Bicycle Black Metal. I will now give you a few moments to yourself to let that sink in.
Back? Okay. Yes, Bicycle Black Metal. Cracked Vessel is a trio from Chicago who have without a doubt the most unlikely/ridiculous moniker for their music. I will let you decide for yourself if that is a good thing or not. Endless discussions can be made about the state of black metal nowadays. Purists spit on all the hipsters jumping on the bandwagon and question the sincerety and the believability of those hipster bands. Myself, I am sort of in the middle with this. On the one hand I am a strong supporter of the classic black metal 'values' but there is absolutely no denying the fact that when you let go of those values, very often pure magic happens. There's even Christian black metal that manages to entertain me, like Njiqahdda.. There is one simple rule I adhere to however: I will not tolerate dabblers making a mockery of my beloved genre (except for Faxed Head, they can get away with whatever they want as far as I'm concerned..). If the sincerety is there, I see no reason why you can't or shouldn't play black metal. Just make sure that you pour your heart and soul into it, to hell (pun intended) with what your idealistic or lyrical influences are. If the end result will be enjoyable always remains to be seen, but at least make sure the proper intentions are there.
Which brings us to the actual reviewing of Cracked Vessel. For those of you who have read some earlier reviews it might come as no surprise that I absolutely adore the raw, minimalistic punk-influenced style of black metal. A couple of months ago we had the amazing Tare EP, as well as the new Raspberry Bulbs. Cracked Vessel has the same no-nonsense approach to their black metal. Raw, in-your-face and furious. Very much influenced by the hardcore scene as well, something that is getting more and more common in the world of black metal lately. It's quite possible they started out as a hardcore band that discovered black metal, although I have very limited info on them. Cracked Vessel also infuses their vitriolic tracks with some post-punk and mathcore, but most of it is full on blasting punkish black metal. Blast beats, raw frantic riffs, hysterical shrieks, all underlined by a proper raw production that is almost mandatory to this style of black metal.
I really don't have that much to add to it. Fans of Bone Awl, Ancestors, Raspberry Bulbs, the various bands on the Youth Attack label etc.. will find Cracked Vessel a worthy addition to their collection. It's available as a pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp (where you can also find their earlier releases), as well as a cassette release. It just happens to be about bicycles apparantly..