Oh you didn't know? Death metal is back, and back with a vengeance I would say. Yes, death metal never left, but it did start to get pretty crappy and then the technical and brutal death metal bands started to clog the scene with their shite, but in the past couple of years, the old school has returned in full force with a bunch of young bands that are playing just about every style of death metal around. Whether your flavor is Incantation worship, filthy Swedeath groups, even filthier and more vile bands that take their influence from Autopsy, Asphyx, Convulse, etc, there is a band out there for you. But where does that leave Mexico's Ominous Crucifix?
These ragers from south of the border play some pretty heavy and atmospheric death metal that takes a lot of influence mainly from bands like Bolt Thrower, Benediction, and Master, bands that didn't really take their music to the extreme, but instead just hit you with some heavier than hell riffs and trampled you underneath their midpaced march. The first half of this album definitely leans toward the aforementioned influences as songs like "Third Day Resurrection" and "Primitive Sin" really don't stray away from the midpaced monotony, and I say monotony because these songs are just that. Boring. They don't really stimulate the listener or get the listener to bang their head like a maniac, they're just there while the vocalist howls over them.
Luckily, Ominous Crucifix manages to save themselves later on the second half of "The Spell of Damnation." The songs here are all longer, but they have more dynamics to them than the snoozefests earlier on. The track "Secular Omens of Doom" couldn't be more aptly named. The doomy chords that open the track recall those that could be heard from bands like Autopsy or Paradise Lost, and the overall feel of the whole track really captures a great atmosphere that the earlier songs lacked. The title track and "Defiling the Altars of an Absent God" also bring that same dark aura, by weaving some terrific melodic passages with the heavy riffs and crushing vocals. These aren't your typical Gothenburg, melodeath kind of melodies, but the kind that could be heard from the Finnish death metal bands (Amorphis in particular) that gave an evil kind of atmosphere, and Ominous Crucifix knows how to use them well.
Overall, "The Spell of Damnation" isn't the amazing album that it could have been, mainly due to the horrifically mediocre songs earlier on, but when Ominous Crucifix does write some well-written music, it is quite good and worth checking out.
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"Defiling the Altars of An Absent God"
"Secular Omens of Doom"
"The Spell of Damnation"
4/5 or 80%.