As if droning blackened doom metal weren't already inaccessible enough, Corvus and his project Black Crow King takes it a full step further with the highly experimental approach the genre heard on this debut. To Pay the Debt of Nature is a slow, dissonant, and downright noisy patience-tester that should only appeal to the most adventurous of music listeners. The noisy and experimental nature of the songwriting is a pretty tough nut to crack, and when this is combined with very long and brooding songs, making it through To Pay the Debt of Nature without taking a break is quite the daunting task. Black Crow King manages to sound both minimalistic and cacophonous at the same time, and while I don't believe this is a total artistic success, it's not a failure either - and, in total honesty, this is one of those albums you should hear before judging it based on my word alone. Be warned, however; this one should definitely be approached with caution.
Those familiar with the noisy and downright sickening black metal (or whatever the hell you want to call it) of Gnaw Their Tongues may have a decent idea what to expect from Black Crow King. These are two very different acts to be sure, but a very experimental and dissonant approach to blackened drone metal applies to both acts. While I do find that To Pay the Debt of Nature seldom reaches the moments of sheer horror obtained by some of the greater works from Gnaw Their Tongues, this is a very unsettling album to say the least. The raspy vocals over-top buzzing guitar riffs, sporadic drum fills, and strange keyboard layers can be quite disturbing under the right circumstances, and although a good portion of this lengthy album feels rather monotonous to me, there's no doubt that the atmosphere on To Pay the Debt of Nature is likely to satisfy many fans of experimental black metal.
With that said, I can't say that To Pay the Debt of Nature is a total success in my eyes. What Black Crow King achieves in terms of atmosphere comes at the price of sacrificing quality songwriting - I have a really tough time picking out anything memorable when the album ends, and the 62 minute playing time is downright absurd for music this slow and noisy. I guess this is one of those rare examples where, in spite of the album's compositional incoherency and monotony, it still may be listening to if you're interested in heavily atmospheric and torturous experience. Black Crow King's music is not even remotely for everybody, but for those willing to listen, this is a rather original and adventurous black metal record.