Craneium’s latest album, The Narrow Line, bares several similarities to an ancient Grecian epic; both works contain the hallmarks of a fantastical journey. For one, they surprise: shifts in tone, dynamic, and elemental feeling take the ear and the mind’s eye alike on something of a grandiose adventure that entails diversions and sharp turns that are unexpected yet thrilling.
In the same manner in which readers of Homer’s The Odyssey are met with shock that protagonist Odysseus was taken captive by Calypso amidst his quest, all who listen to The Narrow Line will revel in its sudden – yet seamless – dynamic transitions.
‘I’m Your Demon’ is one of the several tracks that exemplify this element in play. The track employs intriguing and skilful juxtaposition between the almost gossamer-like nature that washes over the verses like gentle summer rain and the explosion of guitar-fueled fuzz that erupts upon the onset of each chorus. It bubbles over with power at all the right moments – some that one wouldn’t necessarily expect, either, making the track a dynamic wildcard. The tonal duality (as well as the contrast between that of the verses and the track’s title) makes ‘I’m Your Demon’ an exciting listen that succeeds in not only commanding the attention of the ear but maintaining it. A similar yet equally as enthralling fare is offered up on ‘The Soothsayer,’ which harnesses spunk through the plucky guitar riff that peppers the verses. Right when the ear begins to take comfort with the melodic repetition, a fuzz-fueled build occurs that pumps the body with pure adrenaline, slowly leading the listener up to the tallest, steepest incline of a roller coaster – all to descend into a whirring realm of raw power. The dynamic transitions are as smooth as they are a welcome surprise, making the act of listening to ‘Smoothsayer’ feel fresh time and time again.
Another notable strength of The Narrow Line is its ability to source strength from nuance. Each musical element within each track stands strong on its own, yet when they are all woven together with finely-calibrated intricacy, they do not overpower one another but rather function harmoniously. ‘Beyond The Pale’ notably exemplifies this. Each crash of the cymbals unearthed fuzz of the bass line, and melodic dance of the guitar melds together with sonic ease – hitting the ear in an almost beguiling manner.