2012 started nicely for extreme metal, with the release of the excellent Horrendous album, The Chills. That, coupled with the recent surge in extreme metal bands from Mexico left me with high hopes as I first listened to Mexican Ominous Crucifix's debut full length album, The Spell of Damnation. The awesome band name and band logo, coupled with the beautiful album artwork certainly worked well in grabbing my attention as well, further pushing up the expectations for the music on the album.
This has unfortunately worked against the benefits of the band as the music that the band presents on The Spell of Damnation fails to live up to the first impressions that the band has created with the imagery of the album. The album opens nicely though, with a slow build up on Third Day Resurrection, and brings listeners to the scene of a city ravaged by war with the almost depressing music yet containing a somewhat martial atmosphere, before the band introduces themselves with a groovy death metal riff, and this is when things start to go downhill, with the second half of the track sounding almost uninspired and aimless. However, with the end of the first track, the next track Putrid Purity begins promisingly, with the introduction of more aggressive riffs and seemingly more focussed songwriting present. The individual musicians on the track are certainly capable on their instruments though, with guitarists Crucifier and Lord Dweller easily executing the riffs on songs and even litter the album with some face-ripping guitar solos like on Defiling the Altars of an Absent God and Repulsive Sanctification of the Absurd, backed by the rhythm section of bassist Omega Tyrant and drummer The Executioner. Vocalist Rubens the Mercurial Herald even sounds somewhat like Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg.
So what is it exactly that makes this album a disappointing one?
For the most part of the album, Ominous Crucifix travels at a mid-pace to a slow-pace, and while this does not make a death metal album a bad album, the band's repeated usage of same riffs and transitions like on Putrid Purity end up boring listeners, and the track even runs for more than 7 minutes, easily overstaying its welcome after around 5 minutes and could have been better off as a shorter and more succinct track. It is also on longer tracks like these that display the flaws in the band's songwriting, sounding as if the band were unsure which direction it wants to take, and drones on aimlessly. Most of the tracks even make use of similar formula in terms of the choice of riffs and execution, causing songs to start sounding more and more similar to each other as the album progresses. Furthermore, even the supposedly more aggressive moments on the album fail to really bring out the fury of the band, like on Primitive Sin, where the trem-picked guitar riffs are backed by considerably tamed drumming, resulting in a track that feels somewhat disjointed and incoherent.
The bands do have some good ideas that are present on the album though. For example, the sample on the intro of Defiling the Altars of an Absent God (which also happens to be one of the better tracks on the album) provides a refreshing moment and displays the depravity and perversity of the band. Secular Omens of Doom also manages to come across as sufficiently dark and heavy, fitting to the track title and blasphemous themes of the band. Unfortunately, moments such as these are few and come in too late in the album and could have served their purpose better if put earlier on in the album. That said though, the ability to write such tracks is also evidence of the band's potential, so while The Spell of Damnation could be a weak effort, it would be interesting to see what the band puts out in the future.
Originally written for http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/