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First off, let me say that Crucifiction’s “Portals to the Beyond” is some of the sickest, filthiest, crushing old-school death metal revivalism I’ve heard lately, and I am very fucking pleased to own it.
With that off my chest, let’s take a closer look. I must mention that I was stoked after reading the golden sticker on the jewel case recommending this for fans of Morbid Angel, Incantation, Immolation and Suffocation—no brainer, I thought to myself, I love those bands. Featuring members of Goatvomit, Naer Mataron, Perdition Temple and Angelcorpse? A Greek superband then! Expectations were obviously through the roof, and was I not disappointed.
The first track kicks off furiously, introducing an excellent riff quickly accompanied by some powerful blasting. Hearing this song, two things stood out for me early on: the first thing was the filthy production, raw as red meat and heavy as Cthulhu’s six hundred and sixty six-ton ass. Forget the over-processed wankery death metal you see out there today; this blasphemous cacophony sounds like it came, forgive the overused statement, straight out the eighties, as if its being played in your black, vermin-infested basement.
The second thing that hit me hardest was the riffs—this album has plenty, and they’re all excellent. Much like their fellow countrymen Dead Congregation, Crucifiction have the rare ability of musicianship to produce memorable riff after memorable riff, making each song stand out. The solos sound deliciously evil too (“The Downward Journey”, "Threshold to the Lethargy of Stars"), though they don't come as entirely frequent as they could have. All this amounts to some seriously savage ear pummeling, but there are a number of slower sections for variety. These can be either heavy as Cthulhu’s aforementioned ass (“On the Wings of Hellspawn”, "Threshold to the Lethargy of Stars") or rather boring when they’re not done right (“Spheres of Extinction”).
The drumming sounds great; nothing terribly above average but Lefteris’ blasting is perfect for the music. Bass is decent too, with several sick solos spread throughout the album ("The Scourging Wreath" and "Wrecked into Oblivion", for example). The vocals, however, are another stand-out of this album; you can forget gurgles and ridiculous farm animal noises, because Solonas might as well be spewing venom. He delivers every line with such snarling hatred that he sounds like a caged beast. Fuck, it sounds like his throat should be burning with the kind of thing he’s pulling off. A very refreshing vocal performance that stands out from the sea of cookie-monsters.
Lastly, I’d like to comment on the component of the album that doesn’t affect my actual score, namely the lyrics and artwork. My allusion to Cthulhu was not coincidental; Crucifiction are sure to please any metalhead with a hard-on for Lovecraft’s mythology with their (surprisingly accurate) songs about the ‘Ancient Ones’. The lyrics of “On the Wings of Hellspawn” are even taken from Lovecraft’s source material, a little detail that really adds to charm to the experience. The artwork by George “Grin” Prasinis is brilliant and perfectly captures both the music and the lyrical content of the album—that extradimensional monstrosity laying waste and spreading cosmic horror is worthy of this monster of an album.
So, to conclude:
Pros—Memorable riffs, brutal vocals, filthy raw production (lyrics and artwork are an added bonus).
Cons—Only that slow sections can get tiresome.
Standout tracks: “The Downward Journey”, “They Come in Slumber”, “Perennial Hecatomb”, “Pillars of Ancient Darkness”, "Beyond the Sacrificial Chambers", "Wrecked into Oblivion".
I highly recommend “Portals to the Beyond” to all fans of old-school death metal, even more so if you're into Lovecraftian themes. I eagerly await this band's next output.