Blazing an energetic trail from kid-thrashing madness in the late 2000’s (Asphyxer) towards occult Italian doom metal worship (Violet Magick) and black/speed metal hell (Cöuntess) there is no question that all manner of innovative 80’s underground heavy metal have inspired Mexico City, Mexico based black/heavy metal duo Satan’s Cross. That decade long lineage of projects and their respective varietal experience informs the spirited black magick doom of their first official EP, ‘Celebration of the Fallen’. The gloomy atmospheric camp of early Paul Chain and off the wall darkness of The Black acts as an alchemical shroud in combination with occultist black metal (Master’s Hammer) and its cryptic speed/heavy metal naturalization here on three smartly finessed and remarkably catchy songs in tribute to three fallen ones. Though this sort of throwback becomes more reductive and insipid as more projects casually attempt different admixtures of first wave black metal and other early forms of extreme-but-traditional heavy metal, ‘Celebration of the Fallen’ provides some spirited insight into the natural connections shared by 80’s doom magick and late 80’s/early 90’s black metal horrors.
The most visible band accomplishing similar goals should be an easy and immediate connection made upon hearing the main riffs to “First of the Fallen” as its Malokarpatan-esque eastern European black metal style should at least vaguely conjure visions of what they’ve recently accomplished beyond ‘Nordkarpatenland’. Satan’s Cross differentiates from that comparison for their love of occult doom metal, which acts as a secondary driver for their riffing beyond purely traditional 80’s heavy metal and speed metal. If anything this EP is immediately more attuned to my own basic predisposition for occult heavy rock guitar work as well as some of the ‘amateur’ and freely performed spirit of that late 80’s Paul Chain mindset. Of course I’d be remiss to not mention ‘Into the Drape’-era Mortuary Drape and the first Necromantia record once “Second of the Fallen” fully kicks in, this is the true heart of the experience. They’ve absolutely captured the youthful excitation of those who’d discovered these rhythms long ago while squeezing more vicious blood from old corpses. It makes for an infectious and often inspired listen hearing Satan’s Cross warp and bend the old ways of the occult heavy metal underground into their own catchy ‘old school’ black/heavy metal songs.
“Third of the Fallen” features an equally memorable Venom-esque main riff that is all too familiar as a devoted fan of Falkenbach‘s debut ‘...En their medh riki fara...’ but I appreciate their use of the (perhaps coincidental) riff structure for their own purposes. This third song is quite a bit longer than the other two and acts as nearly half of the short EP’s length. Without its keyboard driven middle portion and the extended song’s development of occult atmosphere, shaky vocals, violent drumming, and obtuse message within this song Satan’s Cross wouldn’t have left such a lasting impression upon me. At the very least I could say they’ve proven the potential to be more than just another black/heavy metal wave-rider. It is a rare feat to come across a band in this style where the songwriters actually appear to want me to remember their songs, much less an experience that is more than captivating but something repeatable. Of course they’ve a ways to go before being full-length ready just yet but that doesn’t keep ‘Celebration of the Fallen’ from being any less charming and effective. A moderately high recommendation for this EP especially if you’re scrambling to find black/heavy metal variations that aren’t just plain imitation.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.5/5.0
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