Crematory – “Oblivion” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Continuing their 25 year legacy, much has been said about the diversity of this 18th release with greater input from the newer members as well as guest musicians. However, by no means has Germany’s greatest gothic metal band strayed away from its roots, and if there have been newer influences, then they’re by no means detracting from the tested formula of drummer Markus Jüllich’s compositions. Part of the reason for this is that Stefan Glass’s orchestral arrangements and Dirk Riegner’s indie nuances aren’t exactly alien elements to gothic metal, along with the virtuosic touches of Walter Stobbe, whose guitar when added to that of Tosse Basler and Rolf Munkes, only serves to add even more metal into the fold. So “Oblivion” is hardly as its title might suggest, but in fact, a refreshing and reinvigorating energy into Crematory’s material as exemplified on the 13 uber quality tracks here! From ‘Demon Inside’, with Felix Stass’s guttural roars and Stobbe’s heavy, dirty riffs almost hitting death metal spheres to ‘For All Of Us’ which ups the tempo with heavy drumming, but is beautifully contrasted by the twin clean harmonies of Basler and Katrin Jüllich – not forgetting Glass’s flowing orchestrals – it’s pretty much classic Crematory from start to finish, right down to the electro rock of ‘Immortals’ led by Katrin’s suave synths and femme vocals. Those underlying synths also add a strong melodic dimension on the very gothy ‘Revenge Is Mine’, completed by the catchy male vocal chorus and Stass’s own Dracula like horror tones. Thoroughly enjoyable in its entirety, ‘Stay With Me’ stood out with its illuminating melodies and powerful chorus, resonating emotion in its deep tones this time led by Basler’s clean soulful highs to the echo of ‘…pain is the key to your love..’. Impressing to the end, the changes on “Oblivion” do little to change what fans love best about Crematory and in the main, actually enhance the sound so people should have more faith in a band with such a pedigree and in my opinion, still reign at the top of their game.