A great benefit of being a reviewer is being exposed to great new bands and Cruentis have managed to gain my full attention. Cold Stone, the debut album from Cruentis, is filled with melodic death metal that shares much in terms of atmosphere and feel with the classic/legendary Scandinavian bands and yet is still unique.
Cruentis (Latin plural for “bloodstained”) hails from Quesnel, British Columbia in the icy Canadian northlands. Well, maybe not very icy as Quesnel is somewhat close to Vancouver and as such has a much more hospitable climate. That being said, there is a definite wintry feel to their interpretation of melodic death metal, much like one would expect given their influences of bands like Dimmu Borgir, Kalmah, Amon Amarth, and Opeth. The band was formed by guitarist and vocalist Tyler DeMerchant and bassist and vocalist Jesse Dean with guitarist Matt Sargent coming on board soon after. According to the band, it’s been a long two years of work to record and mix their first album and in the meantime, the band has released a number of tracks on Soundcloud and lyric videos on YouTube to whet fans’ appetites. Lyrically, the band draws from their faith and Christian beliefs, describing Christ as the center and how everything flows from Him, writing in the style of Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced.
The best thing a new band can do is start off a debut album with a roar, i.e., no instrumental intro track. Cruentis nail that sentiment perfectly with “Path of Anathema” and its guitar only beginning. Sharp riffs between the two guitars merge perfectly into the opening verse section. At this point, the deep, raspy vocals and medium speed tempo give almost the feel of some folk metal but that thought fades as the melodic death and maybe some progressive elements take over almost signaled by some double bass work. The song itself is very melodic in nature and the vocals, while dark stay almost in the realm of singing and the guitar solos stay within the realms of reason, fitting the song very well. The overall sound is full and rich and the instruments and vocals are all clearly heard in the songs. For me, this song was the perfect hook.
One aspect of Cruentis that I didn’t immediately grasp was the length of the songs, with four of the seven on the album well over seven minutes long. The eight plus minute long “Dead and Reborn” as the second track begins with an acoustic section and clean vocals before the heavy instruments and death vocals come into play. Throughout the song though is the underlying acoustic guitars that provide a rather strong background to the track.
Shifting back to the heavy guitars opening songs, “Six Feet” begins with a guitar intro that had a build up like one would expect in a thrash song. Perhaps not surprisingly, the song didn’t go there but did go into a faster section and maintained a driving riff and barked out vocals trying to keep up with the fast pace. The sound of Immortal Souls immediately springs to mind with the fast riffs and underlying strong melody.
Things slow down a bit for the title track “Cold Stone”, which has a great rumbling bass intro before the guitars kick in and the song takes off. Here again, Cruentis present yet another take on melodic death metal, this time perhaps bringing in some doom elements in terms of vocal delivery and overall feel, not to mention the near eight minutes of music in this track. Oddly enough, time seems to fly by in the longer Cruentis songs, as the music and arrangements keep things interesting, not to mention the guitar solos which the world needs more of in my opinion.
Given that Cruentis has some rather lengthy song, one has to mention the epic nine and half minute long “The Blood That Divides” which oddly enough begins with the phrase “lyrics please” before a heavy galloping riff opens the song up. Much of the song is driven by a fast rolling riff again, reminiscent of the faster songs from Immortal Souls, who I guess lucky for Cruentis is one of my favorite bands in this style. Somewhere around the six minute mark some guitar solos break up the verses and add some good texture and variety. For a band that has struggled to find a permanent drummer, I have to mention that the work Tyler DeMarchant put in on drums for this album is really solid and adds significantly to the strength of the tracks.
Not many bands could pull off a debut album this strong…actually most established bands would be happy to have an album this strong in their catalog. Cruentis have provided us with a bit of a different view of melodic death metal in several different forms and yet at the same time the songs have familiar elements to them that will keep the listener’s interest.
Written by John Jackson
1. Path of Anathema
2. Dead and Reborn
3. Six Feet
4. Cold Stone
5. March for the Son
6. The Blood That Divides
7. Lament for Those Left Behind
Tyler DeMerchant – Guitars, vocals, drums
Jesse Dean – Bass, vocals
Matt Sargent – Guitars
Record label: Independent, 2016
An interview (March 2015) with Cruentis can be found at this location.
Lyric video for ‘Cold Stone’
Video Below: “Cold Stone” (Album teaser)