deathcrash have come a long way since the release of their softly spoken first single “Slumber” back in 2019. As they kick off 2022 with debut album Return, the group are firmly in their stride; melding glistening melodics that collide starkly with an expansive, visceral onslaught.
Defining a sound within a London scene over-saturated with post-punk is no easy feat. While deathcrash capture the otherworldly intensities of Explosions In The Sky, and their dynamic contrasting guitars hint at post-rock greats Mogwai, there remains a slowcore quietude bleeding through, more in line with Low or Codeine.
In the 12 song offering of Return, the group find themselves hopeful while clinging to the familiar safety found in old sadness. Opener “Sundown” sets the scene for an album filled with opposition, tracking a slow burning journey where delayed beats dance off bright guitars, and faintly droning feedback connects melodic fragments. As the song rises to a chaotic conclusion, it becomes a darting affair of distorted movement that ends as quickly as it began.
These opposing juxtapositions of gentle touches pressed tightly to emotion-fuelled outbursts are a recurring theme throughout the album. “Was Living” enters with a crashing storm that recedes to a thoughtful, dancing melody, and “Doomcrash” shivers into life for its final two minutes, collapsing on itself in a melting pool of sludge-esque guitars and uncomfortably low, resonating feedback from bassist Patrick Fitzgerald. At nearly 9 minutes in length (the longest on the record) “Doomcrash” feels like a statement of intent as it paints an atmospheric, cinematic landscape ever-spiralling into disjointed misfortune.
In its lighter moments, the record finds a nostalgic beauty within minimalism. Vocalist Tiernan Bank’s voice plays out like snippets from an intimate exchange, his words half-whispered, confessional and self-reflective. Nestled in the record’s centre, “Matt’s Song” is a softer highlight. A lo-fi addition, the track features a lone guitar plucking a simplistic melody over conversations just out of earshot. Retaining an intensely personal aura, this continues on tracks such as “American Metal” which, despite the name, slips into the hazier side of revival era emo. With a warm, comforting sound, the song is unassuming as a dancing lull swirls in tender repetition. It’s in these moments that the band feel hopeful, reaching outside of a frenzied havoc that’s darkly looming.
As Return winds down with final track “The Low Anthem”, Bank sweetly sings “I’ll be hopeful, I’ll be caring, and I will love you” - a sentiment strangely at odds with the rest of the album. In the song's slow moving dreamscape, the group advance with no apparent destination; searching for hope yet clinging to the depths of familiarity. It’s a sign perhaps, that as deathcrash continue to explore the highs and lows of their own cinematic landscape, past grief hasn’t quite lost its grip.