Cruentus – Fossilized Review

There I am, standing on the loading dock of the AMG Southwest Headquarters. Steel‘s dump truck has arrived again, though forty-seven hours late. Chipping away on the doors reads “Angry Metal Guy Promo Dump.” The truck backs toward the pit, the filth on the windows so great only a silhouette of the gorilla appears behind them. The bed pitches back violently, distributing a fresh layer to the festering pile baking in the sun since 2014. With each delivery, the new layer crushes the previous dumps into oblivion. The rattlesnake and scorpion problem is getting worse, making it more and more difficult to retrieve a promo. But Steel doesn’t care. As the truck drives away, I see a hairy middle finger emerge from the window. I stare up into the desert sun, already exhausted from the thought of searching the pit for something to review. Covered in sweat and reeling from the hangover induced by the hourly AMG hobo wine IVs, I approach the pit. I close my eyes, anticipating the bite and venom in my veins, and grab the first promo off the top. It reads: CruentusFossilized – black/thrash metal.

After putting the needle back into my arm and settling in front of my trusty Commodore 64 word processor, I begin the ritual. Having never heard of this Swedish duo, I begin the procedure as I always do: I start at the beginning. After releasing a couple of demos in ’98/’99, the band seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth. In 2020, they returned with their official debut full-length, Night Embrace Me. In it, I find ten tracks of fast and mid-paced, Aura Noir-esque black/thrash that includes vicious vocals and occasional Dissection-like melodics. What makes it unique is that it sounds like 20 years of riffs forced into a gallon jug. Each song contains endless riff and mood changes, leaving my aching head spinning by the end.

Fossilized is no different. It tries for that old-school, low-fi production, which I, of course, love. But, being highly dynamic, the instrumentation is far easier to differentiate than in the old days. The opening instrumental, “Ascending,” is rich with crisp drums, bright guitars, and a gorgeous, melodic ending. And the dynamics continue when all hell breaks loose with “The Catalyst.” The guitars swirl around like a storm of that black shit from Prometheus while the vocals alternate between shrieks and low growls. It’s a busy, four-minute song. But, for all its ferocity, “Primordial Reprisal” is a monster. The closer begins with a nasty, mid-paced riff and overlapping vocals before releasing wild tremolos that charge down the fretboard. Then, it finally settles into a closing, thrash march.

The best of the bunch combines all Cruentus‘ elements. Specifically “Averted Reality” and “The Lost Ones.” The latter track takes cues from “The Catalyst,” blasting out a nasty black metal intro before transitioning from one riff to another. These riff changes include a pavement-cracking guitar/drum combo, a midsection thrash attack, and a melodic, Dissection-esque fury of tremolos and drum work. “Averted Reality” is a constant build blanketed in melodic atmospheres. It has various stop-start moments that rebuild the song, including a touch of reverberated clean guitars. More than any other song on Fossilized, the drums rule the roost, leading the charge from slower moments to a brutal, black metal strike. Then, everything collapses, unleashing Dissection/Watain melodics that even one-up “The Lost Ones.”

Fossilized is a diverse collection of influences1 that takes advantage of every riff the band can shove into its concise songs. While most songs deliver their desired expectations, “Prey” leaves men on the base. It has impressive tension, but it refuses to climax. And, though “Doldrums” has equally impressive drum work to “Averted Reality,” it meanders aimlessly. But these minor issues are only noticeable because of the strong songs surrounding them.

That said, Fossilized ensures you get your money’s worth. It’s brimming with riffs, stellar performances, and dynamics that’ll shame most of this year’s prog entries. While the band stays true to the Scandinavian character of black metal, they aren’t afraid to toy with old-school thrashy builds and melodic flashes of beauty. I, for one, hope this duo continues to release music. They have great chemistry and deliver music that makes it worth stepping into the snake pit.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Kvlt und Kaos Productions | Bandcamp2
Websites: cruentus1.bandcamp.com3 |
Releases Worldwide: July 15th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. As diverse as you can get with this genre.
  2. Click here to findĀ Fossilized.
  3. Click here to findĀ Night Embrace Me.
« »