Review: Craving – Call Of The Sirens

Craving - Call Of The Sirens album art

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(This review was written by Bob Genghis Khan)

If Forrest Gump were a metal head, he’d probably compare black metal to a box of chocolates. It’s a genre that spans the gamut between the worst, lo-fi productions in music, all the way to the highest levels of musicianship that exist in metal today. I try not to be too snobby about it. Some of my favorite black metal albums sound like they were recorded by placing the microphones in a dumpster out behind the recording studio. But if we’re being honest, I don’t enjoy that experience as much as when I can actually hear the music. I’m also incredibly impatient. There’s a lot of great bands that I’ve never listened to simply because they decided to put a 5 minute noise track between every song. Sorry, that’s just not my cup of tea either. Look, I respect the stagecraft, atmosphere, and raw production, but only when the band earns it. If you want me to pay attention, at a base level you’ve gotta rip. And if you don’t rip, all the facepaint in the world can’t save you.

So where does that leave us? Well to put it simply, Craving absolutely rips. What’s more, they don’t even bother with the face paint. The production is crisp and modern. Their sound is incredibly refined. The first track, Mich Packt Die Wut, kicks off with some beautiful acoustic guitar, then goes high speed into the first riff before 20 seconds has elapsed. It doesn’t feel forced. The transition is seamless. It builds the proper amount of atmosphere then uses it before losing any momentum. Speaking of momentum, hats off to the drummer. Dude rarely takes a break. It’s a double bass frenzy for sure, but it never crosses the line of ‘overplaying’. In fact, when he does actually slow down (if you can call it that) it’s in service of an absolutely fantastic guitar solo.
Next up is the title track of the album. I had a good time with this one as well. Accompanied by a music video, this song encapsulates what the band does best. Every instrument seems like it’s in service of the others. The level of playing is incredibly high, but at no point does it ever feel too showy. There are layers of sound that all slowly build on one another into massive crescendos. Sure it’s melodic, but it’s simultaneously heavy. Some moments even remind me of Dimmu Borgir or Fleshgod Apocalypse. I’m not talking huge symphonies (though there is a good bit of piano and synth), but sections with nice, clean vocal melodies that blend perfectly into the mix. Did I mention the drummer is playing on top of a castle tower the whole time? Bonus points for that. I’m going to pretend it’s just the regular practice space for the band as a whole.

As the album goes on, the power metal influences really start to come out. Big group shouts, choruses, and riffs that make you want to ride a horse into battle. Even if you’ve never had any equestrian leanings, it’s hard not to envision a medieval backdrop and mythical beasts while listening to this record. Tracks like “Blood Ov Franconia” and “Gods Don’t Negotiate” really drive the point home. I’d be hard pressed to actually levy any criticism here. The weakest part of the album for me were the final two songs, but they are black metal renditions of pop songs. I’m sure the band was just trying to have some fun with it, but thematically it felt a little disjointed. Other than that, it seems like the band achieved exactly what they set out to do. In that way, I’d argue “Call of the Sirens” is an instant classic. It integrates multiple genres, but never ceases to feel natural in its progression.

Do yourself a favor and pick up Craving’s “Call of the Sirens when it drops May 19th, 2023 via Massacre Records. It’s a great album that warrants plenty of repeat listens.
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