Following 2014's brilliant 'Metropolis', Nightcrawler returns with perhaps his darkest work to date, 'Strange Shadows'. The EP featuring 5 original and 4 remixes take great inspiration from Italian Giallo and horror movies of the late 70s and 80s. The record was produced by Nightcrawler (AKA George Gold) and mastered by the great Vincent Salvia (Atlantis, Chromelove EP). Not only is Gold a kick ass musician but he's also a talented graphic designer and again lends his artistic vision for the cover art of his latest EP.
To get in the true spirit of Nighcrawler's latest work, I advise that you run yourself a late night bath, light a few candles and bolt them doors and windows tightly! I was only three songs into this sucker before I became convinced that some maniac flaunting an axe was going to break into my home and chop off my arms and legs, leaving me nothing more than a mangled mess for some badly dubbed Italian detective to ponder over.
The two opening tracks, 'Macabre Serenade' and 'Una Notte Violenta' are great and they serve well in familiarising us with what we can expect. The hooky lead keyboard parts combined with fuzzy grim undertones almost leave you feeling as if you're being pursued by the music itself. Both tracks bare distant resemblance to some of John Carpenters earlier scored work and his classic fear provoking synth soundtracks of the 1980’s. It’s when we reach 'Omicido Nella Sala Rossa' that things visit a new level of potency. Nightmarish samples partnered with the tangled sounds of a female in distress, pull no punches in elevating tension and hurling your heart rate into overdrive. From the dream like void of 'Omicido...' we are led toward the last of the original tracks 'Pendulo Oculto' and my personal favourite, 'Calvary: Feat. Vincenzo Salvia'. 'Pendulo Oculto' is perhaps the most danceable song on the EP and comes complete with a heavily infectious backbeat that steers the songs dread filled melody and distantly stirs at memories of Nine Inch Nails earlier work. The excellent 'Calvary' draws proceedings to a close and although it too continues on a unsettling path, it bares some signs of hopefulness at its core, perhaps hinting to the listener that not all is lost after all. The final 4 songs of the record are remixes; OGRE takes a stab at Macabre Serenade, Umberto takes on Pendulo Oculto and both Alexandro Parisi and Profondo Delle Tenebre unshackle their own enthralling versions of Una Notte Violenta, all bringing their own unique twist to Nightcrawler’s original tracks.
On the whole ‘Strange Shadows’ is heavily atmospheric and is a vast exploration of darker sounds. It’s certainly not a record you’re going to listen to at the beach or play at your children’s birthday party, but that’s not saying there shouldn’t be a place in your life for this haunted gem. What's impressive about Nightcrawler is how his sound continues to evolve and that he refuses to remain stationary for too long. Instead he demonstrates perfectly how an artist can stay true to their sound and fan base, but at the same time still remaining fresh and progressive.