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Crushing - 81%

PorcupineOfDoom, August 11th, 2015

Gloss over the fact that their first demo was titled Ass Music, Zuul Fx have created an excellent industrial death metal record with their first full-length By the Cross. It starts out at a hugely intense level and barely lets up at all. I don't think I've ever heard anything as crushing as this album, and any fans of thrash, industrial and death metal are thoroughly advised to give it a spin.

The guitars are the main reason that this album is so powerful. They're tuned pretty low, and they sound incredibly heavy as a result of that. But there's a thundering quality to them as well, and despite the fact that they don't do very much in terms of creativity, they have a large bearing on the result of this album. Without the immense power, I don't think that I would have listened to the entire album. Normally I'm not one for music that relies more on power than anything else, but it works well for Zuul Fx. The synth is the bit that tidies up after the guitars, and adds a slight degree of melody to the music. It probably has more of an impact than I give it credit for, because without it this would probably just be one big mess of brutality.

There are a lot of stupid lyrics in this, but that doesn't really surprise me. When the vocalist spends ninety per cent of his time angrily yelling, growling and screaming, you can tell that the lyrics are going to be full of stuff like an overdose of "fuck you". However, this verse from 'Cabal' really takes the biscuit:

"Show me your tits baby
Gimme your ass baby
This is the low baby
Please please baby"

Uh... yeah. These guys don't speak English as their first language, but I don't think that I'd ever consider writing song lyrics even remotely like that in another language. It's a good thing that the frontman is difficult to understand, because otherwise I think I'd struggle to make it through this record due to the amount of cringey lyrics. His voice isn't particularly good or bad, but the effort that he puts in really makes it worthwhile and adds to the intensity that the guitars create.

The drumming is pretty technical, although it's somewhat obscured behind the guitars. The bass therefore has no hope of getting through, and even when nothing else is playing it's hardly noticeable. The drums rely heavily on blast beats, but they play at different paces and the rest of the kit also sees a lot of the action, especially the cymbals. It contrasts with the simplicity of the guitars in some respects, but yet everything blends together nicely.

The one thing that I would say is that although the opener 'Behind the Light' is one of the most awesome death/thrash songs I've heard, nothing else really gets to that level. It's all pretty good and very consistent, but it isn't as spectacular as the opener led me to believe it would be. It's more solid than anything else, but maybe someone else will appreciate this more than I did.