Crest of Darkness – Evil Messiah

First glancing at this cover, you'll probably giggle.  It sends out black metal signals like the lone captain of a sinking dinghy shooting up flares.  "Look at me, help me, I am here!" he screams into the black night, surrounded by nothing but a sea so vast the chances of anyone seeing his desperation is something like the fossilized remains of an extinct animal protesting for the preservation of its species.  If you find that analogy meaningless, trust us in saying that for once there's definitely something to it.  Surviving today is essentially a non-reality for most metal bands.  Think you're going to make a living off of it?  Probably better for you to rely on something more lucrative, like dead pet taxidermy.  "Making it" in metal is largely impossible, and that's okay, it's supposed to be about the music anyway, isn't it?  Then imagine a band so dedicated it's the underground of the underground, and it's been that way for twenty-something years.  Imagine further that said band has remained relatively unknown in underground black metal in a country known for underground black metal.  Don't believe?  Well, such things do exist, and this one is called Crest of Darkness.

  

Seriously, how is it possible to go this unnoticed in a country where being unnoticed was kind of the thing that led to modern black metal?  Is it at all possible to be part of that scene and aesthetic and somehow not manage to make something out of it?  Well, Crest of Darkness have been doing their thing now since roughly 1993, right when Norwegian black metal became the center of attention for the world that had yet to know about it.  Somehow, though, they managed to separate themselves from that surge so far into the background almost no one knows who they are in comparison to some of the legends.  That's surprising considering one, they're from Norway, and two, they've released six full-lengths and two EPs, including this one we're reviewing here, since their inception.  So the question becomes, of course, what is it?  Did their music simply never catch hold or are they, well, to be blunt, doing something wrong?

 

Strangely it seems to be a little of both.  Evil Messiah comes at you with every detail of how to overwork the aesthetic of black metal over the past thirty years to the extent of being nearly obsolete.  The cover appears to be the vocalist's face, donning the, yawn, corpse paint you expect in some sort of gauche Photoshop filter, though thankfully it's better than most of their earlier covers, which tend to come off as a black nu-metal in appearance.  Then the song titles, yawn, cover the gamut of everything "evil" or at least what was perceived as such about twenty years ago by those who were still twelve.  And to top it all off, after a two-year hiatus, they crown their glory with an Alice Cooper cover?  It's almost senseless.  So, yes, in terms of appearance basically 90% of what Crest of Darkness is doing with their image needs to go, now.  But in spite of all that, in spite of how negative this review seems, there's a glorious future somewhere in the distance, there's someone who sees that flare in the night.  Evil Messiah, for all of its blatant, threadbare qualities, has some seriously sick riffing hiding in the drivel. It's clear the musicianship is here, it just needs to tear through the false stage curtain of black-metalness they seem to think is required.  Track two, "Armageddon", for example (featured above), has an absolutely sick leading line that the best of black metal bands wish they could write.  So it's clear, Crest of Darkness are stuck in a time everyone else has forgotten unless for reasons of nostalgia.  Their symbolism is antiquated, but yet their writing is supreme at times.  Simply put, they're doing the image wrong, but the sound largely right.  Really, no idea how it got to that point, but if they take reviews like this in stride in the future, and pay attention to their aesthetic as well as their writing, they could find a way, it's still possible, after all these years.  Drop that corpse paint nonsense and be yourselves, we know it's in there.

 

Crest of Darkness Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Crest of Darkness: Evil  Messiah
Grimface Distro, My Kingdom Music
3.2 / 5