The shorthand for Crusades is deceptive because it runs the risk of sounding hokey: melodic occult punk. It could be such a cheese factory, a Lord of the Ringsmeets Strange Brew mess. It’s the opposite—it’s both musically and textually powerful. First the music. Crusades are a chainmail fist. The power comes from a tense grip of four musicians playing as a single-focus one. As a casting-off point, think Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes-era Propagandhi (Pro-pagan-dhi). Tinges of sharp metal at the edges. Quick punk thrusts. That’s sonically laid atop ‘90s hardcore like a semi-permeable loam that seeps in and adds textural smoke. There are guitar flourishes and drum fills, but they’re filigrees and accents, not the spotlight. Side one begins with a single-voiced recitation and ends with a piano solo. Lyrically, instead of international or scene politics, Ottawa’s Crusades explore and exalt the inner logic of “light” and “delights” turned inside out and crosses turned upside down. Invited blindness. Sweet grief. Giving into to a higher power to spin the wheel of fate. Eyes adjusted to darkness. Wings spreading. Living flames. Life without fear of being hunted. Inviting terrestrial death. “Unholy craft.” Christianity as a fable. After being burned at the stake, unrepentant, what happens to the ash? It flits into the sky, becomes weather, rains down, seeps into the soil, and germinates once again. Perhaps… reads and sounds like an epic dis-illuminated manuscript. I’ve been listening to this record compulsively. Highest recommendation.
–todd (No Idea #333 by accident? Methinks not.)