Hardcore/punk is a genre that can take a lot of time to evolve. It's something that moves (or rather evolves) extremely slow and is often more defined by its consistency and influence rather than its innovation. And while the genre has a million batting to its sound, it's the ones that harness it that really stand out amongst the lions in the game.
Crows are a metallic hardcore band that sound a lot like Lights Out! if the riffage were more contained. Oh, I know that sounds like a slam to those that know what I'm talking about but it is anything but. Crows is something that sounds like it has more focus. While Lights Out! churned out some amazing tracks over the course of their short history (Overload is still amazing to this day) Crows push forward with a sound that is utterly restless without sounding like it's trying to be tougher than the toughest kid on the block. And here they are with their first full-length Better Off Dead.
Maybe it's the fact that Crows sound a little more fed up and depraved than their contemporaries, but Better Off Dead is an album that has some serious attitude beyond the general qualms with life. It's the fiery riffage, it's the punchy drums, the groovy bass (seriously, listen to the bass on this album, it's excellent), it's the pissed off screams and shouts—everything that Crows throws itself at they flat out kill.
If you threw together the sounds of Lights Out! (I know, again) with Burning Love you'd have Crows. The aggressive lyrical tendencies mixed with the groovy instrumentation makes for a fantastic record. It's not that Crows are original (far from it), they're just really good at what they do. Instead of becoming some innovative, hyper “I'm trying to be original” act, they walk into Better Off Dead with a “fuck it” mentality. Every track, every section of the album is the band simply doing what they do best: metallic hardcore.
It's been said that this is the mosh album of the year. You know what? It just might be. Better Off Dead boasts ten tracks and starts off with a kick in the pants. A little feedback and then falls straight into a raging beat on “Dead Air (Rosenburg).” It makes you immediately question what the band would be like live. A wave of moshing and stage diving overtake the mind. Especially as the album works into the second track “Suburbia Nervosa.” a straight forward drive that might just breakdown the walls of your room.
What Crows also do well is draw you into their circle. The honest, cynical lyricism and soundclip interludes add to the albums already withering woodwork. Hearing someone fess up and admit to the evil of their ways as a sobering effect to it. And listening to the despise of the general day job (yeah, I'm right there with you, man) is always a welcome shout. Or the tracks like “Enter the Crownado” fester with so much pent up rage and disdain that you can't help but wonder if they're going to finally break.
The breakdowns on Better Off Dead are something of a wonder. I've read a few reviews that focus a lot on the breakdowns. Yes, they're there but Crows isn't 100 Demons or Full Blown Chaos. They're not a “drone on the lowest tuning possible” band. Their breakdowns are sometimes quick, sometimes drawn out. They're more punk than your typical hardcore or beatdown band. It's when you reach the final track “Death Crownado”, the nine-minute track, that you finally see what Crows capable of. The band slows down, speeds up, and thrashes as much as possible before going out on an excellent note.
Crows offer nothing you haven't already heard before from the metallic hardcore/punk. They're chock full of breakdowns, pulverizing lyrics, and overall great presentation. Like Iron Reagan's The Tyranny of Will (which I absolutely loved), they're a band that just does everything right. If you enjoy a good piece of genre mayhem then Crows Better Off Dead is something you need to check out. One of the best contemporary hardcore/punk bands the genre has to offer. This is an absolute rager.
Full streaming of this album is available via CVLT Nation.
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