Pulverised Records sure know how to sell an album! Crucifyre‘s promo pack is stacked up the wazoo with perfectly sharpened, shiny meat hooks that’ll slide with ease into that soft fleshy bit just under your chin. And just think, while you’re hanging around at attention, Crucifyre will assault you mercilessly with their second full length release, Black Magic Fire. Titbits like album art from computer-game graphic designer Stefan Hansson, that the band is made up of members from Morbid, Crematory and Repugnant and that Hank Shermann (Mercyful Fate, ex-Volbeat) contributed on “One And One Is One” all give that prickly feeling that you’re on the verge of something great. Is Black Magic Fire the next logical step from Crucifye‘s début (Infernal Earthly Divine) and can this Swedish band of misfits give new life to satanic death metal?
Okay, I may have set the bar a little high for these chaps. They don’t re-brand anything, but they do rip up some corpses, rape a few nuns and fuck some priests pretty much as promised by the great and the almighty at Pulverised. The band certainly grabs at a veritable feast of influences, having a blast kicking out a mix of blackened death thrash, broken up with oddly tasty doom, that I think Crucifyre immerse you in just to mess with you and leave you disorientated. “Apocalypse Whore” opens the album with a menacing feel and a lone guitar marching its own solitary path. The pace is slow, the mood isolated and the instrumentation repetitive and technically simple. The opening of “Apocalypse Whore” carries some female vocals, but they’re short lived. A minute or so into the track all hell breaks loose and you’re head to head with melodic Scandinavian style death metal with definite hints of Possessed.
Erik “Tormentor” Sahlström lives up to his name. His vocal style is unlike the norm for death, rather adopting a thrash metal style that in “Faces Of Death (His Satanic Shadow)” brought to mind Mille Petrozza (Kreator), and in “Pentagram Palms” exacerbated by the lyrical tempo, reminded me of Thomas Gabriel Fischer (Celtic Frost, Triptykon, Hellhammer). His style is less guttural, being clear enough that you can pick up on a large portion of the lyrics which both works and doesn’t. Crucifyre come up with some catchy lyrics that sit well with me, like “by a rusty chain, you shall be my slave. With a rusty shovel, I dig your grave,” but where they drop the ball is in repeating the same lines to death and then a couple of extra times just to be really sure you you never want to hear them again… I’m very tempted to count the number of times I heard “black magic fire” repeated in the title track. This lazy song-writing is carried through from Infernal Earthly Divine so if it pissed on your battery then, these cats haven’t changed their leopard print underwear and you can consider yourself warned.
Like their earlier release, sound effects are present on Black Magic Fire and they work well with extras like the Phantom of the Opera style organ in “Baphomet’s Revenge” and the music box that leads you through the darkness at the start of “Faces Of Death (His Satanic Shadow).” Considering the make-up of Crucifyre, I’m somewhat surprised at the instrumentation and what feels like a lack of adventure and risk-taking throughout the album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all very well played and executed. There’s enough room to show off twisted moments like TG’s and / or Urban Skytt’s soloing in “Pentagram Palms” and their death race in “Baphomet’s Revenge” persistently and slowly weaves their curse. But for the most part Black Magic Fire is a patched together jaunt that we’ve heard before from the likes of Dissection (“Anneliese”), Satan’s Wrath (“Through the Darkness”), Celtic Frost (“Pentagram Palms”) and even the Rolling Stones (“Black Magic Fire”) weren’t safe.
Besides lazy lyrics and dallying around mimicking what’s been done before, Black Magic Fire suffers from hanging around too long. The album is made up of a mix of tracks ranging from just shy of the three minute mark to slogs that go on well past their sell-by date at more than six minutes. Believe me, six minutes feels like an eternity when you’re hearing the same line over and over again. Keep it short dammit! Black Magic Fire tries hard to earn a spot on your playlist, but it’s just trying a little too hard.