A year ago I was just finishing up my top ten list when Svart Crown dropped a freakish slab of blackened death metal called Witnessing the Fall at my reviewing doorstep. Their Immolation-inspired cacophony gave me a nice pile of hate to fall back on when the holiday gatherings got extra uncomfortable, and would go on to be among my most listened to albums this year. It may have missed my list, but it received extra listening because I needed a break from everything that did. It seems as if recent history will repeat itself, as the gods of metal fortune hath provided a similar surprise.
Now I’m not suggesting that The Calling Depths, the raging debut from London’s (utterly-horrible-to-type) Lvcifyre, will have the same lasting impact as the Svartness did, but it certainly deserves a regal spot in the Kingdoms of Pummeldom. Like Witnessing the Fall, there is an obvious Immolation slant, but in place of the blackened vibe is a serious mid-90s Morbid Angel riffing approach. The obviousness of the influences would normally warrant a statement along the lines of “this band will really be something when they develop their own sound blah blah pompous statements blah…” but fuck it, when it’s this absolutely flaying those rules can take off.
Lvcifyre’s success therefore comes not from innovation, but from uncanny chemistry, which sounds like that of a veteran band, not one recording their debut full-length. The guitar-drum tandem often has a similar thump to the classic Azagthoth-Sandoval team, while blast beats are delivered in a way that leaves room to breathe. Riffs themselves vary from Vigna-styled and Ulcerate-swirled to a killer double-bass / speed-picked attack and scathing tremolo lines. T. Kaos’ deep and layered growls and some just-chaotic-enough soloing cap off an unrelenting and hatefully blasphemous fury. Moments like the transition into the solo in “LCF” or the irresistible drive of “The Faceless One” exhibit how well this sound is translated into both monstrous songs and surprising variation over the 42 minutes of The Calling Depths.
However, there is an unfortunate flaw and caveat: the production. The intent – dry, raw, and utterly nasty – is great, but the absent bottom end and trebly drums give the instruments a flat feel that could easily be decompressed to great effect. Sections like the slower parts of “Death’s Magnetic Sleep” (please tell me that title is an intentional joke…) could use more bass—not an Ulcerate-like abyss of sound, but something to expand things.
Still, for all the depth lacking in The Calling Depths (nyuk nyuk), it provides such a complete mountain of facefuckery as to make all but the most snobbish of sheen-obsessed Behemoth fans look the other way from the production limitations. Lvcifyre has shot right into the mix for fans of wild and razor-edged death metal, as The Calling Depths wear its influences proudly while still sounding incredibly fresh. Fresh like a steaming stabwound.