Even though the band is Swedish and plays death metal, which should be something I’d have my eye on, I’d never heard of Crawl before Transcending Obscurity Records announced them on their label. What makes it a bit weird is the fact that Crawl got members that’s been in Decomposed and Demonical, two bands I’ve followed and reviewed in the past. To be fair though they only had a demo and an EP under their belt before as the band was created in 2014. Rituals also being the bands debut full-length, so hey I have at least that to lean back on for my lack of knowledge on this band. Obviously I had to dig through their old material to get an idea what the band is all about. I: Serpents the demo was full of crushing Swe-death worship where Entombed and Dismember (as they do with many) had a lot of influences on them but at the same time they had some crust and punk elements at times. The three track demo was actually really good where the song “Casket Ride” hit me extra hard, making me wonder how I missed these death metallers before. Their EP Worship Death went even further with that sound, making the crust, punk and hardcore elements even more known so with that in mind I was now keen to hear what Rituals had in store for me.
It doesn’t take many seconds to know that Crawl has upped their game even more on Rituals. The mixing is better, really dirty but does a good job highlighting the right elements at the right time. It’s a pure adrenaline rush from the get go with only one song going above three minutes mark, honing their sound from the previous album even more towards the death-fused punk area. It’s a really good mix at that which keeps Rituals fresh and not a mere copycat from the 90’s sound. To me this is a great match made in the sewers of Sweden, filled with filthy death stench and adding more agression from the crust/punk/hardcore scene. Simply dirty and most fitting for the underground. I mean what do you need from a good death metal album? Energy? Heck yeah Rituals got that in plenty. Crushing riffs? Check on that too! Nasty lyrics? Well just take the two first tracks “Reject the Cross” and “Breathing Violence” as an example to that. Will it make you want to mosh? The pure energy and agression from the album will make this a killer live I am sure of.
While I usually would complain that 25 minutes is running quite a bit short in a full-length album I find it just about the right length for Crawl’s most crushing debut. Any more and it might have been too much of this rotten hard hitting, in your face death metal. One can only take so much in before being overwhelmed. In conclusion this is one of the best death metal albums of the year. It’s taking some of the best parts of Entombed and Dismember while putting their own touches to it, making Rituals an album that will last for a long time. They’ve evolved a lot from their 2015 demo and I am pleased to hear Swe-death can still evolve into new breeds. All nine tracks are putrid, heavy, about to knock you out metal with highlights like “Sentenced to Rot” and “Reject the Cross”. If you’re looking for Swe-death worship with that added extra brutality which will get you up on Monday mornings or get you pumped up for the weekend slaughters then Rituals is a must get for you. You’ve been sentenced to rot!
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
For fans of: Dismember and Entombed
Release date: August 20th, 2018
Favorite song: Sentenced to Rot