Krisiun was among the long list of bands that I gave a cursory glance at and allowed to fall by the wayside, not due to any failure of the music they release, but for the fact that their brand of metal did not fit my tastes at the time. Just as wisdom tells us to retry the foods we did not like in our childhood because of our yet undeveloped tastes, here I am, giving Krisiun another taste, with their newest offering Mortem Solis (The Death of The Sun).
Mortem Solis is Krisiun’s twelfth studio record in their thirty-year career, so it is almost a travesty that they are not included in the same breath as other veteran death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Morbid Angel, etc. especially since they continue to release high-quality straightforward death metal.
This record is chock full of tremolo-picked riffs, blast beats, double bass, rumbling bass, and growled vocals full of passion and aggression; the makings of any great extreme metal record. Mortem Solis kicks us off with “Sworn Enemies”; no atmospheric interlude, no filler content, just a few drum hits, and to the pits, we go! The first standout track that caught my attention however was “Swords into Flesh” with its catchy hammer-on/pull-off main riff which forms the anchor point around which the rest of the track is built, to great success! Further on, “Tomb of the Nameless” has a Phrygian run that instantly throws us back to old-school Nile records, a sound that has almost been forgotten among modern death metal bands. In fact, the entire track could easily be well placed on a Nile record, a point of high praise! The drum arrangements on the track with its precise bass drum hits also bring extra flair to an already fantastic track.
By this point, Krisiun is doing what we expect them to do, batter us with aggression, so the mid-album interlude “Dawn Sun Carnage” hit me like a truck. “Dawn Sun Carnage” is a masterclass in writing interludes, with its war-drum beat, the malice-laden ambience, and the exotic string section, assumedly native to their Brazilian roots. My only complaint is that I wish they continued the motif created by this track into the following track “Temple of the Abbatoir” for greater appeal.
The fact that the dense sound on Mortem Solis is created by only three members, the brothers in Krisiun, is truly astounding. Vocalist and bassist Alex Carmago growls his way into greatness, with various vocal arrangements resembling Dying Fetus, Nile, and Misery Index. Guitarist Moyses Kolesne, the mastermind behind all the brutal riffage and tremolo deliciousness, also surprises us with clean sections like on “Temple of the Abbatoir” and “Worm God”, and seamlessly creates sonic scapes that could fool even the most avid of listeners of the inclusion of another guitarist. Obviously, drummer Max Kolesne is the one pummeling the kit and providing the brutal backbone to the Krisiun machine. His mix of creative arrangements keeps the tracks fresh and alters the mood of the riffs, not relying on otherwise stale death metal tropes.
The production of Mortem Solis is among the best I have heard in the modern extreme metal sphere. The balance of precision and aggression is unparalleled, keeping all the layers distinct and pristine without sounding overly quantized or compromising on the baseline brutality that the songwriters intended. Perhaps it is due to the fact that Krisiun is a three-piece, but I am extremely glad that the bass is so prominent in the mix and is given plenty of room even in the busiest sections of the record. I wish more death metal producers allowed the bass to occupy more room in the mix. Hopefully, Mortem Solis is proof that this is possible without taking anything away from the rest of the sound.
Mortem Solis is a hefty piece of aggressive war-drum-like death metal. A good mix of creative elements interspersed with no-nonsense death metal is exactly what fans of the genre want. If you have not given Krisiun a chance, let “Mortem Solis” be your introduction to the madness!