CROSSS, Obsidian Spectre

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 07.15.13 in Reviews

Obsidian Spectre


In the chilling video for CROSSS’s “Bones Brigade”, a figure in an ominous black cloak kneels motionless on a beach, staring blankly off into the grey sky, as if in a trance. He remains like that, stock still, hypnotized, for a full three minutes and 30 seconds, his motionlessness becoming more sickeningly unsettling the longer it lasts. Finally, at the end of the video, he bows — as if in supplication to some god or spirit or eerie form that only he can see. He straightens, and the video cuts to black. That turns out to be a handy encapsulation of the Halifax group’s aesthetic: slow-moving, hypnotic and deeply, deeply creepy. Sounding something like Thee Oh Sees slowed down to about 2 RPM, the group tops grimy, repetitive chord patterns with wicked-warlock sneering, making for a final product that feels invested with prime ’70s sorcery rock black magick. “Smoke” warns, “Look into your mind’s eye/ don’t forget to not let your guard down” as guitars churn and boil like the steaming liquid in a witch’s cauldron. “Old Sound” draws its dark strength from its continual, gooseflesh-raising dives from major to minor key. Throughout, its members acquit themselves as if they’ve all just done kegstands with the blood of Kali Ma — dead-eyed, dutiful, and wearing sickening grimaces.