There are few things I find more satisfying than receiving a download that isn’t encrypted directly from a band that’s just beginning to get their feet wet in the murky sea of black metal. Except for maybe when the album is quite listenable. The Crimson Brigade have the kind of sound that one automatically thinks of when someone mentions black metal. Their debut, “Blood Battalion” is remiscent of early Dimmu Borgir, before they got all soft and weird like a drunken weiner, with the release of “Death Cult Armageddon”. Maim me with your words for that statement if you please but you must admit that many of the tracks on “Death Cult Armageddon” sound like they were stolen directly from the soundtrack of a Disney movie. I’m not talking about Dimmu though.
Luutnakki, Marshel, and BlutKommendant teamed up to form The Crimson Brigade in 2013. Their debut “Blood Battalion” was released in the UK in November of 2014. There is a succinct, symphonic, and bombastic air to “Blood Battalion, reminiscent of the extreme metal that was blustering from the UK in the 1990’s. “Dusk and Her Embrace” era Cradle of Filth instantly comes to mind because of this band’s heavy use of keyboards. Even though BlutKommandment’s keyboard playing adds an eerie, horror film-like ambiance to Crimson Brigade’s unique sound, it can get a bit excessive at times. Tracks like “Battle for Crucifix Hill” and “Iron Clad Beasts of Kursk” lack aggression because of the band’s heavy use of the keyboard.
The Crimson Brigade also has a tendency to rely on drum machines and digital effects which creates a mechanized, industrial feel. Although I never quite grasped black metal’s tendency to digitalize their sound, this sort of experimentation is quite common within the genre. The Crimson Brigade manages to inject enough groove and aggression into their sound to remain appealing to a more jaded black metal elitist. In fact, the entire LP, which is quite lengthy, has an underlying, yet obvious groove permeating throughout. Although the slow dirge driving the sound and feel of the album is hypnotic at times, I would recommend that for future recordings The Crimson Brigade work on refining their sound in the same way they’ve refined their look. The occasional rock and roll riffs sound awkward at times, whereas tracks like “Dark Angels of Mons” deliver the aggression craved by fans of extreme metal. Given a few years of practice, this band’s tendency toward experimentalism combined with their stellar attention to quality production could make them the next Meads of Asphodel.
Overall, The Crimson Brigade are a quite listenable band for dabblers in the black metal genre. Fans of ambiance, and grooving riffs will be pleased with this bands debut. With their theatrical look and palatable sound, I project we will be hearing more of this band in the future. For now though, revel in the fiery groove of unsigned hellions, The Crimson Brigade. Happy listening! Hails!