KROSSFYRE – Rites of Extermination (2021)REVIEW

What passing bells for these who die as cattle? / Only the monstrous anger of the guns. / Only the stuttering rifle’s rapid rattle / Can patter out their hasty orisons. / No mockeries now for them; no prayers, nor bells, / Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, / The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells, / And bugles calling for them from sad shires. / What candles may be held to speed them all?” Wilfred Owen, The War Poems

Their gran proschemata unfurled by way of theatric aplomb, finger-wringing leads atop slow-blasting bestial “evil” thrash metal bursts, Barcelona-congregated force Krossfyre strike with the oiliest miasma of ancient wartime extremism on this debut full-length ‘Rites of Extermination‘ — Not a feat of balance but, a rawest torn torsion of bone-and-flesh shearing force that defies exact black, death, or thrash specificity yet lands their covenant within this bestial mind-wracking point of advent as participants in a long-established tradition all the same. We could scour the planet’s most inspired corners for all manner of likeness but we present this fine record today for the sake of it being a unique fusion of brutal yet memorable signature, drawn from a legacy of barbarism into thrilling form. It blasts, it riffs, it roars gravel by the handful and yet by the end of this thing it’ll have done more than simply skin your ears.

Formed in 2015 and seeding our doomed planet with their ‘Burning Torches‘ EP in 2017, Krossfyre is a collaboration between members of Balmog, Sheidim, Graveyard and the more recently unveiled Avlivad; Of course the fellow most will recognize here first is Javier Félez for his many (all great bands, actually) projects and his work via Moontower Studios. Because of this Krossfyre benefit from a solid head start thanks to brilliant sound design and production values, allowing their own knack to shine through readable but still underground apropos recordings. The general signature of the band was there on that first EP so there won’t be too many earth-shattering surprises here on the full-length beyond less overall reverb and more of the direct to the point thrashing n’ blasting works. Comparisons to ‘Devil’s Force’ (or thereabouts) Nifelheim, Vomitor circa ‘The Escalation’ now also include a sort of Chilean touch of aggression that is as rabid as Slaughtbbath and Hades Archer but less chaotic in terms of riffs a la Demonomancy on their yet underrated ‘Throne of Demonic Proselytism‘. Speaking of riffs, Krossfyre hold my interest via a plethora of riffs here, tons of them, but none of them are going to hit as fast or as effectively as the lead melodies which drive ‘Rites of Extermination’ to its true glory. The heart of their compositions is classic evil speed/thrash metal and this is perhaps why I cannot help but think of Parland-era Necrophobic as a loose reference for the placement and purposeful effect of these leads as an important feature in Krossfyre past-and-present, that step beyond ‘South of Heaven’ that is still a foot short of melodic black/death advent — The gist of it is that you’re getting black/thrash metal, bestial black/death, and speed/heavy metal in irregular amounts which all add up to the core alchemy that is their own “brutal yet sophisticated” sound.

If you bought ‘Burning Torches’, liked it and wanted a more refined full length of that same bestial evil expurse, you are ‘ready in the know and going to be impressed by what is familiar yet improved therein. For the uninitiated, you won’t need any sort of extensive indoctrination to get hip. Opener “Rivers of Fire” gives a solid five minute tour of their whole gig via their wheeling-speed into a nuclear drop ~0:22 seconds in, blasting away while the leads begin to present and shape the greater statement of the song at the halfway point. “Infernal War” combines the ‘Nifelheim’-clad blasting speed and the aforementioned melodic guitar leads, pulling us toward a righteous headspace between the class of early 90’s melodic black metal, the barbarism of second wave black thrash (see: Deathwitch), and the 80’s heavy metal that’d influenced each. The brief burn of the title track emphasizes this connection well enough but it is “Casus Belli” that is guaranteed to catch the most ears and perhaps justify all of the scattered description I’ve managed thus far. The burning strat on the front cover? Take it as a window into the fire-borne leads that make this album something else, a record that’ll stick in your mind beyond sub-genre and references to great old shit.

Side B does a bit of turnabout trying out songs which I’d describe as more speed metal oriented, right on the verge of going too traditional but keeping everything blazing-paced and shredding throughout. We’ve heard everything that “W.L. (Burn Like Fire)” does by the time it shows up but the repetition and more declarative riff style here still manages to stick in my head like a nail and the follow up “Deadly Bites” ends up being my favorite song of the lot even if it does more-or-less vault off of the previous piece as a variation. The wheels go a bit loose from that point and we’re given a growling trad metal send-off on the last piece but, the greater damage has been done and it only benefits Krossfyre to end ‘Rites of Extermination’ doing something slightly different even if it doesn’t entirely stick the landing. The material here can be appreciated from a few different angles yet I’d have to walk away from this record loving these Spanish fellowes’ own take on what is surely more than “just another” contribution to the black/thrash metal mindset. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Rites of Extermination
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Black Death/Thrash Metal

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