Ah, Krisiun. Your militant drumming, battering riffs, and enraged vocals have earned you a place on quite a few of my “wake up the neighbors” playlists over the years. While calling you an institution may be a stretch, you’re certainly a band of workhorses, belching out no-bullshit death metal as a fraternal trio since 1990, and serving as a constant reminder that Brazil is more than just nice tushes, dense rainforests, and a Terry Gilliam film about a dystopian bureaucracy that would make FEMA shiver. After seven albums, you really hit your stride with 2008’s Southern Storm, a release that combined your classic rhythmic pummeling with some refreshing melodic sensibility. 2011 follow-up The Great Execution was likewise impressive, but that was four years ago – has a nonstop onslaught of touring dulled your edge, or will Forged in Fury keep the war machine steaming?
While the Joe Petagno artwork had me salivating, I’ll say outright that Fury is a tad by-the-numbers for Krisiun, and is best described as a combination of the sprawling chugs of Execution with the lead-friendly songwriting of Storm. Opener “Scars of the Hatred” (these guys are toe-to-toe with Napalm Death for best song titles) is downright noodly at first, sounding like a slowed version of Origin, before morphing back into the band we know: massive, lockstep riffing, underlaid by drumming that alternates between blasting and – my favorite trick – moments where the bass drum continues blasting while the snare performs stop-start battering in sync with the guitars, as employed on early highlight “Ways of Barbarism.” Later songs feature some reluctant ventures from this template, including the rapid and near-dissonant main riff and wailing leads of “Strength Forged in Fury,” the lumbering bassline and Seasons In the Abyss-style melody of requisite slow track “Soulless Impaler,” and the monumental chugs and squealing lead guitar of closer “Timeless Starvation.”
Unfortunately, Fury suffers some missteps that prevent it from being the creme-de-la-Krisiun I was hoping for, not the least of which is the long-windedness carried over from Execution. A death metal album needs to be damn good to be nearly 52 minutes long, and while much of the riffwork here has just the level of early Deicide savagery I’d expect from guitarist Moyses Kolesne, Fury’s second half also features several licks that alternate between mildly stale and “hey, isn’t that the same riff from AssassiNation?” Furthermore, Alex Camargo’s growls lack the potency and fullness of earlier releases, sounding more like Phil Anselmo attempting a Vader song, causing even acerbic lines like “mass murder is the new God’s will!” to leave me unmoved. Devoid of many “oh hell yeah!” moments, the songwriting also feels a tad “riff-salad” at times – one could easily transpose many of these licks from one track to another, with little disruption in flow.
Fortunately, Max Kolesne’s drumming is as tight and ferocious as always, and – thanks to Erik Rutan’s production – the album sounds downright marvelous. Nearly three decades since the genre’s inception, it seems we’ve finally learned how to produce modern death metal that sounds crushing while avoiding squishing the bass into oblivion. Alex’s rumbling basslines are a treat throughout, and while the DR is a tad low, it’s fitting for Krisiun – like the opening minutes of Bolt Thrower’s “World Eater” stretched over a discography, the group has always focused on conveying sheer force and might over chromatic atmosphere.
So, where does this leave us? If Fury is riff salad, it’s salad of the best sort, garnished by a dressing of more-than-capable instrumental performances, albeit with a few stale pieces of lettuce and some nose-wrinkling anchovies souring things a bit (representing the vocals, in this over-extended metaphor). As a band so often overshadowed by country-mates Sepultura and other modern death metal like Nile, Fury doesn’t up the ante enough for Krisiun to become the new saviors of the scene, but it is an enjoyable piece of chug-heavy death metal that refrains from tainting the band’s legacy. Lest we forget, this is still the band that wrote “Vicious Wrath” – and if nothing else, Forged in Fury proves that same blood is in there somewhere.