Saturday, May 22, 2010

Krisiun - Works of Carnage

Krisiun - Works of Carnage
2003, Century Media

+ | A much better, more organic (although still devoid of most analog warmth) production than their last digital nightmare, Ageless Venomous. A much better mix, which places the bass in a position of prominence (or at least at a minor level of "equality" with the rhythm guitars to each side of it), a warmer drum sound - especially the bass drums. The bass is still distorted beyond recognition and so only really appears as a sort of filler or blanket addition to increase the guitar attack with low tone reproduction, but it's at least nice to hear it. It thickens the sound and adds another layer to distract one from the unending monotony that is Krisiun's lack of songwriting skills. A more openly, authentically (or traditionally) "technical" approach is flirted with in some songs, increasing the dexterity of structural riffs through blatant musical/mental masturbation: endless trills, scale segments, etc. In some places this appears to be almost a derivative of baroque chamber music, in terms of technique and approach, not overall effect or originality.

- | Krisiun still are unable to write an interesting song filled with various dynamics that take the listener past the most surface levels of metal composition. This is due to the lack of imagination in the rhythm guitar writing and the fact that this band is completely riff-based, and are terrible at writing riffs. Krisiun have basically been playing the same two riffs for the last ten years - there is the sixteen note ascending AAAB pattern, where B just increases the intervals between the notes in the first four note chain from one step to two, and then the eight note descending pull-off or sliding pattern which is repeated ad nauseam in their songs, and is their "signature riff". Their most original, darkest material appeared on their debut album, and each album since then has only been a repetition and "clarification" of those first ideas, where each repetition further strips the material of any kind of emotional resonance in favor of a completely "technical", machine-like series of constructions that just rearrange the same riffs and rhythms into a few heavily-modified forms in order to create new "songs".

The drumming is completely one-dimensional, unimaginative, and boring, with the same blasts appearing over and over. The same can be said for the vocals, which show zero imagination, real emotion, or expressive range. Krisiun are either a) convinced that their "formula" brought them to a position of worldwide prominence and so are afraid of changing it; or b) really are this boring and have this little to say. I don't think they will ever top their Century Media debut, Conquerors of Armageddon, or their actual debut, Black Force Domain. This is passionless, emotionless, precision-driven, unoriginal filler material for people who think music is just a random succession of notes. The best song on this album is their cover of Venom's "In League With Satan", and that is because it was written by another band. I suggest that Krisiun, in the future, stick to recording whole albums of songs written by other bands.

It will be noted, even by the most casual listener that Krisiun - who have recorded a number of cover songs over the last few years - add absolutely nothing, no layers of interpretation, no attempts to "make the music their own" on their cover versions. They simply play the songs straight through, and are seemingly satisfied that this "Krisiunization" (which means - what? Speed the songs up, add pinch harmonics, miss the solo work, and drape Alex's bland, guttural vocals over it all?) effectively does the songs justice, and will satisfy their fans in turn. I propose that the the reason that Krisiun can not change their cover versions of songs to reflect their own style is because, in the end, they do not have a real style, but rather an approximation of one, or a simulation of one, which is just a series or system of technical tweaks on traditional instrumental techniques. Instead of a style and an original voice, they just have an idiosyncratic (although by no means original) method of playing their instruments. Krisiun do not have a style of their own, but rather just an approach to playing metal which they can not see outside.

Krisiun are obviously compelled to express themselves (for various reasons) and to write music, but their expressive abilities and goals are so limited that when it comes time for them to add a response to the ongoing conversation or debate which is the complete production of the worldwide metal scene (and the history of metal) their only contribution is the phrase, "We have nothing to say." It's as if Krisiun are endlessly clearing their throats and opening their mouths to say something, but can never say anything at all. The end result is a furious production of sound whose nearest relative is complete silence. Krisun destroy meaning and their own "human contribution" to music.