Canadian melodic death metal band Cruentis are back with Alpha & Omega, their follow up to their epic first release, 2015’s Cold Stone, and have matured their sound without losing the raw edge found on their debut.
A couple years before their debut album Cold Stone was released in 2015, guitarist and vocalist TyLer DeMerchant and bassist and vocalist Jesse Dean formed the band, adding guitarist Matt Sargent soon after. The band is based in Quesnel on the west coast of Canada in British Columbia. Cold Stone introduced listeners to their approach to melodic death metal blending a variety of elements and some progressive stylings while keeping a bit of wintry, cold Scandinavian metal feel. Lyrically the band draws on their faith and Christian beliefs in songs about personal life experiences and struggles in life.
While Cold Stone literally erupted into the opening track, Alpha & Omega opens up very quietly with a nearly two-minute piano piece before the guitars come in backed the a rumbling rhythm section. The raw screamed vocals surprised me a bit as I was expecting the deep, dark death metal growls but those were nowhere to be found and the song even features a clean chorus. Emotions in the vocals lend a very raw feel to it and the more monotone chorus contrasts well in this song about the internal struggles with sin.
“Reclaimed” brings in the deep growled death metal vocals and a building intro section where the guitar riffs work to slowly catch up to the speed of the rumbling rhythm sections. Production is tight on the album but the drums and bass do tend to get a bit lost in the mix behind the guitars and vocals. At this point on the album, I was thinking back to Cold Stone as my memory of that album was that the sound was a bit different than this one. The first two tracks remind me a bit of the recent Hamfero album I reviewed which featured a sound that had a lot more symphonic, doom, and progressive elements than straight ahead death metal.
“Alpha & Omega” opens up with a symphonic keyboard and string section and some ominous sounding spoken word before settling into a heavy driving riff that instantly brought me back to what I remembered of Cold Stone. Layered on top of the heavy riff is another guitar that adds great texture and feel to the song. Vocals are deep and growled, fitting with the overall feel of the song. This is the Cruentis I remember and the trend continued into the next song “All Hail Nothing” which describes the return of Christ and the fall of Satan. Interestingly, this song breaks a bit from tradition for the band as it clocks in under four minutes.
The album closes with the epically long 14 plus minute track “Silence of the Sands”. A song that would have been a bit out of place on their Cold Stone but fits well with the rest of the tracks here. Acoustic guitar and clean vocals open up the song and when the distorted guitars and full band come in, the clean vocals remain and the song has the feel of something almost akin to what you hear on commercial radio. Somewhere around the 4 minute mark the darker, death metal vocals make their appearance and the song shifts back and forth from acoustic to death metal and from dark to light following the journey of a traveler looking for salvation.
Being such a big fan of Cold Stone, this album was a tough one for me as it veered quite a bit away from the formula that worked so well. Bands mature and influences change and Cruentis has changed since their first release, incorporating more progressive elements to their sound but on a deeper listen, keeping many of the elements that worked so well before. Alpha & Omega stands on its own showing a band that is not afraid to expand their sound and has the ability to pull it off.
Written by John Jackson
3. Alpha & Omega
4. All Hail Nothing
5. Silence Of The Sands
Tyler DeMerchant – Guitars, vocals, drums
Jesse Dean – Bass, vocals
“Cold Stone” (2016) [review]
“Alpha & Omega” (2018)
Record label: Nosral Recordings
Release Date: 27 April 2018
Lyric video for ‘Alpha & Omega’