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Cruciamentum – Obsidian Refractions

cruciamentum – obsidian refractions


Six long years since the band’s last sign of life and even eight years after the release of the debut album, Cruciamentum finally returns to the fold. Just like their genre contemporaries of Dead Congregation and Grave Miasma these guys never seem to be in much of a hurry. Whether it is because of the many productional tasks of Cruciamentum main man Dan Lowndes or for the band’s rather complex brand of Death Metal, might forever remain unclear, but at least we have something new to wrap our heads around.

From its very start ‘Obsidian Refractions’ doesn’t only sound thoroughly recognizable, with its opening track that shares the title of their debut album, it also literally harkens back to this album’s predecessor. Yet, where I was extremely impressed by the band’s ‘Convocation Of Crawling Chaos’ demo tape from 2009 and in a bit of lesser extent their ‘Engulfed In Desolation’ 12” EP, I had a lot more difficulties in getting into the ‘Charnel Passages’ debut album from 2015.

Possibly the shorter playing time of the demo and 12” EP were playing a part in the more effective way the band was able to convey their Death Metal. This new album has a bit of the same thing happening, while ‘Obsidian Refractions’ definitely is a step up from ‘Charnel Passages’ when it comes to its intricate ways of forging the already complex Death Metal, it still gives me an undefinable feeling. The lengthy tracks, all clocking above the five minute mark, with one outlier even checking out at over 10 minutes, again challenges the listener to a great extent.

The label presents this album as being their best work to date, “advancing and overpowering”, were the exact words. For sure the band took a good step forward when it comes to the overall sound and effectiveness, yet I cannot shake off the feeling that they were really trying to outdo their previous work but lost themselves in the process. ‘Obsidian Refractions’ sometimes feel like a disjointed collection of riffs and musical ideas that once forged together lead to unnecessary long tracks. Profound Lore Records also placed the band to the current day Death Metal landscape, for sure Cruciamentum belongs to the best bands in this very niche of the genre, but I never felt that they were up there on the same level as Dead Congregation or Grave Miasma. And, frankly, this album didn’t change any of that. On the contrary even, sometimes the music sounds a bit forced, as if they were deliberately looking for complex and unorthodox structures, contrarian leads or sudden breaks. The natural and pure energy of the band’s earliest recordings seems long gone and while ‘Obsidian Refractions’ is nowhere an album to ignore or discard, it really feels like Cruciamentum is losing to its competition.


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