DeathCrawl: Endurance Test from the Middle West

Should've called themselves Deadbird. Oh wait.One of the objects of the sludge aesthetic has always been to push the limits of what?s listenable and challenge the audience to keep up with a given band?s gross audio manipulations. Born of crusty hardcore and stoner metal, it is among the ugliest forms of music out there today, and purposefully so. Cleveland, Ohio trio DeathCrawl show a keen knowledge of and respect for sludge?s mission on their self-released debut, The End is Not Near Enough. Not only is it heavy as balls, but the damn thing?s a marathon.

Weighing in at a more than considerable 74 minutes, moments of The End is Not Near Enough lived up to the title. Guitarist Damon Gregg, bassist Jason Luchka and drummer Dave Johnson, all three of whom also handle raw-throated screaming vocals, offer a sound for which their band is perfectly named, pushing agonizingly slowly through the material while speeding up on occasion only to produce a face-melting contrast. And again, they do so for 74 minutes.

Some of The End is Not Near Enough?s strongest sections are when Gregg, Luchka and Johnson mellow out in an intro or interlude. The opening of ?Valley of the Kings? or the bass-led first two minutes of the instrumental ?A Moment of Fear? have a creepy ambience to them that makes the heavy that inevitably follows all the more crushing. The only issue is that, among all this musical swampery, this is easily glossed over without a second thought.

Hi guys. (Photo by Gary Kane)It makes sense that an independent band would want to get the most out of their recording. Maybe DeathCrawl were really excited about these songs or didn?t know when they?d be able to be back in the studio, but even if that?s the case, why not break this up into two albums? According to the band, they had over two hours? worth of material, and if so, all the better. There?d still be plenty to work with. Even if they trimmed off some of these tracks and made two 45-minute albums, or two 50-minute albums, I don?t think anyone would complain about them being too short. The way it stands now, the whole experience is too overwhelming to appreciate individual tracks, and on that level, something is really lost, because even the most cursory listen will show hints of the quality in the songs.

I?m not going to rag on an unsigned band who put out their own stuff, and sound-wise, The End is Not Near Enough is as ferocious as it is viscous, but I will say that when and if you sit down to take it on, do so in more than one sitting. There may only be 11 tracks, but the record?s length might get the best of you if you try and go for broke all at once. Then again, maybe that?s what DeathCrawl wanted when they pieced the album together. In any case, they work on multiple levels of heaviness and are a solid touchstone for any sludger out there looking to prove their mettle.

DeathCrawl on MySpace

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