Kråke // Conquering Death
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — A murdering of crows
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: myspace.com/krakelegion | facebook.com/Kraakeofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2012.06.29 | US: 06.15.2012 [Digitally]

Kråke - Conquering Death

Kråke have chosen to play with the big boys by entering the symphonic black metal arena. With the likes of Vesania‘s Distractive Killusions, Cradle of Filth‘s Cruelty and the Beast and Graveworm‘s Fragments of Death already high up on my playlist, Kråke have their work cut out for them. Kråke consists of founding members Dreugh and Beist, two brothers from Kopervik on the west coast of Norway and they liken elements of their début offering to Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child, Bal-Sagoth and Type O Negative.  With names like that being thrown around, Kråke have some mighty big shoes to fill! Because I have a mild obsession with crows (or in fact their larger counterparts, ravens) at the moment I was rather excited to listen to Kråke’s Conquering Death album. (The meaning of Kråke, wait for it, crow in Norwegian [You’re so gothic you’re dead. – AMG]). So with this rather tenuous connection, conjuring pictures of mythical crows bringing forth misery and, of course, much death and bad karma I listened and I listened and I listened some more.

Being symphonic black metal with some atmospheric elements thrown in, the album is fairly accessible. Beist delivers traditional black metal shrieks that are mostly understandable and easy to follow. The album’s lyrics center mainly on the darker side of life and the inevitability of death with only a few instances of lyrics that, for me, verged on cheese, like on the track “The Gatekeeper,” for example, which offers up some 15 year old cheddar instead of lyrics. Dreugh handles everything from the guitars, bass, orchestra, right through to the drums. He even went as far as composing, recording, engineering and finally mixing the album himself. While admirable, I think the problem lies therein—too much of the same.

Conquering Death starts off with a cold, bleak, rather short, unusual sounding instrumental track, well titled “A Murder of Crows.”  Well, well, well, what do you know, more crows! [I’m sensing a pattern… AMG] This track quickly became one of my favorite parts of the album. But I wish that Kråke had chosen to carry somKråke 2012e of this strange catchiness through into the rest of the album. Sadly there is mostly a lot of redundancy in the tracks that follow and when not concentrating I have difficulty picking up when one song ends and another begins. Admittedly there are a few good moments on Conquering Death, but they are just far too few and far between for my liking.

Kråke briefly come into their own, first with “Ed” and then with “Victorious, I” and “I Ly As Lyset”. “Victorious, I” has a fun galloping guitar riff that really just grabs the listener’s attention and is one of the catchier songs off Conquering Death. If you choose to listen to only a single song off the album, pick “Victorious, I”. “Ed” and “I Ly As Lyset” are Kråke’s two Norwegian offerings. Here they finally let their hair down so to speak and appear to have some fun. My only complaint with “I Ly av Lyset” is that it drags on—in fact about a good two minutes longer than it should. With those highlights in mind, however, I won’t return to this album often, if at all. While Conquering Death has some good moments, they’re scattered and few and far between. I’m going to have to say that Kråke have failed in their efforts to convince me. Unless you need every Norwegian symphonic black metal record ever recorded, you’re better off skipping this one.