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Cross Vault : Spectres Of Revocable Loss


If their only shortcoming is to be not quite as good as Warning, then Cross Vault should feel pretty pleased with this remarkable debut.



At times during this magnificent album, German two-piece Cross Vault create classic, atmospheric doom metal that comes close to perfection. Rich, dreamy Candlemass-like guitar tones rise and fall in a slow, delicate harmony, while there is more a feel of lesser-rated Swedes Averon in the rougher edges and ancient-sounding, but very engaging, production. Perhaps too a shade of Switzerland’s Pylon in the songs’ arrangements and, especially, in the clean, echoing vocals that seem to emanate from some deep, unlit crypt.

Primarily, though, Cross Vault are reminiscent of UK legends Warning. Slow and simple may sound easy, but it is difficult to effectively merge these characteristics with beautiful – but Cross Vault manage it almost to the same degree that Pat Walker achieved. The deeper, echoing vocals highlight the fact that the German band are slightly more epic and detached compared to Walker’s ferociously, claustrophobically personal atmosphere, but essentially the ambitions of the two seem similar.

On the track ‘Home’ Cross Vault sound particularly akin to their heroes. For the first few minutes, the repetitive disharmony is quite off-putting, but when the vocals kick in, the song is heavenly. The singer shares with Walker an ability to create beautiful melodies without resorting to catchiness, which would be incongruous with the dense, heavy music. And thankfully the occasions upon which he deploys a coarser style are rare – namely on ‘Rails Departing’ and the closing ‘Footprints’. His voice may not always be pristine, but it wraps itself around the guitars as if clinging on for dear life.

Back to those near-perfection moments: there’s the beginning of ‘A Query In Chains’ – a stunning, epic opening that leads into yet another lovely vocal melody and a delicately controlled and understated song. You spend the rest of the track waiting for the opening strains to return, but they do not. Shame. Elsewhere, the first few moments of ‘At Our Bleakest’ will give you goose-bumps, like the first time you heard Paradise Lost’s ‘Rotting Misery’. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’’s dystopian classic ‘1984’, as was the artwork by US artist Lucas Ruggieri. This song drips with sorrow – it is beautiful, but as with some of the others on this, the band’s debut full-length release, seems a little safe. Each track is in itself a broad river of atmospheric doom, but they rarely go to unexpected places or develop into full-blooded classics.

Whereas Warning were lean and never wasted a single moment – or even a single pause – Cross Vault sometimes seem slightly lost or uncertain. You can identify this subtle difference on the final song, a cover of Warning’s ‘Footprints’. Whenever a band covers a song by one of the genre’s greats, they are taking a risk. As with While Heaven Wept's version of ‘Epistle No.81’, Cross Vault have done a great job on ‘Footprints’, but at this precipitous level, falling short of perfection makes a big difference in highlighting your own shortcomings. These talented Germans need not worry too much though - after all, if their only shortcoming is that they’re not yet quite as good as Warning, then they can feel pretty pleased with this remarkable debut.


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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Void Of Old, Void To Come
2. A Query In Chains
3. Home
4. Rails Departing
5. At Our Bleakest
6. Footprints

Duration : Approx. 44 minutes

Visit the Cross Vault bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-05-30 by Steve Bidmead
Radioactive
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