2015 has been a damn fine year for death metal so far, and it appears that Profound Lore is looking to up the ante with their most recent salvo of releases. Indeed, the label has in its hot little hands a pair of debut full-lengths from two up-and-coming bands who’s respective takes on death metal couldn’t be more different if they tried, yet both strive for excellence in their own way.
Philly’s Pissgrave first impressed the hell out of me with their self-titled 2014 demo, which was an exercise in old school DM at its most filthy and furious. But make no mistake, the band haven’t cleaned up their sound in any way, shape or form for their big label debut; in fact I would go so far as to say that Suicide Euphoria sounds even nastier and more scathing than the demo. Imagine Legion-era Deicide hitting the crack pipe and engaging in a blood-soaked brawl with Revenge and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this feces-covered beast has to offer.
Suicide Euphoria is one the most wickedly corrosive slabs of death metal I’ve had the pleasure of soiling my ears with since… well, since I soiled my ears with their demo last year. Underneath that grotesque production scheme are some equally sickening riffs, and songs such as “Impaled Vibration” and “Prevail in Hell” end up lodging themselves in your skull in spite of the unbelievably harsh execution; the band might have caked on even more dirt, grime and bodily fluids, but not at the expense of the craftsmanship they’ve exhibited since the beginning.
If you were disappointed in Morbid Angel’s atrocity of a comeback album (anyone who says they weren’t is either lying to themselves or just being a contrary motherfucker) and/or got excited when you heard that Steve Tucker is back in Morbid Angel, look no further than Cruciamentum’s Charnel Passages for a twisted death metal fix until Tucker and Azagthoth unleash their next attack. This isn’t to say that Cruciamentum is a straight-up MA clone, but rather the same unearthly, eldritch vibe that ran through Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation also runs through the UK band’s debut.
Armed with seething, serpentine riffage and pummeling double bass, tracks such as “Tongues of Nightshade” and “Dissolution of Mortal Perception” are utterly bulldozing, but also strangely hypnotic and even catchy. This, combined with Cruciamentum’s doggedly oldschool mentality and knack for dynamic songwriting, make for an album that sounds both familiar and fresh at the same time. Much like the elder death metal bands they so obviously worship, Cruciamentum emphasize quality above all else, which in turn makes for a highly satisfying listening experience.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Cruciamentum’s approach to death metal couldn’t possibly be more different from Pissgrave’s, but both albums are thoroughly enjoyable, speaking to the extreme diversity and high level of craftsmanship that can be found within the genre’s current crop. With veteran bands like Nile, Krisiun, Hate Eternal and Cattle Decapitation releasing albums this year, it’s good to see death metal’s next generation stepping up their game.