CroneAs ‘Seven Bells’ was my favourite album of 2012 it was a bit of a no brainer picking this new EP by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist sG’s spanking new outfit Crone to review. He is not quite tackling everything by himself here but has death metal band Embedded drummer and guitarist Renzenbrink on hand to pump up the rhythm. I didn’t know what to expect with this although guessed it was going to be pretty dark and focussed and I have to admit that on first play the four tracks pretty much washed over me. I should never have underestimated anything involving the moon-man really though as by the second play I was clearly enjoying the nuances of the sound and then the next time had found that melodies and contrasts of the more rock etched sound had deeply entrenched themselves on my psyche.

‘Houses Of Gehenna’ mysteriously ebbs in with a sound that’s a bit on the gothic side and reminded a little of Fields Of The Nephilim, the darkness was there and the vocals rose to meet them with sG’s tones quickly recognisable. It’s gloomy and doomy but quickly rises to a more majestic slow-burning pitch with drums rolling and a moribund cragginess that would not be out of place on a Triptykon number. There’s something quite spellbinding here and as I found on repeated listens there’s a definite spark of magick to be found within its fronds. The sleeve art goes well as it gives the impression of cold weathered solidness as it digs in with immoveable tenacity, the 6 minute song having an epic invincibility about it before it downs tools to a fragrant acoustic end. Continuing into ‘Your Skull Sized Kingdom’ with a gentle approach it’s got a dreamy flow to it and musically it also has the glacial touch of Solstafir at play as it mesmerizes both musically and vocally. It has the sort of melody that has you humming along very quickly and despite being on the whole unhurried there’s a spark of dynamics to a quirky mid-section instrumental break, complete with weaving guitar solo.

Moving on to the b side you would expect a track entitled ‘Escher’s Stairs’ to be a dizzying one running off all over the place but this is far from the approach one gets the feel that this band are all about. Tranquil and dreamy it acoustically floats in, delicacy at its heart. It’s got the approach of a ballad with some fuzzy bass definition and harmoniously beseeching vocals that are quite beautiful in essence. Picking up with a post rock sort of feel it coasts along taking you with it for the ride before gently setting you down to plant feet for last number ‘Dead Man.’ This almost enforces the melody heard in the first number, strengthening what you have heard previously here but again in a fashion that caresses the listener far from overpowering them. Slow burning is the best description for this but there is no shortage of strength to it and any muscle flexes just enhance things. There’s a spot to this that reminds a little of Voivod but there’s no feel of rage at all, melancholia is the key atmosphere exuded even when things have built to their most ostentatious.

Crone seemed to come out of nowhere but on the strength of this EP I doubt it’s going to be long before more people discover them and although sG is currently hitting the road with his main project hopefully it won’t be too long before we get a debut album from them.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)