Crvel – ‘Sombras’

Artist: Crvel

Title: Sombras

Label: New Direction Records

Year: 2016

Review by Tërrørgåsm

CRVEL from the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico deliver an extremely heavy and oppressively, almost claustrophobia-inducingly dark post-punk infused death rock that will sound familiar to fans of genre standards like Christian Death, Bauhaus, and Joy Division as well as lesser-known artists such as The Chameleons, Sex Gang Children, and Pink Turns Blue (All favourites of this reviewer). The deep, exorbitant melancholy summoned by the musicians and through the morosely wailed vocals here is equally matched by the charging energy in the faster sections, with the viscerally thick bass throbbing over the sharp drums, occasionally bordering on upbeat tempos, reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees, or the Misfits, at their more punk-fueled moments.
There are quite a lot of shifting moods channeled throughout the 26 minutes which this record spans, all tending toward the darker shades of the emotional palette, such as despair, anger, grief, dread, misery, and abject woe, centered around a tenuous grasp on one’s sanity in an utterly isolated world. Some of the rougher sounds and the metallic tinge on the vocals (which offer the occasional “OUGH!!”) are indicative of the members’ involvement in projects such as DSBM group Kolldbaakhel, the sludge-doom outfit Malinche, and Raw Death, which as the name implies, is some nasty primitive death metal. These influences are just shadows around the dreary black sun of Sombras (“Shades” in English), but they no doubt lend their filthy claws to the core power of this album.

“Telarañas” (“Spiderwebs”) spawns forth from an ominous bass rumble into a plodding burst of gothic rock featuring eerily screeching guitar effects and a hoarsely shouted chorus with backing vocals echoing gruffly in a sort of call-and-response fashion reminiscent of classic thrash metal, though this music is thoroughly evocative of desolate alleyways on foggy nights, streetlights casting dim luminescence over lost souls shrouded in black as they shuffle to some tall, iron-wrought bridge over a deep river, lost in their painful thoughts. The lyrics here are all in Spanish, and well written, odes to misanthropy, loneliness, and longing for the unknown which is often mistaken as “love”; that which can never be truly attained. The guitars at the beginning have that ominous heavy pull like on Danzig’s “Pain In The World” from the II/Lucifuge album, and there’s a crunchiness in the tone which adds a toughness around the song.
The bass guitar plays a huge role in making this album so captivating and sinister; the production is perfect for the essentially grainy, dark and grimy style these guys purvey, and it carries the atmosphere throughout very competently. “Galaxias” is a brilliant highlight of rhythm-driven dismal fury, with the pummeling bass and lead guitars riding along under the manically depressive vocals, clamoring for the tantalizing essence of pure life sensed in a mysterious stranger. “Fabula” (“Fable”) is another stand-out, with the guitars climbing out from a poppy/dirgey rut redolent of a B-side from The Cure to shine with some rollicking rocking toward the end. All these ten tracks fall below three minutes in length, not wearing out their welcome, but making a poignant statement quite succinctly.

As a fan of French, faerie-obsessed freaks Nuit Noire’s wistfully gloomy, punky, goth/black metal crossover sound, I am really hyped on CRVEL, and looking forward to seeing if they’ll perhaps bring some more of their own respective black metal elements into the mix on future releases (as are most noticeably suggested in the brackish, bitter blasting of “Visión Nocturna” and “Peste y Dolor”, where the guitars are tuned to kill and the vocals seem to take on a more threatening, aggressive tone.)
If you are an adventurous listener looking for something different to refresh your palate between more strictly death/black metal albums, I’d recommend this, especially if you’re fond (as I am) of early ‘80s gothic rock groups like those mentioned earlier. The band’s discography is available for listening & purchase on