s engages with very good songwriting chops of Malevolent Creation High On Fire for a record of impenetrable overwhelming darkness.

Already, with the best and the most pertinent logo on the market, Warcrab arrests your attention, formed but 9 years ago. It took them 3 years to independently release the eponymous debut followed by "Ashes Of Carnage" EP 2 years after and "Scars Of Aeons" (2016) on Black Bow Records, before grabbing the attention of Kunal Choksi, the owner of Transcending Obscurity Records for the release of, this, their third opus. Meanwhile the lineup solidified as Martyn Grant (vocals), Paul "Budgie" Garbett (guitar), Leigh Jones (guitar), Geoff Holmes (lead guitar), Dave "Guppy" Simmonds (bass) and Rich Parker (drums). That’s right, there are 3 guitarists in Warcrab, which is the first of two characteristics to separate their brand of sludgecore from the similar pack, the second being their ability to seamlessly incorporate old school death metal the likes of Malevolent Creation or Obituary into their sound. The resulting wall of sound recalls somewhat the strength of Immolation’s "Close To The World Below" high on Machine Head’s "Burn My Eyes".

Examples of this deadly explosive mix are many but I particularly love the ones where they combine ballad-ic or epic melodicism with the deathly brutality, such as in the favorite, "Unfurling Wings of Damnation", where "Welcome Home:Sanitarium" Metallica invites Obituary’s "Slowly We Rot" for seemingly unlikely marriage which is, nevertheless, like two peas in a pod. Seemilarly, the last track proper, "Swords", expertly melds ancient Machine Head with "The Last Time" Paradise Lost melodicism while finishing with one of the most effective "growl the title along with mimicking riff" patterns since the last High On Fire album. And Malevolent Creation would likely want "Blood For The Blood God" on either "Retribution" or "A Fine Art Of Murder". It is all to no small thanks to fantastic melodic leads and solos recalling the best of 70s classic metal, whereby most melodicism is created that way rather than from the dissonance of the riffs, well, likely the third characteristic that makes them stand out from the similar acts.

A few tracks could use some variety, though. "In the Arms of Armageddon" starts off and carries impressively but dissolves into minimalistic Black Sabbath worship, "Magnetic Fields Collapse" has a very interesting intro a’la Machine Head’s "A Nation On Fire" but not enough piano-forte balance to stand out, while "Kraken Arise" adresses the "Roots" of Sepultura with Slayer-esque riffery yet without the necessary melodic overtones. Indeed, I mostly cherish Warcrab for their ability to mold the melodic and crushingly triple-guitar heavy into one, and those tracks seem to be wanting in this department, focused rather on brutality and heaviness than finesse.

"Damned In Endless Night" is a very good, flawlessly executed album, but I hope Warcrab will get even more progressive and unpredictible without losing the present sense of balance on future releases.