Crow Eats Man are a five-piece heavy rock band based in Mountain View, California, who formed in 2016 and are heavily influenced by rock/grunge bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains, who both rose to prominence in the nineties. They combine these influences with aspects of more recent rock bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Avenged Sevenfold. The fusion of grunge and modern rock/metal gives them a unique sound, aided by all members being highly proficient musicians and performers.
This five-track eponymous E.P. is their first release and packs a powerful sonic punch. Crow Eats Man make music on an epic scale, with several tracks clocking in at close to, or over, five minutes, including the E.P. lead track Jaded. Based around a descending chord sequence and some meaty guitar riffs, it is Sebastian’s lead vocals that really grab your attention. His full-throated delivery brings to mind the vocals of rock legends Scott Weiland and Layne Staley, both sadly now passed on. After a brooding verse, it bursts into a cathartic, engaging chorus lifted further by a killer high riff; “I’m faded, I’m jaded, you brought me to my knees….” runs the memorable refrain.
The production is first rate, with every instrument recorded with crystalline clarity and mixed to perfection. After the standard verse/chorus structure, the band really allow the music to breathe. Following the second chorus, a passage of Avenged Sevenfold-esque harmonized guitar leads to some cyclonic drumming, then a break down section which culminates in a blazing guitar solo. One last chorus drives the song home and you can see why this is the lead track. Excellent stuff.
Lost Son, the second track, starts with a dark, sleazy low-end riff that any self respecting metal band would be proud of, before launching into a hard-rocking song guaranteed to get the moshpit headbanging. It alternates between sections of heavy Alice in Chains-style grind and slightly lighter but still hard hitting Audioslave-type riffs, with vocals that brought to mind Josh Homme. They show their musical chops towards the end with alternating sections of 5/4 and 6/4, which shows the influence of progressive rock, another facet to this band.
This rhythmic complexity continues on third song Before Sunday, which is in triple time throughout. It creates a brooding sonic soundscape with rumbling, swirling riffs and ascending lines played in octaves, with Sebastian giving an excellent vocal performance. It brought to mind the cathartic rage of Soundgarden, with Sebastian reminiscent of the late, great Chris Cornell. The exotic lead guitar work towards the end made me think of Faith No More’s Jim Martin circa their classic Angel Dust album.
Deependit is another bulldozer of a song built on a colossal low-end riff. It builds to an anthemic chorus strengthened by solid backing vocals, with a highly melodic bassline that helps drive the music forward. It culminates in a potent, wah-drenched guitar solo that doesn’t outstay its welcome and completes one of the strongest tracks on the E.P.
Closing song, the excellently titled Fresno Cigarette Run, is a relatively short but no less powerful way to finish. It features some biting machine-gun riffage and combines 4/4 and 6/8 time to great effect, with a catchy chant section and creative use of space. It provides a little light relief after the emotional intensity of the earlier tracks and bookends over twenty minutes of sustained high quality rock perfectly.
Overall, this is a highly impressive debut E.P. from a rock band who have hit the ground running and found their own style. Combining elements of old-school grunge with more modern influences and production techniques gives them an appeal for both young and old rock fans. Their first-class musicianship should mean that they thrive on the live circuit and, in Jaded, they have a track that should do well on American radio and elsewhere. This is a band with huge potential for the future. Ones to keep an eye on in 2018.
VERDICT: 8.9 out of 10