Sometimes I read a PR release for a record and just know…I’ve got to check this out. First things off the bat, it’s listed as black metal cross crust. I’m already intrigued. Then this statement about the thought process regarding the record.
‘The album represents phases of the phenomenon called Prelest: absence of reference points, obsession and the search for new meanings, when the existing value system is already crumbling, and the new one has not yet been created. Prelest is also an intermediate state, a crisis of faith, in which illusions deceive, tempt, take possession of consciousness, and fantasies lead to obsessions. We all, one way or another, are in a state of search for verity, trying to escape from harmful illusions and get rid of false ideals, muffle haunting inner voices, but we don’t always realise we’re not alone in this. Signs of spiritual delusion are often similar, we just need to be able to recognise them and not let them completely enslave us, so that there’s no turning back.’
I’ve always found the human psyche very interesting so the above statement really grabbed me. The record is courtesy of Cross Bringer who hail from two different countries, Belgium and Russia, and was recorded just before the outbreak of COVID-19. The record is titled The Signs of Spiritual Delusion and will be released September 18th via Consouling Sounds.
First things first, the artwork is sensational courtesy of artist Dehn Sora. It exudes strength and empowerment but also fragility, the image is of a woman, a mastectomy survivor stood up straight with their chin high and holding a spear. It’s a really emotional and striking image that was my first introduction to the record and fully captured my intrigue.
The only variance from the PR release is that I would say that this record doesn’t have much of a crusty edge to it, but it’s not an issue so let’s move on. What the record is, however, is black metal with a huge dollop of melodic hardcore in the mix, imagine Converge twisted with 1349 and you’ll get somewhere near Cross Bringer‘s sound. The record is filled with your usual black metal tropes’ trem picked riffs, blast beats and all of the distortion but what separates Cross Bringer is they take those tropes and add a whole load of fresh ideas to the mix, like intricate little metallic guitar licks you might find on a post-hardcore record placed on-top of the dissonance, reminding me of groups like Oathbreaker and Celeste but Cross Bringer are way more aggressive.
Cross Bringer drag you by the throat into their maddening maelstrom and the group lay absolute waste to the surroundings with their black metal cross melodic hardcore…
One of the things the record does well is atmosphere. It kicks off with this ethereal sound that builds and builds while a dissonant noise accompanies it. It continues to build into a whispered voice which creates a haunting atmosphere full of tension. What the group do well is they don’t over rely/dwell on the atmosphere. It’s there as either an introduction or as a sidebar to an already established track. There’s a great example of this on the track The Sun Ritual. The track dissipates about three quarters of the way through, back into the ethereal sound from the introduction of the album, the tension builds again and you’d be fooled to think it’s going to be a repeat from the intro, but no! Cross Bringer tear you a plethora of new ones by just cutting the atmosphere dead and destroying everything with the explosive start to the track Temptation Of Naivety (Untamable Black Dog)…so good!
Musically, Cross Bringer drag you by the throat into their maddening maelstrom and the group lay absolute waste to the surroundings with their black metal cross melodic hardcore. The sound is frantic and desperate which is perfectly displayed by the manic drum work courtesy of Ilya Marvel who just kills it. The absolute highlight however are the vocals, Aleksey Aleksandro gives absolutely everything to convey the topic of the record. The vocals are so raw and so full of emotion, like Aleksey is baring every dark recess of his soul through gritted and snarling teeth. It’s a great performance. The riffs are infectious and chock full of mini breakdowns that are thrown in all over the place. Their frantic nature perfectly accompany the aggressive vocal performance.
This is an impressive release. The amount of thought that has gone into the overall meaning and symbolism of The Signs Of Spiritual Delusion really comes across in the sound, which is no easy task. What’s quite interesting is the production is actually quite bright, quite clean which seems to clash with the sound on display. It works and I do wonder if it was intentional. So if you dig what you’ve read or enjoy black metal, post-hardcore and metal-core and wondered what it sounds like all mixed together then I’d give this a shot. I reckon you’ll dig it.
Scribed by: Matt Alexander