Charnel Passages Album Review
Profound Lore Records
Released September 4, 2015
Genre: Death Metal
Death metal can be stale and predictable. There are so many bands that don’t even attempt to sound like anything but a 90’s Floridian forefather of the controversial genre. However, there are some bands that do the formula such justice that it warrants praise instead of complaints. UK death-metallers Cruciamentum don’t totally reinvent the wheel, but they do a more than satisfactory job of delivering a familiar sound with a signature but slight twist.
Charnel Passages is full of structurally ever-changing songs and galloping riffs, not unlike many death metal bands that came before, but Cruciamentum does not succumb to peer pressure by adopting the Entombed-style buzz saw guitar tone. Rather, they approach the style with an eerie edge. When the riffs aren’t menacingly fast or urgent, the guitars and basslines are very moody in a classic horror movie soundtrack way. Guitar solos are scarce and evanescent, but there is enough tremolo bar abuse to tickle a shred metal nerd’s fancy. Keys aren’t frequent, but they add a spooky atmosphere to each song. Drums are standard death metal drums that are natural sounding even though they are blisteringly fast, but the cymbal work is occasionally too damn tasty (see the song “Tongues Of Nightshade”). The vocal performance is the only aspect of Cruciamentum that doesn’t stand out. It’s a gruff growl that gets the job done and nothing else can be said about it.
The songs on this debut full-length are usually pretty long, averaging around six minutes in length, but they don’t follow a verse-chorus pattern in the slightest. Songs are winding and never stay on one idea or riff for too long. This may be too wishy washy for neophyte death metal fans, but veterans will appreciate the pacing. No song drags on for too long on this 44-minute journey into darkness, which is nice in a world where albums are getting longer and longer. Even though some songs have better riffs than others, and all of the songs are at least good, they start to blend into each other after awhile. No song sticks out stylistically amidst the blast beats, fiery riffs and ominous keys. The only exception is the stellar “Piety Carved From Flesh,” which starts out at a faster tempo and with more urgency than the other songs on Charnel Passages. The lack of curveballs from song to song prevents this from being a fantastic aural experience, although it is a very good experience.
Cruciamentum are definitely a band to look out for in the future, as this debut shows much potential for the future to come.
FAV TRACK: The Conquered Sun, Tongues of Nightshade, Piety Carved From Flesh
LEAST FAV TRACK: Dissolution of Mortal Perception