In the years since Centuries released their nihilistic 2013 debut, Taedium Vitae, we have been somewhat blessed when it comes to the kind of cacophonous crust the band swears allegiance to, placing an unwieldy weight of expectation around the necks of any newcomers like a necklace of dead albatrosses and burning tyres. Bands entering (or indeed re-entering) the game in 2018, have big boots to fill, and need to either step up to the big boys’ table and join the likes of Nails, Trap Them and Full Of Hell, or try something different over in the corner and hope the grown-ups notice. Centuries’ sophomore effort, The Lights of This Earth are Blinding, errs towards the latter, quietly confident that its understated introspection and occasional eruptions of aural violence will attract both eyes and ears.
Hardcore to the core and eternally on the brink of collapse like a 40 minute vinegar stroke, but played with a pulsing, lacerated, bleeding heart, the album pulls influence from more than just simple mind-flaying discombobulating crust, adding an extra layer of atmosphere to the mix to create something more akin to a horror movie soundtrack. Little flairs like the delicate, mournful intro to Wooden Hands, or the desolate middle churn of A Bow Across A String, set the album apart from noise terror contemporaries, while fuzzed-up stoner guitars and elements of Remission-era Mastodon pepper the better moments. Indeed, it’s when the band stray furthest from the path, when they drip acrid globs of doom, thrash and stoner metal into the mix, that the results are best, in turn making those more average crust moments feel exactly that – average. As your boyfriend / girlfriend will tell you, there’s always a place for the hard and nasty, but sometimes, it’s the slower, danker moments that get you really sticky. In Centuries’ case, it’s the final double tap of Fury and Nul Orietur, the former crawling in the same shadows King 810 live in, like Mark Lanegan singing Vermillion from deep inside a K-hole, while the latter challenges High On Fire to a full-on prog-fight by the bins behind the club. Had Centuries stuck to the formula, we’d have an average crust album on our hands, which is frankly not good enough in 2018, but by acting like a genre floozy and flirting with a host of interesting nuances, the band have instead pushed opened the door to what could be a potentially groundbreaking third album.
The Lights of This Earth are Blinding is out 26 Jan and available here