Craft Void

[Southern Lord; 2011]

Rating: 1/5

Styles: metal: mostly blackened
Others: Darkthrone, Celtic Frost

Sometimes an album cover suffices: a figure standing in praise, in silhouette, before a mushroom cloud. “The message is of course Total Destruction of Mankind and Matter. We are all firm believers.” [sic] Which reminds us that beyond a black metal that caters to our politic and democratic sensibilities, to our powers of cosmically-joyful thinking, to our manifestos and reports drenched in the fashions of Continental thought, and to our love of the Earth and its inhabitants, there is Craft, harbingers of an original black metal from the void, and they hate you.

Obvious question beg to be asked: Is there any reason, still, to celebrate outbursts of hatred in Northern Europe? Should we take pause when someone screams, with sincerity, “I Want to Commit Murder?” Are these fangless works of sublimation or worse? I may hold, lightly, to the dictum that “the only church that illuminates is a burning church,” but what do my slogans say to remnants? But just yesterday I saw black metal-themed birthday cards at Powell’s. “One year closer to your death,” amid two figures in corpse paint. The Black Metal Chef has over 200,000 thousand hits on YouTube. Void, which briefly found itself in the top of the Swedish charts, already finds itself, culturally, halfway between a prison cell and a Saturday Night Live skit.

But if I get stuck working through black metal’s curious cultural position, might I miss the music itself? Sometimes? Void arrives to us, reissued from Southern Lord. Craft stepped out of six seemingly unproductive years, and Void sold out almost immediately upon its initial release. Less a band than before (the live drum tracks had been scrapped in production and replaced with programmed drumming), though more hybrid in form (blackened, with hints of thrash, punk, etc.), Craft are back and as angry as ever, etc. Unfortunately, what they’ve left behind in the smoke and rubble marks Void throughout.

Absent, entirely, is the tense, raw atmosphere of Terror Propaganda and Fuck the Universe. This isn’t to overemphasize the atmospheric per se, no, but rather to state that for as openly hostile as Void wishes to be, the result is utterly banal. Void is totally devoid of drama. Still drawing from the increasingly shallow wells of Celtic Frost and early Darkthrone, Void sounds dated from the outset. And what could could be countered with aggressive, lyrical hostility is instead subsumed into Craft’s dull conceptual matrix: simultaneously narcissistic and self-abasing, misanthropic and vaguely gnostic. I’m bored by the time the vocalist, Nox, is screaming, “[be] proud to wear your mark of Cain!” I’m disappointed as a I hear aimless guitar solos, lifeless drum patterns, and grim nostalgia. I’ve twice listened into the Void, and both times I couldn’t wait for it to pull back into itself.

“Through billions of years of evolution, from the hands of a tainted lord, we leapt from void to animal to god with extravagant futility.” [sic] Perhaps, and perhaps Void represents a more profound critique of Enlightenment optimism than I give it credit for. Perhaps there is a primordial void into which we all return, and Craft are prophetic voices crying out in the wilderness — and I haven’t the ears to hear. Perhaps their threats ought not go unheeded. Perhaps, perhaps even their hatred deserves legitimization. Unfortunately, for who Craft was, years ago, and for who they are today, all I have etched in my mind now is an existing photograph of Nox giving all of us his middle finger. And sometimes an image suffices to say, at an appropriate level of sophistication with which terms have been forcefully set, all that needs to be said: I hate you, too.

Links: Craft - Southern Lord

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