By Dr. Abner Mality
Straight out of the New Hampshire hills, a location not exactly known for a plethora of heavy acts, comes this rather unusual band, who seem to be caught in a kind of identity crisis. I suspect their split personality is by design and it makes "Crushed" a rather off-kilter listening experience.
Part of MAGNATAR wants to be a straight forward sludge band full of heaving down-tuned riffs and lusty shouts. The other part is lost in the atmospheric post-metal realm, creating rather delicate sound patterns and melodies. Interspersed between the two poles are strange outbursts of straight up noise. "Dead Swan" hits with pretty typical sludge riffs but the following "Crown of Thorns" delves much more into a kind of jangly post rock sound. Sometimes MAGNATAR jangles when it should...well, crush. There are odd digressions, like a kind of roaring vocal that pops up during quieter moments while cleaner tones arise during the heaviest sludge. The album starts out with short and rather abrupt songs, but they gradually become longer and more involved.
The band really hits its stride with "Dragged Across The Surface of the Sun", with a monster down-tuned riff that would make ELECTRIC WIZARD proud. Just a killer track. Despite its name, the title track leans much more to the light/heavy approach of post-metal, laced with tribal drumbeats and plenty of jangle, although there are thick grooves as well. The last track "Event Horizon" is so insanely heavy that it loses cohesion. It sounds like a cliff crumbling into dust during a massive earthquake. A jarring bit of noise for sure.
Difficult to come up with a pat description of MAGNATAR, which is probably just as they planned it.