London's underground Metal scene has definitely improved in the last years. Especially taking into account that most of the biggest extreme Metal names coming out of the UK by the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties were not from the capital. But in the last ten years or so, out from the deepest pits of the city’s underground, a small but very active circle of obscure and violent bands, sharing members between them and including a few musicians coming from different countries of the southern part of Europe, Poland and Finland, has invoked some of the most interesting releases in the Death/Black Metal field.
Although when it comes to this mysterious four headed beast called Qrixkuor we will be focusing on, I can’t really tell you if they share members with any of those bands as, at least so far, the identities of the four musicians behind this name have not been revealed. Despite forming in 2011, it wasn't before 2014 that they released their first official recording, a demo entitled 'Consecration of the Temple' featuring two long tracks, which was succeeded by a rehearsal tape in 2015 (including a Demoncy cover, which should at least give you some hints about their music). Not too long after that, Invictus Productions announced the signing of the band and a new recording in the form of a mini album or EP (the discussion is open, as it's thirty eight minutes long, which means ten more than 'Reign in Blood'), that was released in April 2016 on CD but made us (vinyl lovers) wait until September.
The first impression on 'Three Devils Dance' is obviously caught by the artwork Mr. Daniel "Desecrator" Corcuera (Slaughtbbath and Ponzoña zine!) created for the cover, who once again surprises us with is amazing skills representing the most wicked and devilish scenes after that incredible triptych he created for Temple Below, with a majestic piece of blasphemic art that looks like the inverted version of some sacred painting, which perfectly fits Qrixkuor. Not only that cover is amazing, as when you pull out the vinyl, instead of the usual paper sleeve you find a cardboard one with an amazing spiral-like lyrics design and layout on one of the sides which was done by SahSahhu (Sinister Emanation Art) and IV (Ill Omen, Temple Nightside …) and that reminds me quite a lot to Timo Ketola’s work.
Being this three tracks my first exposure to Qrixkuor's sound, but knowing in advance more or less what I would find, I must confess I was still impressed, especially on the very first listen, given the suffocating and sinister effect their compositions hit you with. ‘Three Devils Dance’ brings back that diabolical and ritualistic side of Death Metal that has taken by force the style in the last decade since bands such as Necros Christos, Grave Miasma and Dead Congregation conquered the new throne, drowning us into a majestic and fiercely intense cavalcade of three long tracks (between nine and fourteen minutes, so forget it if you like three minute Death Metal songs) mixing the somber and atmospheric side of the genre with a big dose of intensity and technique (yes, that forbidden word for old-school maniacs, oh my … !).
I would say these Londoners are the closest thing I could imagine, in terms of style, atmosphere and composition complexity, to Dead Congregation's view on Death Metal, departing from the lessons masters of the genre such as Morbid Angel, Incantation and Immolation taught to this new generation (Mr. Vigna is actually very present in the guitar arrangements), and giving it a new twist in terms of malevolence (thanks to the Black Metal hints one can find in the arrangements) and an atmospheric and highly suffocating sound. Although Qrixkuor manage to show their own face and soul thanks to an even more drowning atmosphere, which gives you the impression of swallowing all light around you into their malestrom of sonic devil worship. This last part is actually what defines the most Qrixkuor’s sound, as all and everything is focused to be a small part of the voraginous whirlwind of shadows ‘Three Devils Dance’ represents.
If I had to mention one detail that specially stands out, this would definitely be the guitar lines, as they are absolutely diabolical and intrincate, perfectly combining feeling, aggression and technique at the same level. Imagine an inexorable machinery of the heaviest riffs (the type you can remember and not just listen to and forget) destroying everything on its passage while a chaotic amalgam of dissonant melodies and screaming leads fill the air with and absolutely devilish and poisonous stench of death. Obviously, those guitars wouldn't feel the same without the help of the amazing job of M. does beating the skins like a savage, with a very precise and technical pattern that blows a lot of energy into their music. And, ending with the vocals, which remain on a very deep and reverb -laden tone, they obviously remind me of some of the bands mentioned above, but they also make me thing about Nile's use of the vocals, in the way they do not stand-out too much from the music.
All I previously mentioned is encompassed by a really suffocating production, which was obtained by recording the tracks at Robannas Studios (where Napalm Death, Benediction or even GBH recorded some of their latest stuff) and then, and here comes the important part, sent to Mr. VK (Vassafor, Temple Nightside) to do his amazing job on the mixing and mastering of the album. And I say amazing job because a very important part of how (again) suffocating and surrounding this record sounds is due to, first and obviously, the amazingly twisted wall of riffs and unstoppable blastbeats Qrixkuor deliver, and second, to the way VK turned it into the thick and dense mass of shadows devouring everything on their expansion.
This year's Death Metal poll will be incredibly tough, but no one could say Qrixkour do not deserve their place on it. If you were already possessed by the likes of Irkallian Oracle, Ritual Chamber, Grave Miasma and Temple Nightside, well, here you have a new addition to your list of the heaviest and darkest records of 2016.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.