Ominous Crucifix – Spell Of Damnation (2012) Review

What is it that we crave from death metal? An unbiased pummeling of the senses? Perhaps a showcasing of technical abilities? An overtly controversial stance, a warring of ideologies or maybe, fortuitously,  a burnishing of mental acuities? Elite death metal is, regardless of contrarians, an exemplar of decay, of the transition of substance into void. All that is and ever was lapses into nothingness, consigned to history if especially conspicuous but, of itself, ceasing to hold intrinsic value after its demise, in a relentless drive towards obscurity unwitnessed by blind stars. Death Metal attempts to deconstruct life to its barest essentials and in doing so seeks its true meaning through negation.

Ominous Crucifix employ the leisurely picked tremolo line throughout debut Spell Of Damnation to punctuate the futility of modern hyperactivity and restlessness of thought. Far from being appealing in any aesthetically pleasing sense, the Mexicans choose to transpose the ugliness of the style onto a more ponderous template, soaking the listener in the amniotic fluids of the genre’s birth pangs without the slightest recourse to levity. Each progression is deliberately stretched out to its logical conclusion over predictably 4/4 tempos; what at first seems ingenuous and amateurish gradually reveals a stately, unhurried grandeur and a comprehensive, self assured songwriting style. Ominous Crucifix understand the ethos behind death metal, grasp the will to dissolution, manifesting it through a steady eroding of being, in a gradual peeling back of the layers.

Songs, admittedly, melt into one another; the ideal way to appreciate this record is to consider it a monolithic whole. In fact, individual songs don’t hold much weight in this context. Much like The Chasm‘s last classic, Ominous Crucifix are plying a panoramic approach to death metal; while obviously lacking that band’s keen sense of dynamics, Spell Of Damnation eschews most genre trappings through an utter lack of pretense, maintaining a stubborn mid-pace in a reverb-heavy production that fosters a sense of movement, both internal and external, on a vast scale. Patterns tentatively explore minor expansions on central ideas before neatly reverting to type, giving these songs a well-rounded feel.

Ominous Crucifix‘s simple style will turn off plenty; much the irony that the band, in their own unassuming way, aspire to some of the loftier ideals death metal holds itself to.

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