Crow - Flock of Beast [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Crow

Crow: Flock of Beast [7 inch]

Flock of Beast [7 inch] (2009)

Prank


3.5
Alright, as much as I claim to love just about all Japanese hardcore, early Crow records have always been weak areas for me. The only records from Crow I'm familiar with are their stellar 2005 LP, Bloody Tear, and their brand new 7", Flock of Beast. The Crow that I know is a crusty metallic monster ...

Alright, as much as I claim to love just about all Japanese hardcore, early Crow records have always been weak areas for me. The only records from Crow I'm familiar with are their stellar 2005 LP, Bloody Tear, and their brand new 7", Flock of Beast. The Crow that I know is a crusty metallic monster and the new EP doesn't disappoint if you're looking for more of that sort of thing. This EP has crossover appeal written all over it; it's for the punks (not punx), thrashers, maybe even some noise fans and traditional metalheads.

Even though I haven't heard Ride the Lightning in probably 12 years, the mid-tempo, palm-muted gallops of "Flock of Beast I" are bringing me straight back to my pre-teen Rock 103.5 FM (what's up Chicago heshers!) days. Guitarist Tomy clocks in with some pretty wicked solo breaks and, fuck, there's even a clean interlude that -- if you can believe it in a punk band in 2009 -- isn't a complete Tragedy ripoff. Of course, you still get Crow's inimitable vocals, which to borrow an old cliché, separate the old Japanese men from the wacky thrash hat-wearing boys. The song is moody, suitably epic and actually pretty catchy in its own right.

Putting it lightly, the B-side "Flock of Beast II" is a mindfuck. The intro practically demands leg drumming, steering wheel drumming or whatever-other-hard-surface-you-happen-to-be-near drumming. Soon the sinister descending riff that forms the early backbone of the tune comes into the foreground; "What a bitchin', relatively simple thrash tune" you begin thinking to yourself. However, the exact instant before one gets comfortable into the rhythm enough to headbang, Crow begins to fuck with you.

First you'll observe the slightly muffled guitar solo in the background. After that you'll notice the drumming pace picks up, ever so slightly at first, until it becomes a flailing mess. Then swirls of guttural moans come into play and before you even know it "Flock of Beast II" has devolved into a virtual noise collage. Cue feedback drone, song ends, needle stops spinning and clicks off, right? Not this time friends, as the entire cycle repeats itself one more time, except this time the guttural moans never leave. Even though you've heard these parts before, the anticipation of the switches still leaves you guessing at what the hell is really going on. Only after a handful of listens will the structure of the tune come into full focus.

Chalk up another winner for Prank.