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Review - Bouquet Of Dead Crows - 'Hemispheres' (Album - German Shepherd Records)

A band who always have big ideas and concepts on their mind, Cambridge's Bouquet Of Dead Crows follow 2015's 'Of The Night' and 2018's 'Motus Octo' with this new release, 'Hemispheres', which further expands their musical horizons and ambitions to excellent effect. Released in two parts due to COVID - Part One 'Celestial' was released in May last year while Part Two 'Cerebral' came out last month - 'Hemispheres' explores themes of mental health and dealing with the sheer unpredictability of the world (especially at the moment) over shifting tunes of complexity marrying quiet, introspective passages with hard, heavy passages full of furious guitar riffing and battering drums. It can be a challenging listen but one well worth the effort as the band's tremendous collective musicianship shines through and is topped with Toni Bruce's crystal clear, emotive vocals to produce an album that repays repeated listens.

Although the running order is put together well and the album is not two completely distinct halves, 'Celestial' and 'Cerebral' do have slightly different feels to them. After the opening droning ambience of 'Terraformer', 'Celestial' features four tracks highlighting the rockier side of the band - 'Before The Storm', 'Caged', 'Left To Rot' and 'Kaiju Hijinks' - which boast plenty of fiery guitarwork from Neil Bruce and driving rhythmic interplay from bassist Karen Gadd and drummer Andrew Coxall. The brevity of tracks such as 'Before The Storm' and 'Kaiju Hijinks' - both under three minutes - however doesn't prevent the band from throwing in plenty of time changes and jumping from mood to mood alongside the furious passages of savage Mastodon like guitars and hardcore drumming. The final track on the 'Celestial' side of the album, 'Hemispheres' points the way towards the 'Cerebral' side of things, expanding to over five minutes and its ambience veering towards 'anthemic' with its choruses of 'It's not the end of the world...this time, it feels like the end of the world.... every time' summing up the album's themes perfectly. It's a great track and an excellent centrepiece for the album.

'Cerebral' contains four longer tracks, alongside another full-pelt rocker with time swings and tempo changes ('Standing At The Precipice') sandwiched in between, and shines a spotlight on the band's proggier leanings, influenced by the likes of Opeth's latter works and Dream Theater. 'Idle Thoughts' and 'One More Sunrise' once again mixes serene passages with more 'fearsome' sections while 'The Longest Road' largely dispenses with the heavy passages for a beautiful, restrained ballad showing off the melancholic, melodic side of the band. The album's themes - both musical and lyrical - coalesce on the epic final track 'Somewhere In The Static', where over nine minutes, the band march steadfastly over a landscape of soaring vocals, thumping rhythms, proggier touches of finesse and powerful riffing doom rock.

'Hemispheres' is an expansive, ambitious, brilliant sounding record (recorded at The Parlour Recording Studios in Kettering with Neil Haynes) that shows off the talents of all the personnel of Bouquet Of Dead Crows to a tee. If intelligent, well played, varied rock and metal is your thing, then this album is well worth exploring and will give out new discoveries in its dense, esoteric tunes for months to come. An album well worth your time and effort!

'Hemispheres' is available on all the major digital sites. CD versions can be picked up from the following link :- 'Celestial' and 'Cerebral' can also be picked up as individual items in their own right.

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