House of Decay – CD // Digital Download
Independent – Released – Aug 11 2017
Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt
Chaz Macklin / Vocals
Randy Mac / Guitars
Joe Fedele / Guitars
Alex Niszczak / Bass
Victor Figueroa / Drums
Cranely Gardens are a metalcore/deathcore 5 piece from New Jersey who has shared the stage with several well-known acts such as Carnifex and Whitechapel. House of Decay is Cranely Gardens’ 2nd EP. With 7 tracks House of Decay is only 27 minutes long. However, even though it’s short, the band managed to find space for five guest musicians on the album.
This is something I’ve seen recently; a small band getting someone a bit more famous to guest on their album. Of course, the fans of the more famous person find out and then they have to hear what their metal hero has been working on, which results in them finding the new band. In turn, fans of Cranely Gardens might also go out and find out who some of these folks are and check out their work as well. Unfortunately, Cranely Gardens picked a few people with pretty generic names plus a couple fairly obscure musicians but did not reference their guest’s previous work in the promo package, nor anywhere I could find on the internet. So for everyone’s benefit, I did some digging and here’s my best guess as to who these folks are. Pardon me if I’m not correct.
Chad Ruhlig – Vocalist – For the Fallen Dreams & LGND
Dan Watson – Vocalist – I have to guess this is the Dan Watson (Ex Infant Annihilator) of Enterprise Earth, Faith in Convergence, and Mire Lore. It could also be Dan Watson, vocalist & bassist of Bunk Dope, Hyborian Rage, & Truculence. Both seem to fit the interests of the Cranely but I’d lean towards the former vs the latter. Fans of either Dan should check out the album and see which Dan it is. I honestly can’t tell you. Maybe you can tell me?
Sims Cashion – Who the fuck is Sims Cashion? I guess CG decided to share the wealth and put a lesser known musician on their album as well to help him gain some interest. So for all my digging I could only find one Sims Cashion. ANYWHERE. He seems to be a guitarist and does some videos on YouTube. He also sells guitar lesson packs on Bandcamp.
Will Ramos – Another obscure name. My best searching came up with a Will Ramos who describes himself as “Former guy who yells at Secrets Don’t Sleep.” Tough his former band only has 1500 FB followers; this Will Ramos is from Jersey so he seems to fit.
Josh Frazier – They really made me dig deep on this one. There’s a Josh Frazier in Beyond the Shore from Kentucky who have an album out on Metal Blade Records. I’m leaning towards this Josh. In 2015, Beyond the Shore were auditioning for a new vocalist. They chose Josh and put his audition for the band up on YouTube for your inspection. I think I can hear him on Rapture.
Sorry for the aside, but it was necessary to adequately describe House of Decay.
The album opens with “Muswell Hill” which seems to be a news report about Muswell Hill killer, Dennis Nilsen ending with about 8 seconds of guitar that leads directly into “History of a Drowning Boy”, a track heavy in core screaming which features the aforementioned Will Ramos. Lyrically, there’s little doubt this track is about Nilsen. Slow paced with a low rhythm, periodic high notes are sprinkled through the track which speeds up through the chorus. I’ll admit here that at this point I was hoping House of Decay would turn out to be a concept album. Unfortunately, this appears to be the last reference to Nilsen on the album. Regardless, though I doubt the decision was made for the laughs. Conversely, I find the use of guest musicians on the album mildly comedic. See, Nilsen was lonely so he lured people to his house and killed them so they would stay. Maybe Cranely Gardens was lonely? Someone please check that these 5 guys are OK! Nilsen killed 6 before he was discovered.
House of Decay continues with “Seven Faces” (featuring Chad Ruhlig) and “Savages” (featuring Dan Watson). Both are heavy tracks with relatively well-known names picking up the helper on the vocals. There’s something about Savages that just stands out for me. Regardless, both tracks adequately display Cranely Gardens’ influences, which they list as “deathcore, metalcore, the new wave of American heavy metal, black, death, thrash and nu-metal” on their Facebook page.
“Rapture”, I think, is where they get the most out of any of their guests. I like the way the vocals come together in a manner that could not be done with one person. Sure, this makes Rapture more difficult to play live, since Frazier will rarely be there with them. However, for the album it’s a great piece.
House of Decay is closed out by “Carry the Earth” and “The Challenger”. These appear to have no guest musicians but there’s no indication that I can find about which track(s) the one, the only, Sims Cashion contributes on. Maybe he’s on one of these two, no clue. “The Challenger” has a doomish feel to it without losing the core. It’s kind of an interesting clash of styles worth hearing. Lyrically, this piece matches both so I suspect a lot of thought was put into this one.
In closing, House of Decay is a hard and heavy blend of several different genres with a mix of lyrical themes. To someone casually stopping by, House of Decay might seem to lack variety from track to track. In this respect, I feel this piece is something that requires more time and attention in order to appreciate. In 2017, finding fans with the time and mental & concentration abilities to appreciate this style could turn out to be Cranely Gardens’ biggest challenge. Even I, an avid reviewer of music guiltily lumped a few tracks together for expedience. If you’re up for the challenge, dig in and find all the subtleties I missed or didn’t list.