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Cursed In Descending Madness - 93%

Muse_Perverse696, May 17th, 2011

The union of both black metal and death metal seems to be something without need of inquiry, after all both genres share similar aspects when comparing basic elements of ether sounds; (I'm referring to a rather general sense when speaking about both genre's sounds, not relating to any band for the moment) elements that include, trembo riffing, blast beats, and screamed/growled vocals (black metal vocalist do growl too, don't swarm and consume me just yet) but differ in relatively minor ways such as the use of keyboards and acoustic guitars in black metal and breakdowns in death metal (again I'm only giving reference to the most basic elements).

In conclusion black and death metal are compatible as far as sound goes (despite black metal's tendency toward low-fi production, which is overlooked in this case) so why is it not done more often? To that the answer is rather simple: balance. The elements of both genres must be used equally, while the usual still does apply (musicianship and the like) an artist that integrates both styles but does not control the balance of both elements will end up sounding as if they favor one with minor traces of the other.

This is where Sulphur comes in, they (for the most part, I need not give them too much credit) have their sound balanced integrating icy cold black metal riffs with death metal breakdowns; when applicable of coarse (although Sulphur's sound does not contain acoustic guitars and very little keyboards, the riffs of pure black metal are still ever present).

There is not a track here that does not present masterful riffs, with the exception of "The Decent" which features beautiful Gothic piano lines supported by a faint violin and precision beats by a snare drum which I could only assume to be programmed. It is the only instrumental track I have had the pleasure of hearing that did not feel like a apparatus designed to fill time unnecessarily. As I mentioned before the riffs here are masterful, and are never wastes a moment with needless repetition or filler. It's difficult to single out certain songs when dealing with riffs, featuring both black and death metal riffs. While it does tend to favor black metal a bit more, it is never to the point to where Sulphur would be referred to as black metal with death metal influences. An example that can be given would be within the first minute of "Realms Of Darkness" with a bit of chugging with a blackish riff being played over it, before an icy cold black metal trembo riff introduces a riff of a hybrid black/death nature.

There is not much to say about the drums besides that they are never out of sorts with the music, as most drummers do but there is nothing offensive nor exciting about his performance.
I have more of a problem with the vocals than any other element, they seem to be limited to black metal shrieks rarely venturing from aside from the occasional spoken word and the growl present on "Great Shadow Rising". But really it is a minor gripe, his rasps fit the music extremely well.

A wonderful first offering by a magnificent band, it gives me more interest in their second full length. I would recommend this to nearly anyone who is a fan of both genres or anyone a fan of black metal with a little more to offer.