Craving – Call of the Sirens (Massacre Records)

Friday, 19th May 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Sporadic releases usually occur in the metal realm for a variety of plausible reasons: lineup shifts, business turmoil, general work/life issues, coupled with a global pandemic for the first time in our lifetime. German act Craving released their third album By the Storm in 2016, and in the seven years between records only guitarist/vocalist Ivan Chertov remains from that lineup – acquiring a session bassist plus two new permanent members to record the latest album Call of the Sirens. The infectious mixture of melodic death/black metal against folk nuances provides plenty of dynamic shifts, conjuring an epic extreme platform that speaks to the unity, together as one aspect to this style.

The choir-fueled chorus work during “Gods Don’t Negotiate” brings classic Blind Guardian to mind, although the normal blackened screams/death growls Ivan delivers keep the sonic elements veering to the extreme. The band acknowledges a cultural/folk nuance in key sequences before ramping up the aggressive proceedings – check out the beautiful acoustic to electric riff transitions as the larger than life voicing plus marching rhythm section work sweeps the listener into epic medieval times. The furious picking matches the intense verses for “Mich Packt Die Wut”, while the quieter acoustic plucking that opens “Death March” soon transforms into a melodic death/black tennis match, second guitarist Jonas Papmeier peppering the riffs with forceful tremolo runs as the additional female background vocal support heightens the next quieter instrumental interlude. Session bassist Leonid Rubinstein makes an equal impact with the guitar work – often adding that third syncopation (or lead) element to pump up the progressive intensity to the lengthier title track as well as blackened folk metal cocktail present in “Prayer For the Rain”. While vinyl versions contain just the eight original tracks, CD owners will get two bonus covers of “El Diablo” from the Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou and “Shum” by Urkanian electro-folk band Go_A – always intriguing to hear the extreme reinterpretations, which could garner deeper appreciation for those open-minded to enjoy that type of extra material.

Craving may not necessarily be creating new avenues in their melodic black/death ways, but they certainly get the job done to squeeze out some blistering tracks at high speeds while injecting the right folk/controlled balance for Call of the Sirens.

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