First album of the Teutonic but CRANIAL isn’t in its first strike as this is the logical sequel of OMEGA MASSIF. Always being devoted to a Sludge vibe reminding PELICAN, the quartet reveals a Post-Metal tag fortunately suffix-axed. With Dark Towers, Bright Lights we could expect something paced with massive riffs into perspective.
That being said, Post and Sludge scenes are often repetitive about the craved sound. CRANIAL doesn’t get out of the foreboding. Melodies are generic but sufficiently built to stand out by alternating oppressive slowness and sparing spasmodic rhythms. These are more gripping and tend to proliferate like a good fever as song goes by. So the musical structure grows toward a crescendo for the four titles that offers Dark Towers, Bright Lights. Dark indeed acts like an introduction with a quite slow pace in order to brace ourselves to face Towers. Short break on Bright before the real booster shot and, as it’s not enough yet, the ultimate Lights finishes us. CRANIAL then releases all your energy that has been sucked and accumulated into the last minutes of an explosive, nervous, liberating finale.
Ten plus minutes long is enough to establish and mold an atmosphere. We are feeling crushed, energy-drained by this heaviness which is meddling into our veins like a body bogging down. Voice acts here like an instrument as this one is neither lyrical nor sung. The rare vocal lines are part of the music, reinforcing it into depleting torments.
The only regret that could have brought a truly deepness is the bass playing standing too much back. It could have provided even more as can be eared in Towers in which the bass step up the general ambience. This is purely subjective but the first part of the second track is what is most efficient. This stage is first distinguished by a bass solo then followed by distorted guitars; and it’s bringing an audacious singularity with a reverted string instruments game: guitars are the rhythmic and bass leads to melody.
CRANIAL is surely the band that should reconcile listeners with Post-Metal scene if they bother giving a shot. Dark Towers, Bright Lights differentiates with solid technical process of skilled elements and managed vibe beside many others.