Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Crusade ~ EP

The Sperm Whale has long been woven into epic tales of adventure and dread. Killer of Ahab. Devourer of 30 foot squid. Because so little is still known about them, these creatures live more as monsters than icons of science. There is no doubt the three New Jersey-ites who comprise Crusade went big in choosing a suitable emblem for their first entry into the post metal universe. It is their energetic compositions and oceanic tone that help them make a mark.

Guitarist Keven Garetz created the EP’s striking cover, and it tells of the fascination humans have with beings we cannot see. At first glance, a massive creature appearing dead and vomiting the contents of its stomach seems a bit odd, but when you know that sperm whale vomit transforms into one of the most valuable natural commodities in human history, ambergris, one wonders what kind of magical contents this album might hold.

The four tracks are all between three and five minutes, with the overall tempo being more of a jaunt than a plod. EP comes across like Isis going punk rock, with the guitar swimming in reverb most of the time and the drums and bass being full of energy. Post-rock does not have to have big highs and big lows; sometimes it can be high all the time, and for Crusade the EP format suits this approach. Everything is big and ready to roll. “A Picture In The Wall” is a head-crunching tale with a lot of tempo changes and a brief respite with acoustic guitar. For a few chords the deluge subsides with a pleasant rolling of the snare before we plunge back into the squall. Opener “Turkish Ambassador” and closer “Pythagorus” even share a thematic guitar motif, a technique we at A Closer Listen really enjoy. Is Pythagorus sailing in disguise on a mission of espionage in Turkey, only to sail home a hero? The track titles push the narrative.

Crusade approach the music more playfully on “Amethyst,” sounding more like Beware of Safety with spritely bass cues, high hat and more acoustic strumming. But it isn’t long before the crash of the distortion returns. There is a lot of sound with just three people, and the compositional twists and turns are myriad, making for an engaging listen. The warbly reverb guitar tone is present throughout, and while it defines the sound, it tends to blur the songs into one lump of ambergris. It will be exciting to see if the band switches things up even more the next time around on their full length debut, expected this summer.

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