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LISTEN: Debut Cruciamentum Album
Dean Brown , August 25th, 2015 13:00

Six years on their first material surfacing, Cruciamentum are now ready to unleash their debut album; stream it in full below

Fans of underground death metal have been feverishly awaiting a full-length debut from Cruciamentum ever since the UK-based band’s lauded cassette demo, Convocation of Crawling Chaos, spun heads back in 2009. But while six years may seem like a lifetime to wait for a studio album in the digital age, the band led by vocalist/guitarist D.L. were kept busy creating a well-received EP (2011’s Engulfed in Desolation), playing shows and festivals (both in Europe and in the US), and taking what turned out to be a short hiatus.

Possessing the same air of magick and malevolence that made Grave Miasma’s long-awaited 2013 full-length, Odori Sepulcrorum, such an immersive experience (both bands share members), Charnel Passages is unquestionably a brutal return from one of Britain’s best death metal acts. Yet it’s much more than just manically focused on sonic destruction: it’s also extremely dynamic, shifting between tempos, moods and odd time signatures more often than the demo and EP before it. Although plenty of weight has been placed upon slower, atmospheric sojourns – similar to their British doom-death forefathers in Paradise Lost and Anathema – Cruciamentum still unleash torrent after torrent of syncopated hellfire à la Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower and Immolation. The swarming blackened riffs, jackhammer blasts ‘n’ grooves, cacophonous guitar solos (much improved here – see: ‘Tongues of Nightshade’ and ‘Rites to the Abduction of Essence’) and guttural barks of their earlier work are all-consuming on tracks such as ‘Dissolution of Mortal Perception’ and ‘Collapse’ when combined with doom-death sections, laden with sinister textures courtesy of greater use of keyboards.

With such a clear understanding of dynamic extreme metal song craft, Cruciamentum have the one essentiality that many of their murky peers lack: the ability to write memorable songs without weakening their core style of death metal, built upon strong, discernible arrangements and skilled pacing. Amongst other variables, that’s what made the likes of Altars of Madness, Dawn of Possession, Transcendence Into the Peripheral and Onward to Golgotha death metal milestones. Only time and circumstance will tell if Charnel Passages will ascend to the same revered status. However, one thing certain right now is that: while Cruciamentum are beholden to diabolical old school values, there’s a nightmarish vision of death metal’s future cast across their impressive first full-length.

Charnel Passages is streaming in full above and out on September 4.