Review: Left Cross ‘Upon Desecrated Altars’

The last couple of years has seen a massive injection of life into death metal with stellar releases from established acts such as Immolation, Incantation, Dying Fetus and Autopsy to name but a few alongside newcomers such as Frozen Soul, 200 Stab Wounds and Carnation – the scene is flourishing once more and this puts a massive ol’ smile on my face.

Left Cross 'Upon Desecrated Altars' Artwork
Left Cross ‘Upon Desecrated Altars’ Artwork

For years the scene has been overlooked and for good reason, everything was pretty damn stagnant to say the least with only the hardcore fans flying the flag in the face of a slew of avant garde black metal and the constant waves of yet more deathcore/metalcore/hardcore/whatevercore bands that seemed to be constantly regurgitated with no end in sight. For those of us who grew up with the amazing records of early to mid-nineties death metal, we were certainly left wanting.

Enter Left Cross – hailing from Richmond, Virginia, USA, delivering their second full-length Upon Desecrated Altars released via the ever-reliable Profound Lore Records. Pummelling death metal mixing one part Revenge with the menace and atmosphere of old school Morbid Angel and label mates Cruciamentum. This devastating slab of death metal with an old school sheen ticks all the right boxes for me.

Opener proper The Blood Of Mars drops nicely after the atmospheric intro of Debellation, a true statement of intent with pummelling drum lines and that biting, chainsaw esque guitar reminiscent of the Swedish death metal sound. Short and sweet but setting the intensity level all the way up to 11, a great start. Deity Of Molten Iron and Burning Raids drop some mid-paced riffage that brings the menace and heaviness with relative ease – war drums mercilessly pounding you into submission and some flashes of solo guitar work that certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome -savage!

If you are a fan of bleak, heavy and utterly devastating death metal then you owe it to yourself to immerse your soul into this release – essential listening…

The vocals deserve some credit for veering away from the straight-up ‘cookie monster’ formula and instead delivering a more mid-range guttural scream drenched in reverb, lending a much more sinister tone to the proceedings. 

The title track, Upon Desecrated Altars, is one of the standouts on the record, delivering an absolute neck-snapping breakdown with a (dare I say it) ‘groovy’ riff that punches you square in the gut. The second half of the album continues with its incendiary battery with tracks such as Unbinding The Covenant and Inexorable March shooting out of the gates at breakneck speed and (very literally) drumming home the heaviosity and bleakness of violence, war and death.

Unallowed Oath is probably my favourite track on the album, delivering crushing riff after riff wrapped in a dissonant, atmospheric murk that is so heavy it could snap spines from a mile away, a masterclass in new/old school brutality and originality with blistering guitar work and drums that herald war cries and screw face in equal measure – sublime.

Pyramid Of Conquered Skulls and Celestial Wound round out the album nicely, there is no relenting in its ferocity, no filler whatsoever, just hardcore punishment and grimace inducing riffs that will have you throwing claws to the sky with gleeful abandon. If you are a fan of bleak, heavy and utterly devastating death metal then you owe it to yourself to immerse your soul into this release – essential listening!

Label: Profound Lore Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Todd Robinson