Unholy Craft is another project from Norway’s underground Black Metal artist, Praefuro, who has been pretty active in several projects since 2021. Similar to his Atmospheric Black Metal group, Solus Grief, we get a slightly more raw and ‘kvlt’ Black Metal project, drawing back to the works of very early Darkthrone (like ‘Transylvanian Hunger’ days) and other hard hitting artists like Gorgoroth. While Prafuro’s other works have been rather scattered, Unholy Craft seems pretty zeroed in on the style and themes of the late 90s Black Metal with tracks such as ‘Vitriolic Winds of Hate’ which is spiteful, fuzzy, and about as grim as one can get, like a Judas Iscariot album. Instrumentally, a lot of the riffs might sound familiar from those who have heard Solus Grief, but with much less melody and atmospheric moments. Vocals are tortured and static laden and pushed into the background a little bit more than some might like, but that is part of the ‘old school’ appeal on ‘Naar All Tid er Ormme’ which is far from the latest well produced Cradle of Filth album. There are some atmospheric moments such as the lo fi keyboards and creepy background noises halfway through the track, but without forsaking any of the heaviness rather than building the tension towards it.
Bass work is pretty buried overall in the mix of the music, save for on ‘En Sjels Pinsle’ which has more a rumble to it and just a thicker sound overall. On the plus side it sounds rawer, but on the downside the vocals even get more pushed back, and as a result sound more cavernous and high pitched. There are some Black n’ Roll style riffs here and there to add a bit more groove to the music, but the feeling is still ‘furious 90s’ versus ‘Satyricon groove’. For those looking for some of the most hellfire driven type of Black Metal, ‘As I Gaze Upon the End’ is a fine example of where Praefuro just shreds the whole way through with no moment for interludes, no Darkthrone inspired Punk Thrash melodies, just sheer scorching good ol’Norwegian style Black Metal that can be comparable to the likes of early 1349. The guitar work here is especially impressive, showing that Praefuro knows his stuff and can take a genre from years ago and put a slightly modern spin on it without making it too unorthodox while still keeping in line with the roots of the music.
The only possible letdown of the album is the spacey closer ‘I Taaken’. The album blazes through seven tracks of unforgiving music and then one gets a instrumental that comes off as a 80s sci fi dramatic movie moment. While it adds tons of atmosphere and feels like the aftermath of watching a while row of churches burn against a clear night sky, it feels like a nod towards the more atmospheric side of Solus Grief but an insult to the spitfire ways of the 90s Norwegian Black Metal scene. A lot of people listen to raw, ‘kvlt’ style Black Metal for the fast and blasphemous, not the quiet and introspective moments. Those who like the more Depressive/Atmospheric Black Metal acts like Darkspace or even Xasthur might appreciate this little break, but a lot of fans might skip this one. Aside from the last track though, ‘Naar All Tid er Ormme’ is a solid collection of one man Raw Black Metal pieces that is blasphemous in its lyrics but not obvious about it in a ‘glory for Satan’ kind of way. For those who don’t want any lush production or blatant symphonic backings, then this is for them. Raw, evil, and glorious!