Having released a truly astonishing debut (one of our favorites of 2019), Crows might have easily fallen into a sophomore slump, especially with the pandemic taking the wind out of many a band’s sails and making the mere act of creation all the more difficult. But from the first ringing, lysergic notes of Beware Believers (Bad Vibrations Records), it is clear that Crows have been doing anything but slumping. The album comes on like a blast of white heat, taking the more vitriolic moments of Silver Tongues as a starting point for indulging their noisiest impulses.
Indeed, Beware is everything that its predecessor was but somehow feels more primal, like the band is out for blood this time. Singer James Cox seemingly had a few bees in his bonnet and you can hear it in songs like “Only Time,” where he rants, “I held my breath for so long now and I held my tongue for longer than I should have.” His vitriol is matched by his bandmates’ noisy emanations, cracking beats and a melee of guitar riffs creating a terse balance of tension and release. That tension is never relinquished, and on “Room 156,” Cox sounds fit to kill as he bellows, “There’s nothing left in here,” over a riff sharp enough to cut glass. Meanwhile, on “The Servant,” we’re treated to a revelation of sorts, as Cox repeatedly sings, “I left God out in the rain.” Crows never let up for an instant on Beware, leaving the listener feeling a little beat up, and all the better for it.