Crematory – “Monument” (Steamhammer / SPV)
A quarter of a century since they first started in 1991, Crematory are without a shadow of a doubt Germany’s leading gothic metal band. Possibly bigger than Mercedes in their hometown of Mannheim, Crematory have had a steady stream of releases that has seen them respectably claim that mantle. Now onto their 13th album in “Monument”, the biggest change has been the departure of 17 year veteran vocalist / guitarist Matthias Hechler, now replaced by two gentlemen: Tosse Basler (Scapegoat, Avalanche) as rhythm guitarist / clean vocalist, and Rolf Munkes on lead guitar! Has it made much of a difference? Well no, as the style pretty much continues from their last album “Antiserum” although the sound has lightened up a tad. It’s still very Crematory and goth with plenty of romantic melancholia, but its not quite as dark or hard as what they did a coupla years back. Still, I can hardly blame the band for playing it safe in breaking in the new guys and not trying anything radically different although “Monument” certainly has plenty to keep fans about from Germanic industro – goth tracks like ‘Falsche Tränen‘ featuring trademark Kraut rock baritone vocals from Felix Stass to the commercial goth of ‘Ravens Calling’ with its catchy emo choruses and new boy Basler adding his clean vocals in fine complementary style. On ‘Everything’ even when Stass’s vocals become death growls, Katrin Jüllich‘s almost whistling keyboards and classy piano add a suave overlay to a song which is superbly contrasted by the phat riffs and solos of Munkes and Basler. Standout track and heaviest for me had to be ‘My Love Within’ which really brought it all together with its heavy chopping djent riffs, Markus Jüllich‘s powering drums, and Stass’s dark drawls of ‘…cut out my tongue, and cut my throat..’ – all of course brilliantly complimented by those catchy keyboards and Basler’s once again soulful vocals – brilliant! “Monument” may not be a ground breaking album, but it is a symbolic title with justification attesting to a respected band that has consistently hit home runs when it comes to catchiness.