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Approach with caution - 78%

gasmask_colostomy, October 7th, 2016

Sometimes an album has a good story related to it that makes it stand out in your mind. For Krisiun's Southern Storm, it's a personal story and - as with quite a few of my adventures in metal - the conclusion is a young me sitting in my bedroom farting in terror as something unexpected jumps through my headphones and into my brain. Since Krisiun jumping into your brain is roughly equivalent to receiving electro-convulsive therapy, there is still a small part of me that can't escape the trauma of my first listening experience. I had read a review of previous album AssassiNation in a music magazine, where it was described as "death thrash metal", which sadly led me to the conclusion that I would hear something akin to Hatesphere or even The Haunted, who I was digging at the time and (slightly) fit the death thrash genre. Boy, was I wrong.

What you'll get when you press play on Southern Storm bears little relation to thrash metal unless your idea of thrash is that Kreator were good but needed a lot more double bass drumming or Vader could have been a little more serious. On the death side of things, the sonic brutality of this album makes Cannibal Corpse and Deicide seem lightweight. There is a seriously mean bass guitar tone grunting away at full power practically from start to finish, which might satisfy some death metal bands without even adding guitars into the equation. That comes courtesy of Alex (three brothers, so I don't think it's rude to use first names), who has an equally gruff voice like the bellow of some crusty ancient beast, used mainly at low register to roar out tales of death and destruction, where adjectives like "abysmal" and "holocaustic" (is that a real word?) make frequent appearances. When brother Moyses joins in with guitar, the results are often huge and destructive, smashing concrete riffs down onto the gritty bass and swirling out some more intricate solos in most of the songs. However, the thing that truly makes Krisium fucking heavy is the unending barrage of percussion that rains down from brother Max's kit, particularly the double bass onslaught that a song like 'Bleeding Offers' provides almost to overdose. Apart from having very quick hands, I imagine he must be a great cyclist, since the speed of his feet puts almost everyone else in the game to shame and damages my ears more than a drunk girl with a tongue piercing.

As such, my impression of this album for a long time was merely "loud", but having had time to come to terms with it I can see that there is some skilful playing sitting alongside decent songwriting ideas. The band does have a tendency to smash through parts of songs without consideration for anything but pure heaviness, though from what I've heard of Krisiun's earlier albums this approach has been mediated by some subtler inclusions and more flexibility in terms of pace. There is a deliberate stop-start motif in more than half the songs here, which works fantastically for 'Origin of Terror' to refresh the charging main riff and provide each verse with new impact, though sometimes it becomes a purely rhythmic exercise, adding no particular excitement or enjoyment to the song. I find that the band return to similar tricks too often, robbing songs further down the album of their impact, especially the prevalence of those stop-start bridges. It is conceivable that some listeners might savour those sections, but I would imagine most are more attracted to the riffs, some of which surge through in tremolo-picked scales and others of which chug briskly, utterly bulldozing everything in their path. The latter is Krisiun's most successful move, because there is no resisting the momentum of the riff in 'Twisting Sights', even if there is more brutal fare to be found in other places.

Some of the songs branch off from the overt percussive heaviness and rhythmic shifts, which happily results in some music for the brain rather than just for the neck. 'Minotaur' and 'Contradictions of Decay' follow similar structures to the other songs though benefit from steadily rolling riffs and a more discreet use of guitar and bass parts, winding around the basic chassis of pounding heaviness. The guitar solos are useful in this regard too, proving more technical and adventurous than the rhythm playing, sometimes even creating atmosphere in their frenzied spasms. Check out the close of 'Combustion Inferno' for an explosion of shred and a huge gulp of distortion on the last note. Despite the initial success of Krisiun's formula - and a formula it surely is - the album loses steam before it reaches its final stages, leaving the last four songs to rehash similar themes with lessening effect. Placing the cover of 'Refuse/Resist' at such a point in the album also alters the momentum of the songs, since the performance is much less intense (despite furious blasting in the solo, it never seems to fit Krisiun's style) and nothing truly venomous comes after. In this regard, the band would seem to have committed an error in making Southern Storm their longest album, the quality not being there from start to finish and the overall force diminished as a result.

The first 7 songs and 'Origin of Terror' are all pretty good super-intense blasts through death metal insanity, although some overly rhythmic parts tarnish the momentum of the more instinctive assault. By no means a bad album, Southern Storm still has enough problems to make you approach with caution.