QRIXKUOR – Poison Palinopsia (2021)REVIEW

All and everything that one can imagine exists. Literally one is tuned in to the cosmos with all of its infinite variations. Once I had arrived at this basic belief, the possibility of tuning in on any one of the infinite varieties in the universe, I went on a high, became extremely exhilarated and launched further into the explorations.” John C. Lilly, The Center of the Cyclone

What festering electrical storm that curdles within the mind’s froth-edged lesions does not abate by way of smoothing biologic maturation but purposeful, proudly irrational actualization. No span of time can equal the efficacy of placing the realization of a ‘great work’ before human relationships, an seemingly necessary severance which can only partially incite the “trance” to achieve the infinite, to create a vision beyond death which is without denial or compare. The homunculus, the fetus, the eye relaying the torsion of the neural tube, all foreshadowing for perception to be once again unformed, unraveled and set traumatically indistinct without the guidance of the learned and centered. Upon ego-death it is necessary to first welcome the nature of mankind, destruction, into the basal concept of ‘self’ before true singularity is achieved away from altered perception, distortions, and dysfunctions typically set upon too-traditional high-thinking apes who’d resist the sensation that peak evolution is complete within their present day collapse of environs. All destruction is self-destruction. A five year process of radicalization away from youth, an unsavory documentation of hideous surrealism, Qrixkuor‘s daring tumult and hard-fought hundred point roadmap toward rebirth, ‘Poison Palinopsia‘, provides the alchemy necessary for the ‘self’ made transparent and seen past, the scenery of cataclysm savored within two miasmic monuments appropriately out of scale with normative death metal realism.

Formed as a generally anonymous quartet in London in 2011 and notably featuring guitarist/vocalist S. (Adorior) who remains the sole original Qrixkuor member since 2016 the formation of the core trio we see today has been essential in forming a best-realized vision of ‘Poison Palinopsia’, starting with the addition of renowned drummer DBH (Grave Miasma, ex-Cruciamentum) in 2017 and more recently bassist/engineer V.K. (Vassafor, Temple Nightside) since 2018. With these specific musicians involved we can expect necro idealistic sound design, impressive performances, and a style that I have long described as atmospheric death metal. The coverage of their first tape (‘Consecration of the Temple‘, 2014) couldn’t have been more annoying at the time if only for the sake of the conversation too often rolling back to the blurry, psychotropic fidelity of the demo rather than the content which had shades of the same magick Dire Omen, Antediluvian and Grave Upheaval had been chipping away at though the greater distinction of Qrixkuor had inarguably arrived with ‘Three Devil’s Dance‘ (2016) where S.‘s lead guitar signature developed alongside deeper serpentine rhythms and a more present render that offered a terrifyingly warm depth rather than a full-on cavernous distance. In plainest terms their style had clarified itself as death metal but not left behind the dripping suffo-psychedelia of thier sound design. Anxietous vacillations were arguably the key driver of that first official EP yet their use of intensified tempo was only partially indicative of the careening, smoke-like pulse of ‘Poison Palinopsia’, an unsettling horror of the mind conveyed within a ‘cult cinematic’ presentation. If we can consider past releases as corrosive perpetual downward spiral, the echoes abound within a cavernous wrath released, this next stage is freed from subterranean affect and bounding in broad daylight — I’d suggest visualizing the whole of ‘Poison Palinopsia’ as an spasming out of body experience, the ultimate voice of malevolence applied to death music in depiction of a cruel struggle prying ever-deeper within the illusions of a dysfunctional mind.

Edited down and apparently “frankensteined” from four major pieces into two tailored to fit within a single 12″ vinyl LP-filling feat, ‘Poison Palinopsia’ gives us a pair of roughly ~24 minute pieces which, might normally imply a challenging listen if the bulk of it weren’t recognizable as their own brand of involved atmospheric streaks and semi-dissonant seas of well-woven death metal fabric released in undulating form. The experience is less accessible for not being chopped up into their usual 10-15 minute averages but, it is designed beautifully for the vinyl experience, reaching immediately for the natural habits of vinyl listeners whom tend to let full albums play through half-over-half to completion anyhow. I’ll be frank here and suggest that there isn’t a whole lot of targeted statements to set upon Qrixkuor‘s debut full-length simply because its scale insists upon being considered whole and to generalize or piecemeal moments from it will land dully once we get there.

