Saturday, May 28, 2016

Qrixkuor - Three Devils Dance (EP) [2016]

One of the most strenuous challenges of the reviewer is, perhaps, beyond arbitrating his/her attention toward so many releases, (black and death metal albums are a dime a dozen these days) to selectively deploy his/her while rummaging from one near-indistinct album to the other. Such has been my travail when it comes to London's Qrixkuor, a quartet going by the rather practically brief pseudonyms R., M., A. and S. Now, while I always give considerable space to bands refurbishing the stylistic chaos and miasma of Blasphemy and Incantation, among a few less-known cults, I find it difficult to keep track of things when whole allure of mind-fuckery and heavy, discordant music turns its own head over itself by providing stale crumbs when the listener is looking forward to a nice, healthy helping of engaging chaos. Barring the caprice of this disappointed reviewer, the band's first EP, cleverly titled Three Devils Dance (there are three songs on it), is canned dissonance at best, but at least it doesn't try to veil the influences from which its malicious barbarity stems.

There isn't so much of a busy flow of ideas and novel sounds on Three Devils Dance as there is this tendency to emulate the sounds emanating from a slaughterhouse full of obnoxious ghouls and fat corpses: compared to renowned arbitrators of the black/death/war metal sounds (think Archgoat, Weregoat, Proclamation, Blasphemy, etc.), Qrixkuor is, to a strong degree, more pure death metal than anything else, a nostalgic manifestation of Incantation, Immolation and Morbid Angel as if there wasn't anything half so delectable to the retro death metal fan. Oozing, disgusting rhythm guitars cavort sluggishly with a tempest of tremolos and barged picking techniques as the drams waddle on in chaotic, yet formulated, disarray. What's interesting to note, perhaps, is that the Brits will employ twitchy, caterwauling leads sequences more often than many other bands in this niche, typically enclosing one riff with a wild flurry of notes and high pitched tremolo wails before cutting into the next riff, in a fashion that would have formed a malicious little grin on Trey Azathoth's face.

However, this EP is just so choked down to a mere three songs, each hovering above and below the bounds of the 10-minute mark, that it feels something is alack, but as the record trudges forward there seems to be no fresh catalyst of tension and furore that could make it more exciting. The guitar is fleshy and grimy enough, and the picking sequences are certainly intricate enough to offer some depth, but the overall trajectory of the album seems frozen in one formulaic engraving that can't seem to break the confines of its limitation. Tangibly, the artistry also freezes over; you just know you're not going to get much more out of this after two spins. Qrixkuor try to dress it up a notch with a lengthy intro full of dramatic buildup and taught violins clawing at your ears before riffs pop up, it's only a shame they can't deliver the same aural tension that's promised at the beginning. The vocals are 'good', to say the least, muffled cookie monster growls fed into a few bouts of treble and feedback that works well with the grisly tonality of the guitars for the first 4 minutes or so, but their venom quickly wanes. Three Devils Dance is not a bad piece, but as long the Brits resume their spelunking without much daring, - and there doesn't seem to be any sign of genuinely unique or ravishing craftsmanship - they have a long way to go, and their material won't entice me beyond the first 1-2 spins.

Serpent's Mirror

Rating: 55%

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