In the ’80s — late ’80s even — it seemed unfathomable that death metal, doom, and gothic rock would all eventually morph into one intangible mass, but at the onset of the ’90s, along come trailblazers like My Dying Bride, Tiamat, Amorphis, and Therion to turn metal on its head, actually making the pock-marked, critically bemoaned genre more intelligent in the process. As the early ’90s predictably became the mid ’90s (duh), lost somewhere in the shuffle was Germany’s Crematory — huge in its homeland, but virtually unknown elsewhere; such is the infinitely vast desert of heavy metal.
However, with its latest, Act Seven , Crematory has fully pulled itself from the enshrouded morass and points the way for new millenium metal. Simple, crunching riffs buoying the spectral keyboard melodies, the album rocks dynamically hard in an economical way: no flash, no excess, just so-gloom-‘n’-doomy-it’s-stirring-and-uplifting songwriting replete with stadium woofer-blowing choruses and chest-pounding tempos that the latter-day Sisters of Mercy would be jealous of. Vocalist Felix possesses a fairly standard (but no less understandable) set of death metal lungs, but when it comes time to deliver a killer hook, his clean vox kick in and soar to the heavens, tight harmonies firing away, making said hook that much more delicious; no matter how often he bellows about pain, sadness, and whatnot; if it’s delivered this way, then let the bad times roll, I say. Guitarist Matthias’ leads rule righteously, vying Katrin’s stark keyboard lines for top prong on Crematory’s crown.
That said, Act Seven will serve as the blueprint for neo-gothic-metal for years to come — Crematory can now count itself among the genre’s top contenders.
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com