Apparently there was deliberate intent behind the creation of Crusades and the recording of this album which features an undeniable religious theme in its appearance, music and message contained within. Not that this is a pro-religion record--nothing could be further from the truth--but this concept album relies on religion for its whole raison d’etre, addressing the negativity of religion. Crusades has created an extremely atmospheric and effective piece of work.
Beginning with a very somber organ and spoken intro, “Attics” suddenly kicks into gear in a blaze of punk rock that is like a kick in the teeth as guitars come crashing in. Throughout this record Crusades use a number of different approaches to its sound as well as utilizing a number of vocalists too. Therefore, it’s not easy to pigeonhole the band as working specifically within the confines of any one particular genre. But if you wanted to hang your hat on a definition I’d plump for "melodic punk with a poppy bent" which forms the basis of the sound. The key aspect of this record is that whatever Crusades do, it is done with much aplomb and as such the band has delivered a diverse piece of work that never loses focus regardless of any musical twists and turns taken. It doesn’t matter if they’re channeling the sound of Samiam as I hear in “Accomplice,” which addresses the many scandals surrounding the Catholic faith, or sounding as if they’re going down a more metal route as on “Remedy;" Crusades has the chops to pull it all off with ease.
“Sacraments” follows on from “Attics” and is more of the thunderous, blazing punk rock that grabs and shakes you like it’s trying to wake you from a slumber. “Dreamers” follows the same path as those two tracks but adds in a chorus that seems to have Gainesville written all over it, adding another string to their bow. This is followed by the melodramatic opening to the aforementioned “Remedy” with initially an acoustic guitar accompanied by a more thick and heavy metallic guitar before gaining pace and adding a different hue to the record. Here the vocals also change to a much gruffer approach, which helps create a darker tone to the track as a slight musical tangent is taken.
Many albums tail off towards the end and the listener can be left with some filler that doesn’t really keep pace with the earlier tracks but on The Sun Is Down and the Night is Riding In that most certainly isn’t the case. “Beacons” provides me with the high point of the record, and is the penultimate song on the album with “Termites” bringing to a close this marvellous album. There are catchy songs aplenty if that is your requirement from music and much work has been put into the whole package here rather than rushing the process--it’s difficult to find fault in the music, the lyrics or the physical packaging (a sturdy gatefold cover with some interesting content). I never thought I’d ever refer to an album which had such an anti-religion theme as being uplifting but despite the dark, solemn moments here, that is what I feel when listening to the record. I don’t mean "uplifting" in a religious or spiritual way as I certainly do not have any belief in either deism or theism, but this definitely is a case of feeling physically energized by the music. The lyrics are far from what you’d normally expect to accompany such music and it’s to Crusades’ credit that they’ve managed to make it work.
When I review a very good record I rarely, if ever, feel as it I’ve not done enough to do it justice but for some reason I do feel as if I’ve not done a good enough job for The Sun Is Down and the Night is Riding In. To end I’d like to echo the comment made by fellow Punknews staffer, Sloane Daley, who described this record as “a truly unique gem” in his 2011 year end list: he wasn’t wrong.