Album Review: KRISIUN Forged in Fury
It’s been happening slowly and stealthily over the course of the last decade or so. Insidious and incremental and bit-by-bit. It’s been so gradual that if you weren’t paying rapt attention, Forged in Fury might seem like a massive departure and disappointment. The “it” I speak of is the progression displayed by Brazilian death metal veterans Krisiun.
and their movement beyond the sphere of that grand portion of the genre that teeters on the edge of violent collapse as guitars mimicking automatic weaponry and helicopter drums are red lining at all times. As far as the cob-webbed corners of my age-ravaged memory banks can recall – and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – the short hops away from the perpetual speed stamp began around 2006’s AssassiNation and culminated five years later with probably the most diverse showing of the trio’s lengthy discography, their last album, The Great Execution.
From day one, Krisiun has never been a band that let counterproductive situations and predicaments stand in the way. If support or resources weren’t available at home, instead of wallowing in self-pity and victimisation, guitarist Moyses Kolesene, his drumming brother Max, and his other brother, bassist/vocalist Alex Camargo would scrounge their way to Europe in order to record and tour for months on end. Throw up a barrier, Krisiun will find a way around it. Throw down the spike strips and their spirit-powered tour vehicle will still be driving into the sunset weeks later while the rest of the world sits around with thumb firmly lodged in fundament. Forged in Fury is the product of not only experience and dedication, but the desire to do something different while never forgetting one’s roots. There are many “first things you’ll notice” about the band’s ninth studio record: the tempo restraint; the clarity of Alex’s vocal delivery; the melodic strength of Moyses’ riffing and harmonies; the warmth, yet modernity, of the production…I could go on. Krisiun has already proven itself as a top tier member of the speed race and are now harnessing its various talents in an exhibition of the ability of power and brutality to be generated from other sources and in other fashions.
The album starts off with “Scars of the Hatred” which itself is introduced with an epic-sounding guitar salvo and military march rhythms before touching into the sort of chugging and galloping riffology that fellow greybeards like Slayer, Sepultura and even Metallica have been attempting to recreate and recapture. Dudes in jackets patched up with all the 'Cannibal Corpse' font logos under the sun can breathe easy and stay away from the internet’s comments sections (really, who the fuck am i kidding?) as the approach may lean towards the conventional side of things, but the grit still growls pure death metal. Despite Erik Rutan’s elegantly unblemished production job and the accessible edges featured in “Strength Forged Fury” and “Timeless Starvation,” a limiting sheen that’ll scare away less adventurous normals and squares is maintained by Max’s inhuman blasts and the veil of minor key darkness. “Ways of Barbarism” expands upon those elements with a coruscating lurch spun through a powerful, almost dulcet, cumulative surge and the sort of guitar solos that get spotlighted in musician’s magazines, whereas “Dogma of Submission” possesses even more robust and fucking hummable melodic runs – that’s runs, plural. Krisiun has not only developed phrasing strength, but also the ability to weave it all together in flowing fashion.
That’s not to say Forged in Fury is devoid of fury; blasting drums and piston-propulsion guitars have absolutely not been subtracted from the mix. They’re just used more tastefully and dynamically, as in “Burning of the Heretic”s verse sequences which are powered by a combination of Usain Bolt’s leg speed and Daniel Teklehaimanot’s cadence count – thank Satan for obscure sports references! – and herald back to the days when tendonitis wasn’t a consideration. However, there’s a difference in that the song starts with a sweet wash of discord, swings between mid-paced crunch and guitar leads that border on the avant-garde. “Oracle of the Ungod” comes from similar old-school stock as light speed tempos get cut with near-traditional blues scale-based runs, signalling that even the harshest moments can be tempered with a certain amount of convention and retain that crushing sensation.
In all of this, the take home message isn’t that devotees of Krisiun and/or death metal should be quaking in their stomping boots. It’s not that the band has abandoned what they do best for a misguided attempt at expanding their sound. To the contrary, the expansion demonstrated here is an outward move that incorporates elements that aren’t different, per se, but a tinkering shift of what they already know and do best to create an album that remains true to the baseline as it ventures into broader territory.