The Spell of Damnation is the debut album from Mexican outfit Ominous Crucifix. As the band’s name and the album title suggest, the members of Ominous Crucifix are not regular church-goers. Eight tracks of Jesus-hating death metal are what this album has in store. The band does not push the boundaries of its chosen genre, but as Jesus-hating death metal performances go, The Spell of Damnation is, if nothing else, convincing.
Ominous Crucifix does not dazzle with flash or overwhelm with brutality – the songs are almost exclusively mid-paced, straightforward death metal – but the band’s music is imbued with an aura of seemingly authentic evil. If a band can convince me, a jaded reviewer, for even half a second that it is capable of committing the dark deeds depicted in its songs, it is a major accomplishment. Ominous Crucifix had me convinced for at least four tenths of a second: not bad. The production on The Spell of Damnation is relatively organic sounding: dark and gritty, but with analog warmth. Despite this, there is a cold, mercilessly mechanical aspect to the music, but this is achieved without any hint of an industrial aesthetic. The compositions rumble along in a Bolt Thrower-like fashion, but are even more relentless, and with a decidedly more sinister aspect.
The fatal flaw in The Spell of Damnation is that Ominous Crucifix’s unflinching dedication to grind you down with one particular sound, while initially compelling, inevitably grows redundant. The band throws a few big riffs around, and there is a subtle undercurrent of melody in the songs, but nothing much that sticks with you past the end of the record. With eight tracks in thirty-nine minutes, the album is not over-long as metal albums go, but by about track six, I am ready to move on to something else.
With just a little more variation, The Spell of Damnation could have been a much better record. As it stands, however, Ominous Crucifix is a one-trick pony, but at the least, it is a good trick.