Emerging from the still relatively undiscovered wealth of strong metal bands within Mexico for most, Ominous Crucifix are set to release their debut full length album The Spell of Damnation. Offering up invasive slabs of crushing spiteful death metal the album crawls and festers within the senses to give full satisfaction with a bountiful clutch of arresting black melodies, intrusive riffs, and ear intimidating grooves.
Formed in 2007 Ominous Crucifix have steadily created and moulded their black rancid sound starting with their first release, demo Decadent Religious Archetype in 2008. The following year saw a split release On This Land Evil Dwells and their EP Relics of a Dead Faith. Since then until now the band has been relatively quiet. Released via FDA Rekotz, a label coming up with quite a few striking gems lately, The Spell of Damnation is a statement of a band on the rise and of a group of musicians more than competent in bringing forth death metal that is steeped in old school intent and sound without resorting to simply resurrecting previous flavours from influences.
The Spell of Damnation is harsh and malicious with a raw production which though complimenting the intent throws up negatives. One senses this approach is deliberate from the band bring out and intensity the decayed and festering malevolence within the songs, an occult lined abhorrence of religion that veins the music. The album throws up essences of the likes of Obituary, Vallenfyre, and Asphyx but the resulting creation is certainly something distinct to Ominous Crucifix.
The album starts on an impressive opening in ‘Third Day Resurrection’, an initially synth led emotive piece punctuated with shouts of ‘I think God is Dead…’ There is an ominous bell like resonance giving warning before the track unveils itself with mesmeric heavy riffs and teasing guitars. A relentless grind slices with stabs of urgent intrusive guitar consuming the ear from the fingers of Crucifier and Lord Dweller whilst vocalist Rubens the Mercurial Herald spews gut based grizzled growls from the deepest pit. Guitars dominate the track once it is in full flow making the bass of Omega Tyrant hard to pick out though that is soon remedied in following track ‘Putrid Purity’. His growling meaty predatory basslines crawl and stalk as guitars rampage through the ear. Bringing forward a dirty protrusive grind the track is a constant battering without venturing into abusive aggression. The drums and vocals carry a hollow resonance to them throughout the album which again is suggested as deliberate but only really works with Reuben’s delivery, adding a dark menace and haunting atmosphere. For the drums it is more a distraction and is less agreeable, the beats from The Executioner feeling disengaged from the main body of the songs.
Though the whole release is a solid agreeable brute three consecutive tracks in addition to the opener stand out and show the ability and promise of Ominous Crucifix. ‘Defiling the Altars of an Absent God’ starts with a film sample of a woman being forced to cite The Lord’s Prayer whilst being flogged. Disturbing especially when she slips into silence as the manic flogging continues it leads in an equally dark and wicked track with grooves and riffs that consume eagerly. Again the drums feel separate but the song has more than enough depth and technical creativity on show to draw attention away. ‘Secular Omens of Doom’ takes over with even more intensity and creativity. There is a stronger diversity within the song than on anywhere else, the guitars impressively exploring their realm within the heavy blanket of aggressive intensity. Without breaking into solos and indulgence the track is refreshing and a contrast to the more direct straight forward death metal tracks.
‘Church of Death’ though only a brief almost interlude type track is the other highlight. Haunting with a dark siren voice sinisterly beckoning amongst the crushing riffs and sounds of warfare it conjures visions instantly adding to what is a fine album. Despite its shortfalls The Spell of Damnation is a strongly satisfying album and certainly should be checked out by all death metal fans