Two years ago, I passed on a little Chilean black/thrash band named Invocation Spells. Not because they, or their third full-length record, The Flame of Hate, sucked, but because I already had a handful of promos to prepare for review. So, when I saw their name pop up on the Almighty AMG Promo Sheet again, I knew I’d have to check them out. Though this little two-piece outfit ain’t the next generation of black/thrash, their Aura Noir-meets-Darkthrone approach—with the aggression of a second-wave black metal outfit—is a good fit for the genre. From 2014’s Unholy Blasphemies to this year’s Spread Cruelty in the Abyss, Invocation Spells have released one solid black/thrash record after another. None are short of chaotic riffage, none exceed the thirty-five-minute mark, and all feature a mix of the viciousness of Aggressor (Aura Noir), Erik Danielsson (Watain), and Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone) at the mic. Spread Cruelty in the Abyss comes with a few new twists and turns for the band, but there aren’t many secrets in this Chilean cemetery. If you’ve ever heard this duo before, you know exactly what’s in store for you.
Like most bands in the genre, Spread Cruelty in the Abyss keeps the raw qualities in the mix and lets the vocals reverberate down an abandoned railway tunnel. Yet, this new outing feels a touch cleaner than their past works. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still as filthy as a 400-pound sow rolling in its own shit. But, you can hear more on this release than, say, on Unholy Blasphemies. The band also pushed their sound beyond the debut’s thrash-happy classics, like “On the Shadows” and “Christ Bleeding on the Cross.” First, with the Darkthrone influences of Descendent the Black Throne‘s “The Revenge of the Serpents.” Then, by packing endless riff changes into Descendent‘s closer, “The End of Time,” and The Flame of Hate‘s “Ride the Fire.” Spread Cruelty is most like its immediate predecessor in sound and adventurousness, but it has many of its own surprises.
For instance, the odd moments of “Spread Cruelty” and “Obscure and Evil.” While there are plenty of Darkthrone riffs and vocal patterns on the album, “Spread Cruelty” takes them to the max. “Old Rites” has that Darkthrone groove and Nocturno Culto vocal presence (not to mention some of the heaviest and thrashiest riffs of the album), while “Spread Cruelty” uses clean vocals right up Fenriz’s alley. It’s a weird addition but it makes a somewhat forgettable song into something memorable. And then, just to fuck with you, “Obscure and Evil” follows with a surprising, fiddle-y intro. So surprising that I thought my media player skipped to a song that I would never own. After almost making me wet myself, the song unloads crates of blackened tremolos and closes with slower-paced, Watain-like melodics. It might have one of the oddest intros but it has one of the best outros on the album.
As for the rest of the album, it pretty much goes as expected. Opener “Ruins of Cemetery” topples even the strongest headstones with a combination of black/thrash chugs and a galloping transition that sounds like a black metal take on Metallica‘s “The Four Horsemen.” Then there’s “Victims of Doom,” which comes at you with lightning-quick picking and Immortal-esque guitar harmonizations, while closer “From the Graves” gives the record a Gorgorothian second-wave character. All three, along with “Old Rites,” are not only the album’s top tier but also some of the band’s best material.
Spread Cruelty in the Abyss is a fitting follow-up to The Flame of Hate. Delivering some of the band’s most aggressive and in-your-face material, with a digestible length and a good flow. With four albums in five years, Invocation Spells is one of the more consistent bands in the genre. That said, they aren’t going to win any awards for creativity. Or convince naysayers that the style is worth the listen. But Invocation Spells doesn’t give any fucks about that. But, for those that do give one or two fucks about such things, Spread Cruelty in the Abyss may not be for you. But, for those that need your thrash bloody and your desecrations mucky, check this out.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Suicide Records/Hells Headbangers Records
Websites: invocationspells.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/invocationspells
Releases Worldwide: April 17th, 2018 (Suicide Records) and July 27th, 2018 (Hells Headbanger Records)