Krayl - Froide Et Sombre (Demo) (2013)


There are genres and sub genres, and sub sub genres in metal; even the most dedicated scholars would be hard pressed to name and catalog them all. But when it comes to black metal, the casual observer might think that attaching the word "raw" might be redundant. Known for the grating tones and tin can production, to be known as raw in any form might be misconstrued as being poor quality musicians. But Svartblod is anything but, this time putting his stamp on a more traditional raw black metal project, one that runs contrary to the sadness and morose of his other project, The End. And where the latter relies on emotional investment to his home with his listeners, Krayl is about contrast and light/dark dynamics. For every action, there is a reaction. They might not be equal, but they are certainly opposite. And with this latest demo, "Froide Et Sombre," he takes those tenets to their limits, giving the word "raw" a reprieve from the constant belittling it endures.

What you've gotten yourself into is a tale of two sounds; one raw, one hauntingly scary. The intro track, "The River Of Blood" exemplifies that without hesitation. Early on, an unbridled black metal assault is all your ears can break down. Production values are stripped down and chaotic, and there is no sign of layering or subtlety. But the second half, atmospheric as it is, brings a chill. With sound effects and chanting, Svartblod does more than any instrumental could. Finding a way to merge the two would be groundbreaking, but songs like "The Call Of The Night" take a contrary approach, keeping them separate but equal. This isn't to say one is less successful without the other. But the ambient noise of the second half more than props up the traditions of the first. And somehow, with all that contrast "Burning The Righteous" has something that makes it stand out. The dynamic is almost the same, but stronger, as sampled spoken word segments hit so much harder than the vocals in the main verse. In this instance, you come full circle; starting and ending raw and unpolished. The way Svartblod harnesses these elements, especially in a song like the finale, "As We Travel Across The Filthy Lands," is what separates this effort from others. He dials back the aggression at the right times here, allowing a looped phrase to hit home again and again, before bringing the raw distortion back to the fore.

Raw black metal isn't exactly the most easily understood or digested form of metal you'll hear; sometimes you have to look far deeper than you might be willing to. But if you can delve deeper, beyond the distortion and screams, you might find something interesting to come back to. Svartblod hasn't penned an instant classic here, nor has he reinvented himself or the genre. But the black and white dynamic he relies so heavily on in this effort works in mysterious ways. It's not like the quiet moments are heartwarming or sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. But their impact is undeniable, something that was surely the intent. In those down tempo, downtrodden passages, you can find something more than just wildly inconsistent production and musicianship; you can find a vision and an ability to execute on profound levels. And that is enough to propel the demo into a different place in the musical spectrum. Raw black metal isn't as one dimensional as you might have been led to believe. And "Froide Et Sombre" gives you a glimpse at the second level.

7/10

Bandcamp - http://krayl.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/kraylofficial