Qrixkuor – Poison Palinopsia

I didn’t choose this. This album I had no intent to cover. But, thanks to a contract I signed under duress, swearing myself to temporary servitude under one green, be-grilled Kermit impersonator, I am here reviewing a random record of his choosing. Lo, here I be, with UK trio Qrixkuor (pronounced “Trix-are-for-kids,” I believe) and their debut opus Poison Palinopsia. Two tracks. Forty-eight minutes and change. This is going to be one weird, wild ride.

You might be thinking, “Gee-willikers, Ken, this seems like it could be pretentious and ‘edgy’.” Prepare to be fucking right and heckin’ mistaken, because while their delivery system is as artsy-fartsy as they come, Qrixkuor’s sole intent remains to churn your malleable body into smooth butter ‘neath ye olde steel-toed boots of old school death metal. Guitarist S. (yep, it’s another one of those) spews an unreal concoction of swaggering riffs amongst a whirling vortex of sinewy leads and dissonant tremolos, while bassist VK lays down a slimy undercurrent writhing with muscle as drummer DBH reigns in the chaos with mighty rips of thunder and lightning. Poison Palinopsia blooms with the drama of vintage horror as well, implementing raw strings and horns in measured doses across the runtime.

As there are only two songs spanning Poison Palinopsia, there are no conventional album “highlights” to speak of. “Serpentine Susurrus—Mother’s Abomination” consists of two distinct acts, however, bisected by a trippy string section that evokes major Psycho vibes. Similarly, “Recrudescent Malevolence—Mother’s Illumination” splits into two segments by way of orchestral interruption, albeit much more closely divided than in the opener. In this manner, the record feels more like four twelve-minute songs than two twenty-four minute songs. Writing this way not only aids in overall album flow and momentum, but makes it easier to locate the album’s best moments. The first half of “Serpentine Susurrus” is particularly crushing, roiling with violent riffs and debilitating rhythms. This segment also wields the sharpest hooks on Poison Palinopsia, which should attract any audience to explore the more dissonant and complex second act. Swirling solos fly ever more chaotic as “Serpentine Susurrus” unfolds, exponentially increasing the level of anxiety and morbid curiosity this music manifests in the hearts of its victims. Yet, everything blends smoothly, the disparate parts moving betwixt one another in grotesque harmony as clashing progressions interact with carnal fecundity.

“Recrudescent Malevolence” is equally well conceived, thrashing and blasting cool riffs and infernal leads into the world with little regard for the things they destroy. Oriented towards dissonance more so than the first track, “Recrudescent Malevolence” by its nature resists memorization, which could be considered a detractor to quality. In this case, I’d argue that memorability takes the bench whereas musical storytelling and compositional complexity move to the fore, raw emotional response in its audience the primary goal. It’s primal, ephemeral and intense, leaving no room left for the synapses to keep good records. But like all recreational activities pursued by humans, the best experiences instill an instinctual drive to return, an addicting dopamine response that needs no explanation, only satiation. Poison Palinopsia’s closing epic curates for its audience one such experience.

Considering this is only their debut, Qrixkuor amazes in more ways than one, yet that amazement is not unconditional. An assortment of small moments on both tracks require tightening and trimming to maximize their impact. The second half of “Serpentine Susurrus” is a prime example; it takes far too long to get moving after the brief orchestral intermission gives way to more death. The process of renewed acceleration is not so sluggish as to be frustrating, but that initial ramp does exceed my usual tolerance for anticipation in this genre. As for “Recrudescent Malevolence,” the biggest issue involves the relative lack of sharp hooks. Riffs devastate and demolish just as effortlessly as in track one, but here they don’t offer the additional benefit of lighting a fire under my ass like the best riffs ought to. Impressive though the musicianship and composition may be, nothing beats that motivating adrenaline rush brought about by one killer hook shoehorned where you’d least expect it, and I felt slightly underwhelmed by the second song’s inability to provide that thrill.

All critiques aside, Qrixkuor knocked it out of the park, delivering a mightily immersive acid trip of horrific, soul-shriveling death metal. Engaging on both a technical and artistic front, Poison Palinopsia refuses to relinquish the power it holds over my mind, its otherworldly presence consistently resurfacing to my consciousness and pulling me back into its hellish world. You would do well to take my hand and follow me there.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: facebook.com/qrixkuor | qrixkuordeath.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: July 9th, 20211

Show 1 footnote

  1. The release now appears pushed back to August 13th.
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