I first heard Craving from Germany earlier this year on Sex to 9 with Maria on TotalRock and promptly got At Dawn their 2013 album. Craving mix up Power metal, Folk Metal and Melodic Death/ Black Metal to create a mutated metal hybrid that sounds like Wacken in a Moulinex. If that sounds contrived or too much to handle fear not young dungeoneer take my hand and I will take you through the darkness with a D12 in one hand and a Warmaster catalogue in the other.
Opener – the instrumental “Fulgur Immortale” is so Game of Thrones I am waiting for Dragons, boobs and cock slicing nutters to leap from my speakers. They don’t, which is a shame but “By Storm” does. The title track is a high octane power death romp that reminds me of a mix of early Children of Bodom and Versus the World era Amon Amarth. “ Cave of a Dream” that follows adds some folk metal swig a long sections in with Black metal shrieks. It could sound like a cut and paste mess but Cravings influences fit well together and the mix is pretty good. “Penelope’s Prayer” starts with a piano refrain that evokes Chris Isaak Wicked Game. Whaaaaaaaat!???? It soon disappears leaving behind it a raging symphonic death thrasher, but the whiff of Wicked Game remains and it all comes across a little contrived. Like Nightwish with blokes. “Wielder of Storms” the single released off the album is a similar epic melodic track, but with a little more oomph, but there is a little too much pomp for me. Like Crematory who tread a similar tightrope the cheese is spread too thickly on the cracker at times.
“Wenn der Wind sich Dreht” which precedes it is more of a face-melter with a heady raging guitar and thunderous attack. The mix of Black Metal blasts and Akercocke bellows with German sing-along choruses produces a wonderful hybrid. There is a chance for both orange squeezers and air guitar heroes to show off their wares here. Devilishly delightful.
There are three epic tracks on the album all tipping the scales at 8 mins plus. “Seven Steps to Darkness” is a little rudderless. There is a brutal symphonic blackened death metal track within it but the mix sounds muddy and the constant change of pace and drops into acoustic passages leave me confused and cold. “Eyes of Winter” brings some Power to the party with more than a hint of Blind Guardian. The guitar sound is much brighter and lighter of spirit with more of the folk heard elsewhere. “The Fountain of Memory” blasts out for the first 30 seconds before dropping into a clean sung lament before lurching back into some blasts beneath a (insert name of Tolkien beastie) style guitar solo. It is hard to get into the groove with these guys as they don’t seem to be in it themselves. “By the Storm” is like a jigsaw of a metal magazine or Ave Noctum itself where the pieces have been forced to fit by a child with blunt scissors. Sounds on some tracks appear layered over the top of each other to such an extent that I have to check whether or not I have started another player somewhere. Where it does work as on “Wenn der Wind….” They have a winning formula. Finishing the album with a thrash through the Game of Thrones theme is fun but pointless. Thor knows where they got the lyrics from. Maybe like John Snow I know nothing but I can’t help feeling short-changed by this smorgasbord.
(5/10 Matt Mason)