An opus charted by S. since 2017 or so, this honed edge beyond ‘Three Devil’s Dance’ can be seen as a continuation of the established past if only for the sake of surpassing or, ‘seeing through’ all prior possibilities via a singular vision. It helps to do some peripheral listening in order to establish a baseline to vault off of but, most will catch what is necessarily distinct about ‘Poison Palinopsia’ on their first listen; Beyond Side-length arrangements and neatly scored (by S.) interludes each of these piece’s boldest threads arise from lead guitar work, it cannot be overstated that this tragic, sinister style of guitar wailing from S. is both the glue to adhere us to their past works but helps Qrixkuor stick in mind throughout this enormous undertaking. The already attuned fan should ideally be urged to no longer consider direct comparisons to albums like Mitochondrion ‘Parasignosis’ and Antediluvian‘s ‘λόγος’ now that we find the band reaching for rhythmic movements which are slower, doomed in pace a la Temple Nightside and this should not imply this spectrum resonates for the sake of V.K.‘s presence but via patient exploratory pieces brimming with finely-bent riffs dominating the bulk of the albums expression. This is where I posit atmospheric death metal as the species inherent and the prime generator of eerie, cavernous horror and psychedelic wonder as we follow the growls far beyond the mouth of the cave.

Attempts to describe a play-by-play breakdown of “Serpentine Susurrus – Mother’s Abomination” collapse quickly under the level of detail that is readily apparent within the tightly performed work, I will say that I tended to prefer this opening half for the sake of the passage from ~9:35 minutes in as it builds towards the radiant transition around 9:51 minutes, a moment of bestial excitement barreling out some war metallic cues beyond the song’s menacing early moments. This song is a blur, a grinding hulk that aims for riffs that release in slow-blasting ecstasy and I’d found the contrast between Side A and Side B was strong enough that I could easily recognize which side of the album I was on beyond the first few listens. The solo that rings in the end of “Serpentine Susurrus – Mother’s Abomination” presages the strong emphasis on warped guitar hooks over on the second side where “Recrudescent Malevolence – Mother’s Illumination” spends quite a lot of time building atmospheric value before S.‘s lead guitars overwhelm the piece with their wailing, needling energetics, bringing a kinetic ‘Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum’-esque ring to a few sections. We see two sides to the band along the way, some moments are perfectly contained as if to launch harder within their own focus and others are enveloped in siren-like noise and deconstructed rhythms to create a palpable state of dissociative resignation.

Is the material here strong enough overall to encourage most listeners to overlook the murky charm of the recording and stick with the elaborate learning process Qrixkuor have tasked us with? In my opinion, yes, there is enough of a songwriter’s hand sewing these troubled vignettes together in purpose and pair that each of the two songs begin to insist upon deeper listening almost immediately. It wouldn’t be fair to say there are no “riffs” but rather that the most effective ones are crammed into the first half, loading the album this way reads as step from pit to portal, a violent intensity that gives way to some sort of blissful envenomed collapse. Following this thread certainly doesn’t feel linear in the moment and there is some joy in catching what moments do resound in memory when reflecting upon the full listen. There is a strong piece of art music here which also manages to be pure death metal to some degree — This suggests to me that ‘Poison Palinopsia’ is merely the journey to the next door, that we’ve only breached where Qrixkuor can go now that their foundation begins to settle into memorable, masterful standards. If there is one comment I might offer it’d be that these arranged interlude/introductory pieces commissioned and orchestrated by S. are so evocative in presentation of a darkly cinematic realm that they might be expanded even more, perhaps even integrated into the fray of larger pieces so that what were previously transitional bookends become the morphing corporeal unravel depicted in Daniel Corcuera‘s fine cover art. Otherwise the full listening experience is unholy, denaturing, an imposing and Hellishly dark work that sits well next to S.‘s bandmate’s own legacies and appears without a shred of atmospheric death also-ran expression. In terms of a recommendation this will have to be a personal rating rather than a broad statement of likely appeal since I don’t want to pander to the low fortitude of today’s death metal listener, most of whom will shrivel beneath the first half of the experience. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (87/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Poison Palinopsia
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records
Invictus Productions
RELEASE DATE:August 13th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Atmospheric Death Metal,
Blackened Death Metal

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