‘Creative music’ might seem like such a simple thing to define. Music that defies genre boundaries and listener expectations and the constructed norm of what pop/rock/blues/etc. should sound like. But digging a little deeper shows that it’s not at all simple. Or we’d have to call The Foo Fighters, Jack White and other modern hard rock outfits not creative, or at least not creative enough.
This is the mindset you need to have while approaching this release. Crave is a Norwegian band hailing from Melhus. Playing the most pure-blooded 80s hair metal you can have in 2022. Full with heavy guitar riffage, double kick drum goodness and all the belted high notes you could ask for. But… How creative can that be? Let’s find out.
With 12 songs and clocking at 53 minutes long, this is a long album, and such albums can easily get demanding to sit through if not executed properly. Well, make no mistake, this is a properly executed album. “Oblivion” is a very punchy starter to this album. Tight, solid riffs and steady beats along with one of the best vocal performances on the entire record make for a truly engaging rock song for the modern times. “Baby” too is a fun little piece with menacing riffs and crash-heavy beats. Song 3 “The Spirit of Maze” is a fantastic change of pace with clean, chorused guitars and soft beat. It’s a ballad with an alien feel courtesy of a very intelligent guitar tone that features colorful reverb.
“Fallen Angels” features one of the best riffs on the whole project as an intro, as well as some impressive drum chops from Kjetil Krangsås. “Hole in The Wall” has a very pronounced overdriven bass tone that’s missed on many songs here. “Chain Reaction” starts with cliched riffs and tones then totally shifts dimensions in one of the more pleasant twists on the entire album with gigantic reverb and a lengthy solo. “In The Shadow Of The Moon”, my favorite, is a slow and steady ballad that features a hypnotic second half with a Leslie effect on the keyboards that lends to the song a very vintage feel to go with the lengthy and heartfelt guitar solo.
“Watchdog” is a manic piece with fast paced metal riffage and stone-hard beats. Song 9, “Through the Fire” is one of the more vintage tinged songs here with slow and simple beats, Rotary effects and Wahwahs. Approaching the album’s end you start to notice very clearly its one achilles’ heel. While he possesses a vast range and an amazing belting ability, Jan Arild Rostad is, at points, inconsistent. The wide vibrato misses its mark here and there, being wider than appropriate. And the obvious soul and panache put into every sentence he sings causes him to move more than necessary, allowing inconsistency in the distance from the microphone, which is often distracting and detracting from the quality of the delivery.
All in all. A rock solid debut offering from a band with a ton of passion for what they do. Minus a few flat mixes with low bass, and a few off-spots with vocals, the band manages to provide 12 songs full of character. Creative too, for a group that labels their music 80s rock, this sounds as fresh and as exciting as anything. Proving that you don’t need to defy genre realities to show creativity, is where this album definitely succeeds.