Crematory - Antiserum

Crematory Antiserum cover
I really admire a band wanting to experiment, but what I really admire way more is a band managing to successfully pull of any experimentation that they might set out to do. The normal MO of Crematory dictated the combination of extreme forms of death metal and gothic overtones at first. With time, the style changed progressively to a more commercial and accessible rock/metal with gothic element, but the occasional growl vocals. In recent years the band has even experimented ever so slightly with dance forms like on 2004’s “Revolution” without completely abandoning their former style.
In “Antiserum” Crematory, tries really hard to fuse a basis of EBM to a lot of their songs and some simple beats, here and there. Basically we’ve got a typical Crematory fare, with dance beats, but the whole attempt, feels rather forced... your usual dance music is meant to have a feelgood vibe and not to have growls and the electro subgenre, has seen, far better examples than the ones put forth by Crematory currently. Even the band themselves has never managed to sound better than what they did in the late 90s up to and including “Act Seven”, which must have been their creative heyday and pinnacle, when they were fueled, by a strong catalog of songs and some “healthy” experimentation within the scopes of the genre that did allow them to explore some other dimension and facets of the sound (ie clean vocals, ballads etc.) but not run into the possibility of estranging the fan-base...
“Antiserum” can just do that... estrange a longtime fan, by being too “different”, even if it capitalizes on previously explored forms.
“Apocalyptic Visions” is a weird little militaristic/futuristic intro with some electro keys and a bit of spoken inanities that segues into “Until the End” that continues this Jekyll and Hyde style of EBM meets melodic gothic death metal. While it’s not very bad, the electro elements are so overtly exaggerated that feel unnatural and clinical. There are pulses, beeps and various other effects in addition to pronounced keyboards and while the song might have worked well, this “neoterism” is hard to take.
Likewise “If You Believe” which mixes English and German lyrics, has some pretty nice verses, but its electronic parts, sound, at the very least weird.
“Inside Your Eyes” has some sweet melodies (ie the nice chorus), but again, it’s mostly led by electronics, where, the rocker in me, would like solid guitar riffs. And surely there must be a guitar buried, somewhere in the vortex of sounds in there, but it’s barely audible.
“Kommt Näher” is sung exclusively in German, and is more passionately delivered, but is somewhat boring as a composition.
“Irony of Fate” is much better, with the band almost reverting to its “normal” style and the electro-fx reduced mostly to some chimes and keyboard textures, which however are still “way too pronounced”. Obviously they could not “change the nature” and “style” of the album midway... but... I wish they hadn’t gone down this path in the first place.
“Virus” is a very EBM influenced tune, with the chorus sung in English and all the verses in German. It’s pretty abysmal, for a Crematory song, as an EBM melody, it’s not too bad, but I’d never had Felix singing it, especially in the voice he affects here.
“Back From the Dead” is more of the same, more or less, a bit more metal this time I guess but both the vocals and the overall result are not that amazing. The clean vocal verse, is not too bad, and the chorus line melody are not bad, but the way in which is delivered simply doesn’t work that well – at least for me.
“Welcome” is a throwback to more familiar territory, thus making it somewhat more acceptable, but it’s not that palatable as it only manages to stay interesting during the chorus intervals but not the verses.
Finally the title song, “Antiserum” itself, trims away almost all electro influences, “thankfully” to reveal, Crematory as most have known and loved them. It’s a nice song, reprising the “lyrics” that were “spoken” during “Apocalyptic Visions” to bring things full circle...
Honestly, I think I might have enjoyed the album much more without all the EBM elements. Crematory are Crematory, they should not try to copy I dunno, the Deathstars Inc, or Rammstein or whoever might be flavor of the week. They also never seem to have fully recovered from the departure of Lothar Frost, their original guitarist (who sometimes would also sing) with whom their recorded some of their finest albums... since after his departure the band seemingly never recaptured the exactly same majestic “gothic” feeling in their sound. They came close at times but… alas.
“Antiserum” is a bold attempt at experimenting, for which the band deserves props, but they ultimately fail to deliver something that will appease. There are much better melodic metal and EBM albums, out there, I’m afraid...