PICK OF THE WEEK: Cruciamentum unleash hellish dose of classic death with ‘Charnel Passages’

CruciamentumAfter spending a decade engulfing the underground with their classic-tinged, churning death metal, Cruciamentum finally have a full-length record for you to hold in your hands. All that time, all the praise heaped upon them, and they are putting their decrepit money where their rotting mouths are with their debut long player “Charnel Passages.”

With all of the talk this band has generated, and the promise of one of the year’s most vital death metal releases from their label Profound Lore, there is a lot on the line. And holy hell, do Cruciamentum ever deliver the goods on this seven-track, nearly 45-minute album. Due to writing for a national magazine, where lead times are much shorter, I’ve had the luxury of immersing myself on this album for the past couple months, and from the first listen on, it has blistered my senses. Boatloads of riffs, furious growls, and sounds that basically echo the record’s title are what await, and sure enough, this is one of the year’s finest death releases. Much of that is in execution, where these guys are furious reapers, with a stranglehold on their style and approach to the music. Not only is it a brutal listen, it’s also dangerously infectious, with many of these parts etching their way into your head and carving their DNA in your brain.

Cruciamentum coverThe UK-based band planted their roots back in 2005 (though the lineup wasn’t solidified for several years), delivered a couple of well-received demos in 2008 and 2009, as well as teaming up with Vasaeleth for a split release in 2011. That same year, they put out their first EP “Engulfed in Desolation,” and then the band went into creative hibernation. But now four years later, the band—vocalist/guitarist D.L., guitarist R.C., bassist B.C., drummer D. B-H.—have put together a focused, fiery, massive release that was worth the wait. Drinking deep from the bloody streams created by bands such as Incantation, Cruciamentum continue mauling in the same repulsive way as the genre’s pioneers and should light the fires of anyone who pines for the true tenets of death metal.

The album opens with “The Conquered Sun (The Dying Light Beyond Morpheus Realms)” that has a frosty start before guitars tears open the sky and the riffs begin raining down. In fact, these are some of the stickiest, most memorable riffs on the record (they constantly run through my head), and provide a skull-crushing element to the song. The vocals are gruff and mean, while the drums are obliterated, and as melodies roil, murky synth arises, soloing blazes, and the raucous pace eventually fades away. “Necrophagous Communion” stomps heavily, with hellish growls terrifying and strong leads blinding. Parts of the song trudge in the mud, while other have a mystical glow to them all while boiling in blood. The final moments strike suddenly, with the tempo racing hard, and then the thing ends abruptly. “Tongues of Nightshade” has guitar squeals and squalls, with the pace again bringing thunder and the growls conveying rage. The band thrashes viciously, with the vocals getting screamier, and the guitars tearing out your guts. “Rites to the Abduction of Essence” has a foggy, doomy introduction before the band starts chugging and the vocals take a turn for the nasty. Dark shadowy keys lurk beneath the terror, while mystical gasps and punishing bursts fade into the mist.

“Piety Carved From Flesh” tears open immediately, while guitars rampage massively and humid melodies take over. The pace is just relentless, with the growls destroying and the lead guitars hitting a spiral. The band mashes over and over before the track grinds to a sudden halt. “Dissolution of the Moral Perception” has chilling synth spilling over, and then riffs blast out of that to a tempered pace that leads into a dizzying assault. The entire scene is carnage, as the drums are demolished and the guitar work splatters over top. The track turns gut wrenching, but later the lead work becomes exploratory and cosmic, the path gets muddy, and crazed wails lead you out. Closer “Collapse” takes its time to build, but when it hits its peak, it starts to grind and churn. The song continually gets wilder, incinerating what’s in front of it but then getting weirdly playful and adventurous. But then the track catches fire again, the growls and howls sound almost spoken, a bizarre cloud hangs overhead, and all elements slowly trickle away, leaving you thoroughly punished.

Cruciamentum’s true arrival may have taken some time, but now that they’re here, it’s time for skulls to be crushed and the hellish put that is classic death metal to swallow up the pretenders. All of the praise showered on this band was well worth it and were not wasted words. They may not be rewriting death metal on “Charnel Passages,” but they are reminding people of the way this music is played, which is deadly, massively, and with razor-sharp precision.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cruciamentum/285239791946

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

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