By L.M. Alder
If you were to only listen to the first two tracks of Crawl's new EP The Crockford Files, you might think that the whole EP is filled with straightforward, tight, well-rendered metal songs, and you would mostly be correct.
They are all tight and well rendered, but they're not all as straightforward as one might expect: Tracks three, four, and five, “Heavy Rain,” “Smother Mary,” and “Bangladesh,” respectively, each show a different side of Crawl.
In “Heavy Rain,” things start off almost bluesy before ultimately getting pretty damn heavy and aggressive, but throughout the vocals retain a soulful style. “Smother Mary” is the softest song on the album, a bit reminiscent of Alice in Chains' Unplugged album.
“Bangladesh” takes a sharp turn east—far east, that is. The song features a riff that sounds, well, Bangladeshi, with a tone similar to that of the lead guitar in the chorus of Butthole Surfers' “Pepper.” Crawl's riff will invade your ears, pitch a tent, and decide to stick around for hours. Maybe even days. But you won't mind much, because it's a damn enjoyable riff, and it's a unique element to inject into Crawl's self-described style of “melodic metal.”
Fortunately, their self-description is apt: The EP is most certainly melodic in a Soundgarden sort of way—and, like Chris Cornell, vocalist Michael David Wolf's vocal range is impressive.
Crawl, a band based in Toronto, has been around since 1992. They've played hundreds of shows, including some with bands like Helmet and Our Lady Peace. They toured Canada extensively. They're not new to this, and you can still hear a lot of 90s metal and grunge in their style, but, with The Crockford Files, and especially in “Bangladesh,” Crawl is starting to show the world what they sound like when they explore new territory.
It's a direction that suits them well.
L.M. Alder is a writer, librarian and musician. His stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in Asimov's, Ghost Town, decomP, Corium, the EEEL, and other places. He is the co-author of A Cathedral in a Mason Jar: The Untold Story of Elvis Presley (tNY.Press, 2016). You can check out his band at TheDeafeningColors.com.