CROSSS at Parts & Labour (1566 Queen West), Friday (June 7), 10 pm. NXNE wristband or $5-$7; the Boat (158 Augusta), Wednesday (June 12), 11:15 pm. NXNE wristband or $10. nxne.com; and the Beaver (1192 Queen West), Thursday (June 13), 1 pm. Free. See listing.
Gloom rock lovers must get their claws on Obsidian Spectre, the debut album by Hamilton/Halifax grunge-metal trio CROSSS. Newly out on Telephone Explosion, it's droney and creaky and heavy, with high, distant vocals about dark-minded things.
It's also oddly uplifting. "Dark wizards working for the greater good of mankind," they once wrote in a bio.
You'd expect bandleader Andy March to cite the usual suspects - Sabbath, drone, mushrooms - as inspiration. He does not.
"My main influence is actually Indian classical music," he says. "Maybe that sounds crazy, but it's true."
In 2009, after putting in time in Halifax-affiliated bands Cousins, Tasseomancy (back when they were Ghost Bees), Museum Pieces and Verbal Warnin', March started CROSSS in Montreal as an excuse to collaborate with Play Guitar drummer Christian Simmons. They released one single before March moved to Toronto.
In Toronto last winter, he restarted the band in earnest with the current lineup of bassist Ryan Allen and drummer Nathan Doucet, who moved back to Halifax shortly after. "I've been driving to Nova Scotia a lot ever since," admits March, who currently resides in Hamilton.
Like the band's transient stop-start existence, the album didn't come easily. With a very specific sound in mind, March recorded, mixed and mastered the A-side himself, redoing those steps until he nailed it. The B-side is a long improvisation between March, Simmons and Lantern's Zach Fairbrother that developed over several months during CROSSS's Montreal years.
"It turned out to be something I really cared for," March says, "so I saved it for three years until now."