Craw were an underground band from Cleveland, OH, active from 1988 through 2002. Their sound touched on metal, post-hardcore and progressive rock while remaining wholly distinct from any movement. Anyone interested in dark, heavy, complex rock/metal—everything from Tool, Meshuggah and King Crimson to Neurosis, Don Caballero, Isis, Rodan, Kayo Dot and Gorguts—needs to know their work. Craw’s final album, Bodies for Strontium 90, came out on the visible, well-respected label Hydra Head in 2002, yet their early discography, including the stunning full-lengths Craw (1993), Lost Nation Road (1994) and Map, Monitor, Surge (1997), is little known even among connoisseurs. A new Kickstarter-funded box set, 1993–1997, aims to remedy that.
Each of these albums, all beautifully recorded or co-recorded by Steve Albini, is an endlessly involving labyrinth in which elegiac beauty presses up against nightmarish ugliness. The records feature air-tight, ingeniously off-kilter riffs; vocals that range from a faint whine to a horrifying shriek; epic, multichapter song structures; intoxicating guitar textures; an immense dynamic range; and esoteric lyrical themes. The songs don’t follow conventional patterns, but their internal logic is uncannily sound; they’re scientific in their microdetail, yet at the same time, bracingly emotional.
These records aren’t special merely because they’re obscure; they’re not second best to everything you’ve already heard from their era. We truly believe that these three LPs stand alongside acknowledged ’90s masterworks such as Slint’s Spiderland, the Jesus Lizard’s Goat and Shellac’s At Action Park.
Copyright 2014 Northern Spy Records