Stormcrow - _Enslaved in Darkness_
(Selfmadegod Records, 2005)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Each passing year the history of heavy music trails ever longer behind us, and the untraveled paths ahead seem to dwindle in number and promise. Where once the ultimate reaches of speed (or sloth), melodic inclusion (or rejection), and technique (or lack) held new levels of excitement, now much of that luster has dulled. Catching our attention means progging up the arrangements (here's lookin' at you, Meshuggah), radical left-field instrumental approaches (hello, Botanist!), or cloaking band members in a secrecy so thick that they're not even sure which group they're recording for (too damn many to name). In a jaded modern world of 'Net-shrooming heard-it-before-you've-played-it breakneck blast 'n' buzz extreme music, shocking a pair of experienced ears can be as hard as traversing a major city without being Occupied.

Somehow, none of it means anything to Oakland, CA's Stormcrow, whose 2005 full-length _Enslaved in Darkness_ forges heat-seeking riffs, a monstrous sound, and the songwriting chops of a molten-metal-for-blood Megalodon shark into a fully engaging 28 minutes of terrifying death. Blazing beats, gore-battered riffs both furious and evil-slow, and cave-dwelling bass beasts turn the band's pursuit of darkness into a flickering psycho ward whose shadows are pregnant with the horrors creeping up from a sub-basement no one knew was there. Song titles like "Anguished Existence" and "Baleful Conception" adequately convey the intended levels of soul agony in store, but who knew that tracks labeled "New Messiah" or "Willing to Forgive" could slay just as savagely? Through five tracks and as many levels of hell, Stormcrow argue that death metal don't need no stinkin' schools, just gallons of passion and the good sense to write riffs that connect to every part of your body simultaneously.

Since Metal-archives seems unsure as to the activity status of the band, we can simply state that, at this moment, _Enslaved in Darkness_ is the band's single stand-alone recording, followed in later years by several mid-profile splits. If Stormcrow rises to kill again, though, we should all be lined up and eager to stand in front of that blood-black blade.


(article published 2/4/2012)

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