The name Skullcrusher immediately conjures up suggestions of doom metal, sludge, or thrash metal. The paradox between the appellation, which is the project of Helen Ballentine, and the music gainsays the aggression of any category of metal.
Skullcrusher’s debut album, Quiet the Room, sees her shifting from the sumptuous indie-folk sound inherent in her first two EPs to an ethereal ‘sad-girl-like’ sound that’s difficult to pigeonhole. On Quiet Room, Skullcrusher probes the complexity of childhood.
Quiet the Room encompasses 14-tracks, beginning with “They Quiet the Room,” flavored with soft, gleaming tones topped by Ballentine’s spectral voice, an amazingly evocative instrument, oozing tints of cultural dislocation.
Entry points on the album include “Building a Swing,” opening on a low-slung, strumming guitar and emerging, melancholic violin textures. Almost a murmur, Ballentine’s angelic voice imbues the lyrics with diaphanous tones, at once velvety and crystalline.
“Whatever Fits Together” delivers more conventional washes of indie folk with its gentle rhythmic pulse and mellow banjo savors. Oozing savors of dream-pop, the tune glides forth on gossamer coloration.
A personal favorite because of its drifting flow and the distant feel of Ballentine’s creamy, translucent vocals, “Sticker” echoes with the residual energy of ozone-smelling mists. While the sheer beauty and magical motion of “(secret instrumental),” oh-so exquisitely alluring, conveys listeners to the Empyrean.
The title track travels on a graceful piano enveloped by wraithlike tones. When Ballentine’s elegiac voice enters, the tune takes on chanting, Celtic aromas, infusing the song with ghostly gesticulations.
The last track, “You are my House,” introduces glimmers of hopefulness as Ballentine’s silky vocals give the lyrics saffron and emerald surfaces, transporting points of luminescence as if hearing-secret-harmonies.
Ballentine’s bewitching voice, breathless and hyper-feminine, asserts itself throughout the album, never getting lost in the harmonics.
With Quiet the Room, Skullcrusher offers listeners something simultaneously noun and verb, like a collision between memory and perception.