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Tonight, in the drums, Herbie the Beetle! - 83%

Napero, November 10th, 2005

Sacred Crucifix is a historically interesting local rarity. They were founded around the time of the short-lived finnish thrash explosion of the late 80's, but didn't release anything official at that time. And still, somehow, they have survived to the modern day to release a full-length. They have been on hold twice, practically split-up, but still managed to pull the things together and make an album. That is an amazing achievement. Very few bands can do that 16 years after forming, and even if other finnish thrash bands from the same era and region are currently active, they are more reunions after a decade and a half, and have new line-ups different from the original bands of the late 80's.

Sacred Crucifix hammer their own mixture of thrash and death in a straightforward manner, strafing the edge between the two, but leaning heavily to the direction of old-school death. There are tempo changes, but not too radical or too often, and as death or thrash metal they are definitely medium-paced at best. The sound is quite heavy, battering, and a bit heavy-handed, but certainly not ham-fisted. Their own brutality is of the "pretty fast for a tracked bulldozer" kind, not that of a gory speeding train or a burst-firing heavy machine-gun. The cover art of the album actually gives an idea of the music's atmosphere. By the way, I especially like the tank turret on the right wing position of the excavator. T-35 auxaliary turret, anyone?

The songs are an obvious collection of stuff they have written during the garage years; some titles can be found on their demo track listings from 1989...90. The passing of time can be heard in the detectable progression of the songwriting style, if you know what to look for, but for the most part Sacred Crucifix has stayed loyal to their own original idea, and in the end it's impossible to tell the different years apart with any level of certainty. This is more like a re-recorded "best of" album, actually, and there are no weak tracks; if a band has had 16 years of time to write material and then finally a chance to distill the good stuff out of the pile, there's no need to leave any discards on the album. On the other hand, there are no sing-along hits, either.

The sound and production are good all the way through the album. The overall sound is rather heavy, and the guitars have been mixed nicely on top of everything. They are the fastest component on the album, with some rapid tremolo picking. Miku's vocals are low growls with a bit of very coarse whispering thrown in, and his bass can be heard well enough. The only musical thing that gets on my nerves is the occasional overuse of the double bass drum. When overdone enough, at a boring, steady pace, it makes the drumming sound like a 70's Volkswagen running at 50 mph in the background. Someone, steal one of the pedals, please. Thanks.

The album is worth getting, if you are an old-school deathmetalhead. The style is a soundwise modernized version of old death metal, and despite the nice production, it's impossible to confuse Sacred Crucifix with the thousands of new death bands formed in the recent years by relative youngsters. This album has been recorded with loving dedication and the weighty experience of almost two decades. That must be respected.

If you ever have a chance to see Sacred Crucifix live, don't miss it. Just seeing Miku live is worth it: he plays barefoot, and keeps his microphone quite low. Currently it is reportedly at 115 cm from the ground, but according to Miku's own words, "it just keeps crawling downwards over the years." If they keep up touring for two decades more, he can probably start singing prone.