Crow Killer, Enslaved to One (New Age Records, 2020)

I caught Crow Killer at NA30 (New Age 30th Anniversary Fest) in Garden Grove, CA in 2018. To myself, I thought “this is the most Salt Lake City band yet." 

If you are unfamiliar with SLC hardcore, bands like Tamarlane and Cherum are prime examples of hardcore that reflects what the city has always been associated with: intensity. The city, and its history, are saturated with it. If you have been there; you know that fights are more vicious, the jokes are just darker; and the hugs are more sincere. 

Once, I attended a wedding there with [New Age Records founder] Mike [Hartsfield]. The bridesmaids were so covered in tattoos, it looked more like a yakuza initiation. The cupcakes were so humorously dense that there had to be a contest to see who could eat the most. The winner was only able to ingest two. 

Anyway, enough color. Enslaved to One is the newest release from Crow Killer. New Age Records put it out on two vinyl variants (of which, the “rootbeer splatter”, is gorgeous). The LP is the subsequent release after Becoming an Object of Fear (2016), released on CD and tape (self-release) and digital (Glory Kid).

Pre-orders for Enslaved to One went up and tracks were dropped right at the onset of COVID-19. If you slept on it, allow me to explain as to why you should circle back and check it out. 

This record is so heavy, and all players have range. The band mixes discordinant harmonizing guitars over a relentless bass and articulate drums. It's got plenty of “alarm clock riffs” (a la Disembodied), minimalist breakdowns, sagas (two songs make it over the 6-minute mark), and sincere but evil fucking vocals. In short, it's like if Bloodlet played vegan metal. 

A disclaimer: Blake Foard (vocals) is a longtime friend of mine. My old bands played with Aftermath of a Trainwreck, whom Blake played drums for, many times. He also sang in Cool Your Jets.

For many years, Blake has been the go to guy for booking rad hardcore shows in SLC. In fact, the Foard Brothers have been staples of the Salt Lake scene for the entirety of living memory. Blake seamlessly shifts from barking to screaming to “talking” on this record in the sincerest of ways. 

This one time, I was on tour with A18, and we had a show booked in Salt Lake. We pulled up and Blake met our van, smirking with his eyes shifting from side to side. Hundreds of people were milling around in the parking lot. “So, uh...the venue owners aren’t here and won’t answer the phone….so, uh….we broke in through the bathroom, and we are gonna have the show after all. I’ll leave the money on the desk. If they say anything, fuck ‘em.” 

Photo: Snitchxblade

I am pleased that my favorite track from their first release, “It Comes In Waves," made it on the LP. It is a stand-out. The push-and-pull of “Castigate” is perfectly crafted. “Stand and Suffer” has some tight layered vocal tricks and frantic guitar that I cannot resist. The record has surprises like Megan Golden’s guest vocals on “Bring Back the Blood II." 

A friend of mine who bought this LP told me how much he loves how they went “a bit overboard” on the samples, and he meant it in a positive way. There is a bit of humor in sampling Angels with Filthy Souls, a fictitious movie created for color in the film Home Alone (1990).

The album also samples Charlie Chaplin’s iconic speech from The Great Dictator (1940), which in these times, everyone needs to listen to every week or so.

Regardless, the samples do not detract from the legitimacy of this stellar record.

Get It

Tagged: crow killer