SummaryDifferent name, yet almost the same
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At one point death metal had got rid of its thrash-like roots, as bands such Cryptopsy, Suffocation and Kataklysm had clearly showed. The future wouldn’t be too bright for old school death metal fans who yearned for a more simplistic, yet effective take on death metal, or would it? No, I’m not talking about Jungle Rot… here’s where Crimson Relic come in. They’re not quite on the same level as that of the pre-Crimson Relic band called Divine Eve – as there are some minor changes to the production and writing here, but they certainly come close.
Now, don’t let the doom/death metal tag scare you. You don’t even have to be a fan of this style to enjoy Crimson Relic to begin with, as the band plays doom/death metal. Just like Divine Eve, there are obvious nods to Celtic Frost, Entombed, but there’s also some high-intensity thrashing that recalls Slayer as well as Destruction and doom grooves you might recognize from the first two Cianide albums – if this doesn’t sound satisfying to you, then I don’t know what does.
Thanks to the wide amount of influences that fluently melt into one and another, you’re never dealing with a never-ending amount of droning nonsense, as the guitars always remain busy, whether they operate in rapid-fire thrash-mode or come crushing through the gates with a heavy Celtic Frost-esque stomp. It also helps that the songs are short, catchy and with awesome riff following up after awesome riff, I never get tired of Purgatory’s Reign to begin with and who could forget Xan Hammack’s dry throated, yet commanding death metal shouts? “Thane of Torchless Light” opens up with a blitzkrieg thrash riff before heading into the Celtic Frost territory, only to unexpectedly take turns with that eerie acoustic interlude before returning to its original state with those heavy-as-bricks power chords and tight thrashing rhythms.
Best of all, Crimson Relic let their riffs speak for themselves, regardless of each composition’s structure. “The Lust Primeval” rages onward with some hardcore punk-inspired riffs – harkening all the way back to Entombed before they began to flirt with hard rock. Easily the fastest song on Purgatory’s Reign, there’s no doubt in my mind that this would have sounded out of place under the Divine Eve name, but it works well here. The use of the timpani was also a good idea, as it turns “Crimson Relic” and “The Dismal of the Wicked” into semi-epic tracks that resemble the same majestic moments of To Mega Therion. Especially the latter is absolutely top-notch stuff, where earthquake-causing riffs lead towards more thundering thrashing and back again – not to mention the somber lead melody during last two minutes are absolutely evocative; recalling the soundtrack of a journey towards the underworld.
There’s not much else to say, really. I shall admit that in terms of production values, I prefer Divine Eve’s Upon These Ashes Scorn the World, but Purgatory’s Reign certainly comes close in terms of sound. It’s a bit more distant, not quite as a loud, yet we’re dealing with similar crashing drums and down tuned, crude guitar tone. Conclusion: if you like doom/death metal, or any form of extreme metal that’s riff-centered to begin with, then Crimson Relic won’t let you down.
Release date: 1996
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