It feels like it’s been ages since Cruz came crawling out of Catalonia with their first album, Culto Abismal, but apparently it’s only been six years, and really only five since I first heard it, late to the party as I was back then. Granted, those particular six years have been verrrrrry long ones – somewhere more like a century, it seems, as I’m sure everyone would agree… but nevertheless: six years, and only a mere six years.
From there, Confines trumpets Cruz’ return loud and clear. Like its elder brother, it’s a high-powered thrashing death metal attack, Swedeath-tinted and pushing even that established formula to further heights of fury. Like Culto, Confines is born of that pure gnarled viciousness and augmented with dashes of crust punk and hints of the blackened, adding some more colors to an already filthy palette. Drummer Xavi possesses the energy of ten men, it seems, his performance here damned near electric and somehow even more blistering than the one on Culto, a d-beat-driven blaster-class in pulverizing rhythm. Founding guitarist Imanol and newcomer Michele rip through some seriously stellar riffing, balancing it against tasty leadwork. Taking over the mic from Javi – no slouch in his own right in the Culto Abismal days – Narcis’ formidable growls add a wider breadth to the vocal department, a stronger array of shades of aggression. Given a slightly brighter production than Culto’s buzzsaw lumbering, Confines de la Cordura sounds taut and tough, the crusty filth and the dashes of blackness brought a little further forward.
From that first choked-off chord, after a split-second stutter, “Als Peus de la Creu” jumps immediately into full-throttle frenzy, a quick flashy solo atop a blistering tremolo-picked riff, all driven by Xavi’s relentless fire. The downshift at around the 1:30 mark is perfectly timed, a grand example of the inherent build and release process in riff construction. And from there and beyond, there’s no missteps, no mistakes, nothing but exhilarating death metal done right. Another ominous horror-soundtrack synth moment intros “Els Murs Errants,” which at nine minutes long is both the album’s literal and emotional centerpiece, culminating in an infectious doom-paced coda. Later, “Eones de Sangre” ups the ante even farther, pushing into near-blackened chaos.
So sure, it’s been six years since Culto Abismal, be that a long wait or a short one, but the point is this: Cruz didn’t waste any of it. They may not move quickly in terms of record releases, but they continue moving forward and upward. With Confines, they’ve further honed their craft, sharpened an already keen edge to an even finer point, and the result is one hell of a blistering death / thrash effort. Nasty in all the best ways, this one, and well worth your time.