Updated: Mar 21, 2019
It's a little hard to believe that Pennsylvania's CRUCIFIER have released more compilation albums than regular full-lengths (3 to 2). And it's also bizarre to think the last full-length was from 2003 ("Stronger Than Passing Time"). And fuck if time hasn't passed. But that's okay. Because Cazz Grant (drums, vocals, other shit) and company haven't lost any of their putrid, ugly, blasphemous, disturbing brutality that CRUCIFIER is known all too well for.
"Thy Sulfur Throne On High" is a welcome return for the band (Were they ever really gone?), with its loosely played songs that sound like they could easily be playing in your living room to a packed house of sweaty neanderthals. Not to compare their fans to cavemen. Not at all. It takes a deep-rooted love for this glorious style of blackened death metal that separates us from the nonchalant metal fans who will accept any thrown-together album.
The album begins with the chant including the line "I am he with heart forged by blackest coal". And damn if this doesn't sum up the album in one little sentence. The rawness of first track 'Ego Sum Papa (I Am The Pope)' is a thrashy, black piledriver hammering into our souls and wrenching out our entrails. And unlike other bands these days, the drums are real. I know that's hard to believe. Cazz pounds the skins like a fucking monster. 'The Poisoner Of Galilee' slows it down to a doomy swagger until almost a minute into the track and the guitars go haywire.
The gutteral growls are pure CRUCIFIER. The speeding up and slowing down in the song are also synonymous with the band's usual form of metal. Sometimes, Cazz just sounds like he's being tortured. Other times he cackles madly. Then there's 'Mammon The Ghast' which could easily have filtered through early Swedish death metal to form into a gelatinous puddle of decay. 'Toil & Trouble' doesn't stray far from the prior track as 'The Black Angel' picks up speed from a slower start. If you don't want to crush the person next to you while listening to this, you're not listening right.
And goddammit if 'The Empty Chalice Of The Semen Of The Saints' (great title, by the way) doesn't peel the blisters from our skin. 'Scourge of Worlds', 'The Bestiarii Rosaries' and 'He, Whose Number Is Nine' are all altar-burners. And a different version of the first track rounds out the album.
So let me just put this right here for any naysayers (not that there are any)...CRUCIFIER have bludgeoned us again. Every single track is a fist-pounder. Though maybe played at higher speeds than previous albums, "Thy Sulfur Throne On High' still captures the essence of the band...and hell, may even be their best work to date. Here's hoping the space between albums is shorter. But if not, I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.
- David Simonton