REVIEW: Cranely Gardens – House of Decay [EP/2017]

Artist: Cranely Gardens 

Album: House of Decay – EP 


Have you ever stopped to think about the futility of our own existence as humans? From the first second we’re ejected out of the womb and into reality, we begin to die. Day by day, molecule by molecule we waste away. For some it’s more rapid—assisted by disease or by poor decision making. For others, life is a long, slowly dragged knife slicing away at our livelihood inch by inch, making every year we live just one year closer to the year we die.  

Our flesh and bones are the scaffolding and infrastructure to the buildings that house our spirit; and every day it decays a little more.  

Thusly opens the devastating and dreary mentality behind Cranely Gardens’ long-awaited EP, House of Decay. Every bit as haunting as it sounds, and even heavier than the listener might guess, House of Decay is a ghastly display of grisly, gut wrenching metalcore mashed up with elements of post-metal and downtempo deathcore both, yielding an earnest and eviscerating release that stops at nothing to render the listener lifeless.  

A gnarly display of New Jersey metal combined with -core influences that run the full gambit of subgenres, House of Decay is fun, furious and well-rounded, diverse above all else. Percussionist Ryan Shane is the core of Cranely Gardens’ dynamic, and from the first full track, “History of a Drowning Boy,” he makes it abundantly evident. With bouncy, pummeling grooves that dip into sludgy breakdowns and blitzing blast beats, Shane’s work is speedy, sinister and—where needed—slower than molasses in January. While his ability to craft clever patterns is abundant on “History of a Drowning Boy,” the latter songs—especially “Savages”—see a choppier side of his footwork with more focused on speed and technicality that draw more from the metallic end of the heavy music spectrum. Here, Shane works with guitarists Joe Fedele and Randy Mac, who create scathing riffs that fill the segments between bone-busting breakdowns. Cranely Gardens—while they certainly know how to break it down—have plenty of furiously fretted portions loaded with lacerating leads and grisly grooves. “Seven Faces” and “The Challenger” are excellent examples—each with eviscerating breakdowns, but still home to scintillating leads and low, chunky bass from Alex Niszczak. Niszczak’s low, lumbering tones add heft and weight to the low end of House of Decay, helping the breakdowns hit harder while also allowing the leads and grooves to flow, built on a dynamic foundation of bold, brash and brooding depth.  

Cranely Gardens might not reinvent the wheel with their music, but they make House of Decay an uproarious success, with much of the credit going to frontman Chaz Macklin. Diverse with his range and deadly with his vocal endurance, Macklin adds everything from Sky-high shrieks and subterranean bellows to the mix, dominating primarily with a gritty and thick mid-range roar. “Rapture” and “History of a Drowning Boy” see his range in rare form, where “Carry the Earth” focuses more on his lyrical prowess and endurance, relying less on range to wow the listener and more on lyricism and constant vocal intensity. Again, Macklin isn’t the next-greatest-vocalist about to explode across social media—but he is intense, experienced and energetic, adding mountains of meaty, masterful vocal work to House of Decay, refusing complacency and always trying to make each song feel different.  

Clocking in at a full-bodied 27 minutes, with plenty of atmosphere and aggression both to keep the listener attentive, House of Decay is a diverse sampler platter of sinister, moody heavy music. Sure—it isn’t a game changer, and likely won’t come in at any top-five year end lists, but, it is fun and fresh—an energetic and enraged infusion of new blood for heavy music enthusiasts to fill their veins with. With enough bounce and brutal heaviness to stay in moderate rotation for months, and just enough innovation and emotion to avoid monotony, Cranely Gardens make a thick and hefty EP that is sure to appease anyone interested in aggressive music.  



For Fans Of: InVoker, Extortionist, Oceano, Rooks 

By: Connor Welsh