Random Records with Steve O
Crusades - This is a Sickness and Sickness Will EndSteve O - March 6, 2017
The third Crusades full length is a little different beast from the ones that preceded it. While previous releases had strong trappings of satanic, atheistic, and anti-deistic imagery, they’ve brought a slightly different vibe on This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End. It is, however, just as dark and foreboding as everything the Ottawa quartet has done up to now. The record revolves around the death of loved ones, a trend we’ve been seeing more of lately (recent releases by Touché Amore and After the Fall come to mind). It’s a topic that is a lot easier to find a relationship with, than say, the life and death of Giordano Bruno, the man who was burned at the stake for vocally and publicly supporting Copernicus’ heliocentric theory and the subject of 2013’s fantastic Perhaps You Deliver this Judgment with Greater Fear than I Receive It.
But it’s not just a lyrical shift that makes This is a Sickness… stand out. There’s a metal influence found in all of Crusades’ music. Previously that’s been rooted in the Mercyful Fate/In Solitude realm, sans the falsetto, but it had that upbeat pace and satanic imagery. There’s some of that here, see opener “1590 (Sickness Never Ceasing),” or “1866 (Porch and Portal),” but you get the feeling they’ve been listening to stuff like Neurosis, post-metal, and maybe a little funeral doom slightly more than the King (Diamond, not Elvis…come on) when composing these songs. “1828 (Father of Waves)” and “1940 (Whirr and Chime)” are both slower paced ballad-eqsue haunts, clocking in over five minutes, while the latter and “1846 (Once Drinking Deep)” feature some haunting keyboards and strings, while songs like “1713 (The Scorching Fevers),” and majestic closer “1657 (Black Curtains Draw)” blend both worlds.
While the theme isn’t as obscure, the lyrics are written the same way as before. “1940 (Whirr and Chime)” ends with a haunting ode to mortality, with a healthy dose of creative writing: “Until the ceaseless hands / Expose our vulnerability / Tales of woe / And abstract sympathy.” Combined with the typical darkness found on anything Crusades does, the ethereal feel of the keyboards and strings sprinkled throughout, and some of the most intelligent and allegorical lyrics on a punk record, This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End is a unique record. Epic closer “1657 (Black Curtains Draw)” sums up the record perfectly. Combing the melodramatic feel with slower passages, strings, and keyboards, with a darker, faster, heavier transition stage in the middle of the song, with some tough lines about death screamed in your face, and one of the fastest points on the record, before the funeral pall takes over once again. It can be a tough record to listen to at times (much like the aforementioned Touché Amore and After the Fall ones), so wonderfully do the lyrics relate their theme of death. But that’s what makes it so powerful too.
Go take a listen to This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End on Crusades’ bandcamp. If you’re in Canada you can get the record from Crusades’ own label Countless Altars, or if you’re in the States from Off With Their Heads’ Ryan Young’s Anxious and Angry.