Monday, July 19, 2010

Crowley - The Scream of Death EP (1985)

Crowley were a Japanese band who never really got their act together enough to make an impact on the expanding 80s scene, falling well below the shadows of an Anthem or Loudness. I have discussed in the past how the band's brief full-length Whisper of Evil left little impression upon me. I was very surprised to find that this short EP, The Scream of Death, from just a year earlier, showed an immensely higher level of potential, kicking the ass of just about any song on the album. It leads me to question how or why this band lost such inspiration and fantastic songwriting in such a brief time, because for 10 minutes, The Scream of Death could run the gauntlet with any of the country's bigger metal acts of its day.

There are but three tracks here, including the title intro, which is a creepy guitar piece lasting under a minute in duration, supposedly to set the tone for the ensuing material. This is not really needed, because the second track, "In Despair' is a very uplifting power/speed metal piece with flowing rhythms and an out of control vocal performance from Takashi Iwai. The riffs are huge and catchy, very much reminding me of Anthem, and the bass is excellent throughout, as it wrangles with the beat below the lead spikes. "Midnight Dream" is a slower track, with a rocking street rhythm to it, and more menace to the riffs, often bordering on thrash. Iwai once again gives a lilting, expressive performance that only the Japanese in their syllabic tongue can do, and you are left with a very positive impression of the band's skill.

It is so unfortunate that the following album could not pick up the pace where this left off, because Crowley might have become a bigger band within the Japanese circle. Granted, there is very little meat on this bone, just two tracks worth hearing, but if they had produced a full-length of equivalent quality I would have bought several copies, since I've always had a soft spot for this country and genre. In hindsight, it makes Whisper of Evil seem all the worse by comparison, since much of the band's energy seems to have been leeched out of them after releasing this.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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