Crematory – Inglorious Darkness – Album Review
Album Title: Inglorious Darkness
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 27 May 2022
It feels like Crematory have been around forever. They have long been a part of my musical life, having discovered them a frightening number of years ago as a teenager. The fact that they have been in existence for over thirty years and have released no fewer than 15 full-length albums in that time would certainly seem to justify this perception. And the Germans are back with their sixteenth offering, ‘Inglorious Darkness’.
Since the release of their last record, ‘Unbroken’ in 2020, Crematory have welcomed a new bassist in the form of Patrick Schmid who replaces Jason Matthias and have said goodbye to vocalist/guitarist Connie ‘Commer’ Andreszka. But do not fear, because the irrepressible lead vocalist, Gerhard ‘Felix’ Stass is still very much front and centre of the band, bringing his unmistakeable gravelly vocals to the Crematory party. Now a quintet, he is also joined by his long-standing, original colleagues Markus and Katrin Jüllich, who take care of the drums and keyboards respectively, as well as guitarist Rolf Munkes.
If you are familiar with the work of Crematory, you will not be surprised one iota by the content of ‘Inglorious Darkness’, because it follows their tried and trusted formula. It means that once you press play, you will be hit by eleven tracks of reasonably straight-forward melodic Gothic metal infused with hard rock as well as techno/electronic influences. In my review of ‘Oblivion’ back in 2018, I mused that some of Crematory’s music wouldn’t be that out of place at the Eurovision Song Contest. The fact that a couple of the songs here raise the self-same thoughts just demonstrates how little the German’s output has changed.
But is that necessarily a bad thing? After all, they are still plying their trade in an ever more difficult marketplace, and they have a devoted core of fans, so why change the formula? And I don’t mean this in a negative way in the slightest, but there is something incredibly ‘easy listening’ about this new album in particular. I must have listened to it back-to-back three or four times while working today, and I didn’t tire of it, or fervently wish I was listening to something else. I like some songs better than others it has to be said, and occasionally the music veers dangerously close to cheesy, almost parody territory (‘The Sound Of My Life’, or ‘Trümmerwelten’ for example) but that’s par for the course with this band over the years I feel. Otherwise, there’s not that much else to criticise here.
The record starts off in strong fashion with the rather excellent title track. Bathed in Gothic darkness created by lavish synths, the riffs are chunky, the rhythm section crisp and powerful, and the melodies are strong, culminating in a fantastic chorus that hits hard. Felix is as he has always been – charismatic and the deliverer of those wonderful low growls that have become so synonymous with the Crematory sound, taking me back to my teenage years instantly.
As good as the title track is, the great news is that there are songs on this record that I like even more, underlining the quality on offer here. First up is ‘Break Down The Walls’ which, despite the overt electronics and strong Goth flavour, is an undeniably catchy song with massive hooks and a chorus that never gets old. It has a swagger about it too that’s infectious, whilst Felix splits his performance between gruff growls and clean tones within the verses.
I also really enjoy the driving thrust of ‘Rest In Peace’ which then opens up into a catchy chorus, whilst the intro to ‘Until We Meet Again’ is pure drama and theatre, leading to one of the heaviest and darkest songs on the record. It also benefits from a great chorus complete with some of the most ear-catching low guitar notes that make me smile. A quasi-ballad, I like the fact that it pulls together so many facets of the Crematory sound and showcases all that’s good about this band. And then there’s the glorious ‘Not For The Innocent’ which might contain my favourite chorus of them all.
The other element to ‘Inglorious Darkness’ that requires exploration is a return to songs in their native German tongue, a facet not seen for a while, certainly not to this extent, where no fewer than four tracks are delivered in their mother tongue. It’s a positive move, even if the odd song sounds a little close to their compatriots Rammstein for comfort, albeit cloaked in a heavier sound. Just listen to the chorus of ‘Zur Hölle’ if you need any persuading on that front.
The crowning glory for the band and for long-term fans has to be the re-recording of their famous song, ‘Tears Of Time’, taken from their 1995 album ‘Illusions’. This time though, the song is given its German name, ‘Tränen der Zeit’ and is sung entirely in German. The fact that it fits relatively seamlessly within the running order of this album further underlines the consistency of this band over the years, especially bearing in mind that the original version is over a quarter of a century old now. And yet the melodies still stand up, especially the delicate piano melody to counteract the more muscular attributes of the song.
As always, the music of Crematory will not be for everyone, but they simply don’t care. And, on the strength of ‘Inglorious Darkness’, neither do I to be perfectly honest. I have had a genuinely fun time listening to this record, and I will continue to do so throughout the months to come. It might not be the most technical, the fastest, or the most original music in the world, but it is immensely enjoyable, and I have no problem with stating that ‘Inglorious Darkness’ is definitely Crematory’s strongest and most consistent offering for some time. As a result, it’s most definitely worth your time and attention.
The Score of Much Metal: 80%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
Septic Flesh – Modern Primitive
Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses
Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home
Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones
Morgue Supplier – Inevitability
Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)
Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus
I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping
Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle
LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness
Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain
Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme
Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set
Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes
Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn
Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone
Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama
Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP
Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse
Playgrounded – The Death Of Death
Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum
PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2
Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse
The Midgard Project – The Great Divide
Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light
Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts
New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods
Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation
Sabaton – The War To End All Wars
Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void
Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order
Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine
Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time
Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts
Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined
The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity
Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North
Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier
Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion
Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools
Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night
Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge
Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP
Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel
Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: