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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Craft - Fuck the Universe

If there's anyone still checking in, greetings once again; I've been sick since the holidays, this past weekend being the worst, but a Happy New Year to you and why not make the first blog entry obnoxious? I don't subscribe to Satanism, but there are some black metal acts out there who should at least be acknowledged for musical prowess, if not their personally unappetizing ideology. It's a free world, though, and before I become hypocrital of my rules of conduct, I'll shut up and let the review talk.

Craft – Fuck the Universe (Southern Lord) Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Every time I see a Southern Lord package in my mailbox, I can’t help but smile. Perhaps it’s the raging fun interview I had last fall with Sunn O))) and Goatsnake figurehead (and co-owner of Southern Lord) Greg Anderson, but I think it has more to do with the fact that Southern Lord unashamedly reaches its sinewy claw into metal’s darkest nether regions and comes up with some of its most vibrant and gloriously nefarious music in the underground today. Whether it be the restoration of Saint Vitus classics to the metal masses, the swing shift gloomy ambience of Nortt and Xasthur, the otherworldly, cultish sways of Dylan Carlson and Earth, the overtly fuzzbombed fun of Boris, the manic doom of Earthride's Vampire Circus, or in this case, the astringency of Swedish black metallers, Craft, Southern Lord does its damnedest, plain and simple.

You may have seen Craft recently lurking about on Napalm Records, but as Fuck the Universe comes to us through Southern Lord on license from Carnal Records, this tool of terror is an entertaining blend of both doom and black metal that should satiate the appetites of both sanctions.

The driving anger alone on “Thorn in the Planet’s Side” sneers lyrically, but it’s the steady tempos that pound in both single and double-time, as well as the well the eerie, Goth guitar rhythms that propels this bitter track into a highly listenable fugue fest. Try to escape the forlorn finale of this one; its despair is mesmerizing. Have no fear of its trance, for Craft accelerates itself on the title track, which, as on each satanic song on Fuck the Universe, it can be taken deadly seriously if you subscribe to Craft’s black litany, or you can laugh yourself silly at it. I’m willing to the roll the bones Craft doesn’t care either way, so long as you’re listening.

The dejected harmony of “Assassin 333” talks about a mythical despoiler that will bring Hell on Earth faster than you can figure out Pinhead’s goddamned puzzle box, and you will feel every ounce of the track’s woe. The devilishly bobbing beat of “Demonspeed” is stronger for its mid-tempo pace instead of succumbing to a more obvious thrash cadence; the longer it pounds straightforwardly, the harder it becomes. This one’s guaranteed to push your chin up and down for the whole five minutes of the song’s duration. As if to make up for the fakeout on “Demonspeed,” the ensuing tracks “Terni Exusta: Queen Reaper,” “Xenophobia” and “Suffering” make it up with brisker tempos that outdo one another in succession, and as the rest of Fuck the Universe progresses, the album just gets stronger and blacker

Was this little breakdown really necessary, though? After all, you’ve probably already set it in the back of your mind that an album called Fuck the Universe needs to be in your paws by mere attrition. You seldom get an album title so blatant and uncensored in this day and age its geek factor alone should generate interest. If you’re curious as to whether or not there’s actual substance beyond so bald-faced a title, rest assured there’s plenty.