Skepticism - Stormcrowfleet ©1995 Red Stream
1. Sign Of A Storm
2. Pouring
3. By Silent Wings
4. The Rising Of The Flames
5. The Gallant Crow
6. The Everdarkgreen

Simplicity is the most difficult tool that can be used in music; most much rather have a cacophony that drowns out lack of direction and bury incompetence under hills of slurred notes [Mayhem anyone?--Editor]. What sort of a band resigns itself to the use of the heaviest, detuned power-chords/bass and an eerie organ to their fullest - at the most painfully languid pace - yet with a lapidary minimalism to engage, move and terrify even the most indurate of listeners?

It is one big mass of barely-coherent distant muddle, just within the capacity of human hearing. The guitar-bass recording/mix is really very deep and the organ sounds a little uncertain of its volume at times. It is not going to be easy to enjoy even for the extremest metal worshipper. Oh, but where they take you from there...

"Sign of a Storm" holds the tension of times before a storm: a moderate gale, expectant green swish and crazed human grins directed at the ominous massivity of rain-bearing clouds. The ground smells storm and life revels in the exhilaration of a deluge, well aware that it will be accompanied by thunder and lightning. It is a barely-contained explosion preceeded by a scheming calm, all captured beautifully by Skepticism. "Pouring" might be described as moments sampled of the rain itself: a slightly faster pace and not as fragmented or amorphous as the earlier track. The rest of the tracks are all equally good, not one seems redundant or excessive in spite of the detached and sparse nature of the music. "The Everdarkgreen" is a great finish. The organ here is really pronounced in its tone and able to create some fabulous soundscapes. My only problem is with the vocals: why not the female vocals in the vein of Anathema's "Everwake" or say My Dying Bride's "Black God"? The growls are too ugly, too "easy" to listen to. Beautiful female vocals could have provided a stark contrast to the bottom-heavy drowse.

Depressing music? Perhaps, yes. Death metal? Not precisely. Classical music? Maybe, even. Paradoxical, anyway, eminently wise yet of a childlike na´vetÚ, surely for at least the nominally insane. Of course, insanity is often a significant architect in the erection of and a great motivator in the diligent study of Genius. Every time you must study the nuances of its spires and ancient bricks - perhaps pay attention to that note of the faint organ you missed the last time or absorb the silence more respectfully - the silence being something you surely scorned on the first listen, silence which is as much a brick as a note itself. Gigantic, decrepit stone structures, grand as the centuries they have seen: Stormcrowfleet is not music you can easily place - in terms of the compositional nature - in a genre or even in a particular era of musical evolution. It is just a warped atmosphere, a weather-beaten landscape seasoned by centuries. It has a sonic aura of "green": evergreen thicket poetically entwined with pillars and a refreshing, dense mist. Scoure these cavernous ruins and you'll surely find great treasures: facets of the purity of expression seldom found in music these days.

Listen at the nadir of your lifetime, and next morning you'll find that your wrists bear strange scars and your blurry parents have concerned looks...or you will have touched the void, already.

"Up there The Light of no Sun
Dim is the glow
Up there are the Stars
Far, far below
Up there Skies painted
With Glances; The Touch
Up there He is
Proudly Alone"
- The Gallant Crow

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 04/1999

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