Cranial – Alternate Endings

Rating: 4.5/5
Released: September 2019
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Band line-up:

Michael Melchers (guitar)
Julian Weidhaus (bass, vocals)
Cornelius Merlin (drums)
Sebastian Kröckel (guitar)


1. Faint Voice
2. Unceasing Lack
3. Burning Bridges
4. Holistic Figure


From Bavaria emerges this young sludge/atmospheric band Cranial with their second full-length album, Alternate Endings. Looking at this album on first sight, 4 tracks long, I thought it was an EP of a sort. I planned the time to sit, listen and review, and that’s when I discovered that 3 of those songs pass the 11 min mark and the shortest is an 8.33 mins long! Certainly a full album.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience; after going through the album for the first time, I was immersed fully under a mountain of soul-crushing musical talent.

Slowly creeping on me, those heavy, unexpected riffs got me hooked. Second run and I can feel the excitement and the urge to head-bang growing with every guitar slap and every drum beat.

There is a specific sense of evilness to this album manifesting in the riffs, a feel of discomfort, pain and suffering that comes along heavy chugs and screams, generating a mysterious power, urging for war and glory. Soothing the listener’s emotions down at points, preparing for destruction and exploding our minds at others. A dynamic of slowing down to a quiet riff, then building up to a heavier sound of destruction and chaos, that formula works very well here.

The evolution and riff progression in this album makes every riff feels different and never the same, like a new experience at every corner, sometimes the band takes more of an ambient approach, simmering slowly to deliver a burning riff to melt our faces.

In other parts the drums fill in, hammering down, syncing with heavy chugs to create this crashing sound that transforms into madness.

The formation and structure of the songs is barbaric, dwelling between heaviness then atmospheric sounds and drones, circling around to take the listener on a journey, while smashing all our dreams under a massive cloud of darkness.

Hypnotic, heavy and disorienting, are few words I can use to describe Alternate Endings. It’s an absolute beast of an album.

Review by

Johnny Wolf