The internet is all around us. People can hear an unfamiliar song, click a button on their phone, and be told what that track is in mere seconds. To the younger me, that would’ve been sorcery! Seeing someone taking a picture of their food at a restaurant isn’t weird now, because it’s understood that they’re going to apply a fancy sepia filter and instantly post it online to be viewed by legions of people getting real tired of their shit. Amazing! I took advantage of precisely none of the limitless information constantly available to me when listening to Blasphemic Cruelty’s latest EP Crucible of the Infernum, and instead uttered verbatim what the venerable Al Kikuras said in his initial impression of the latest Perdition Temple record: Holy Shit, this sounds like Angelcorpse.
Unsurprisingly, the reason for this is the involvement of Gene Palubicki and drummer Gina Ambrosio who has no formal recording credits with Angelcorpse but was a member in 2006. Blasphemic Cruelty play a hybrid of death and thrash, one which takes the Angelcorpse and Perdition Temple mould and mixes in a bit of thrash’s more extreme elements. Naturally it leans much more towards the deathy end of the spectrum, but the influence of Sodom and to a lesser degree Slayer are obvious and welcome, though you definitely won’t be mistaking this for a straight-up thrash record or even standard death-thrash. Think of thrash as a spice medley on the meat of an Angelcorpse and you’ll get the idea.
If Perdition Temple turned your crank, Blasphemic Cruelty likely will too. Ares Kingdom’s Alex Blume employs a growling bark that is the cudgel to Palubicki’s riffing scythe, bringing a raw element to the perfectly played and absurdly tight riffs that nourishes the old-school thrash aspects. “Icons of Revolt” sees Palubicki momentarily dip into full-on Show No Mercy worship underneath a killer Azagthoth-meets-Hanneman lead, and if that doesn’t get you a more than a little excited I’ve got some unfortunate news for you regarding your presence in The Hall. The best merger of Angelcorpse death and prime-era thrash is “From Crypts of Bloodlust” due to Palubicki scaling back the fretboard theatrics in the riffs a tad to tap into the more primal energy of thrash metal whilst still keeping his signature sound very much intact. The drop to a thrash-chug here is also a good headbanging moment, even if it is remarkably close to the “Agent Orange” intro.
Crucible of the Infernum is not without its flaws, however. The band’s straight take on Sodom’s “The Crippler” is the strongest offering here, which isn’t exactly a feather in Blasphemic Cruelty‘s cap being that it’s Sodom’s achievement. The plentiful blast beats employed by Ambrosio are impressive on a technical level, but they downplay the interesting thrash influence in favour of a “slightly different Angelcorpse” vibe. This carries over to the structure of the originals as well, with Angelcorpse and Perdition Temple’s full-bore death metal being the order of the day, making the comparisons to stronger material by Palubicki’s other bands inevitable and diminishing Crucible of the Infernum’s impact in the process. The Tempter’s Victorious is better by a noticeable margin, so 2015 has already yielded a superior record with a similar sound featuring the same main composer. While this doesn’t make Blasphemic Cruelty a wash by any means, it doesn’t make a case for its necessity in your rotation either.
Crucible of the Infernum has provided me with good metal, but I don’t like it as much as Angelcorpse, the criminally underrated Ares Kingdom, or Perdition Temple. The production sounds very similar to The Tempter’s Victorious due to Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez manning the boards again, but Blume’s bass is a touch dirtier than Gabriel Gozainy’s and Ambrosio’s drums are slightly roomier than Ron Parmer’s, the latter likely explaining the difference in DR scores between the two. Blasphemic Cruelty will sate your hunger if you long for more of Palubicki’s signature style, but you’ll probably wish the band bolstered the thrash aspects to set themselves further apart from Palubicki’s other better projects.