As the staple bands of the original second wave scene evolved, starting to incorporate a wider use of other musical elements and genres, the style of 'traditional' black metal was left in a vacuum state by the mid-late 90’s and a plethora of bands rushed in to fill that vacuum, bands like Arckanum, Sargeist, 1349 and Craft continued the raw, hateful and stripped back approach that garnered black metal so many fans in its inception.
Musically, Craft’s style of black metal is close to the elements found in Darkthrone and Snorre Ruch’s legendary Thorns’ demos. It's raw, punishing, bursting with trem riffs and infused with the dissonant arpeggiated chords that Snorre made such an impact within both Thorns and Mayhem.
"White Noise and Black Metal" is sure to please all those fans who feel that black metal has become too diverse, too accepting and too accessible. The album flawlessly evokes the emotion and atmosphere that albums like "A Blaze in the Northern Sky" and "Aske" conjure so masterfully.
Perhaps the one thing that Craft excel at more so than some of their predecessors is the ability to have a more diverse approach in their songwriting — the advantage of hindsight. "White Noise and Black Metal" proudly displays its influence from not just the second wave but also bands like Celtic Frost and Bathory. Whilst Craft don't bring anything new or inventive to the table, they do have the fortune of understanding what encapsulated the early 90’s sound and how to crystallize those golden moments into raw black metal fury.
The album's production is deceiving, it's not overly produced and it captures the atmosphere found on those seminal 2nd wave albums without piercing your ear with screeching treble or masking the bass in a mess of flabby low end. For what the album is, the production suits it perfectly, each element is defined whilst still having an unpolished and lo-fi character.
Regardless of the many trends, innovations and cross-genre mingling that black metal has gone through and will continue to, there will always be a staple of bands that hold true to the vision and sound of this genres inception. There is no question as to whether bands will continue to emulate those early bands, but more a question of can they pull off their emulations successfully and convincingly? Where so many have failed to create compelling 2nd wave homages and will continue to do so; falling afoul of boring copycat mediocrity and teen-angst driven cheesiness, Craft through their 20-year career have left an indelible mark and if they continue to create works such as "White Noise and Black Metal" they’ll continue to harbour interest and acclaim from black metal fans.
Reviewed by Dan Thaumitan