Krisiun – Arise From Blackness

Heavy metal from countries other than our own, and to a certain extent the other side of the Atlantic, has always largely been treated as something of an anomaly in the press. Generally, you’ll find that acts hailing from Europe, South America and beyond often appear to be a little behind the times, at least when compared with the constant progression of English and American metal (certain offenders aside, of course). Having said that, it’s important to note that our beloved music is held under a very different light in other parts of the world when compared with ours. Some countries are famed for staunchly sticking to the traditional elements of certain sub-genres, while the downfall of others is how much they seem to be playing catch-up with the rest of the world. However, it’s far more plausible that, well…they just don’t care, for the true defining characteristic of foreign heavy metal is that while we often take our music far too seriously, sometimes to the point of stagnation, our imported counterparts live and breathe the mere joy of the genre.

Much like Sepultura before them, Krisiun were formed in Brazil by three brothers playing some of the most extreme and violent death metal to be found on the planet at the time, striking just in time for the emerging undercurrent of death metal that bubbled ‘neath the grunge-stricken turf of the early to mid-90’s. The difference between the two bands is that while Sepultura soon abandoned the extreme metal tag and went on to become one of the most influential and successful bona fide metal acts of the 90’s by reinventing their sound and injecting it with the tribal nature of their homeland, Krisiun stubbornly and loyally pledged their allegiance to all things extreme, their barbarous take on the most hellish form of music in the world only increasing in severity over the years. To say they’ve had any major influence on the genre would be a drastic overstatement, but as far as South American metal is concerned, they’ve become one of the most prominent bands to emerge from this corner of the globe in the extreme metal scene. This is why it’s usually a risky proposition for a record company to decide to highlight the humble beginnings of our favourite bands, and it’s up for debate whether or not Arise From Blackness actually holds any merit as far as Krisiun’s legacy is concerned.

On one hand, the savage, raw and often uncomfortable under-production of this anniversary-marking compilation – one part the out of production Unmerciful Order EP and one part their half of a split album with Violent Hate, Curse Of The Evil One – arguably showcases the sound of death metal in its intended form. The production, or lack thereof, suggests a band still in its formative stages, still developing their musicianship. The under-accomplished roar of Alex Camargo that introduces ‘They Call Me Death’ sounds less like evil incarnate and more like the first growls you can force out when you first learn to scream, and the lead guitar work that peppers the likes of ‘Evil Mastermind’ and almost exclusively on ‘Insurrected Past are, while inventive, most notable for how inexperienced they sound. And yet, it’s the imperfections and the somewhat naivety of it all that gives this compilation its charm. The amateur performances are often perturbing, but there’s an underlying urgency to the novice work on show here that may be initially difficult to notice. Despite still being in their infancy as a band, Krisiun at least play and bellow with such vigour that it’s hard not to appreciate how much effort they put into their early years.

Whether or not the sound is believable is another story. Going back to the first paragraph, the main issue with Arise From Blackness is how derivative it is, even within the confines of a genre that generally doesn’t allow much room for evolution. Like most bands in those first impressionable years together, their influences are almost too blatant with flashes of all the metal acts instrumental in the popularisation of the genre on show – namely Morbid Angel, Death, and even the more intense thrash metal acts such as Kreator, Sodom and Destruction. The problem with that, is that by and large Krisiun were around 10 years too late to the party when they recorded most of these tracks, which gives the proceedings a disappointingly dated feel that far outweighs how retro 80’s death metal production sounds in comparison with today. Furthermore, it’s often difficult to distinguish where one song begins and another ends, such is the similarity in style and execution of cuts such as ‘Meaning In Terror’ sitting right next to ‘Infected Core’. However, it has to be said that the collection’s greatest conundrum is that once ‘Rises From Black’ cordons off the Unmerciful Order portion of the compilation, it suggests that the band took a few steps backward after Curse Of The Evil One, which sees more thought put into the songwriting side of things rather than the relentless aggressive attack of what came after, and a greater distinctiveness found in the guitar work between songs, the most impressive effect coming in album closer ‘The Dead Are Rising Up’. Whether or not the shift was the right one is entirely subjective – some will maintain that death metal should always be constantly progressing into darker, more hostile territories, while others pine for death metal to become more intelligent as time goes on. It’s for these reasons alone that extreme metal will always divide metal fans more than any other sub-genre in a lot of ways.

For how questionable this release is in terms of the band’s canon, it does symbolise a certain victory for Krisiun. Marking 20 years since their first official, non-demo release, the band have achieved things most of their contemporaries back home could only dream of. They have managed to tour North America and Europe with some of the most respected bands of the genre, and despite the fact that they most likely cannot sustain themselves on the success of the band alone, it must not be taken lightly that this is a band that comes from a different side of the planet altogether. That their name is often tossed in with some of the most popular acts in extreme metal today is nothing short of an extraordinary achievement for a Brazilian band, and the true moral strength of Arise From Blackness is that it just goes to show that all of our most loved bands, in any walk of life, all have to start somewhere before they can make their dreams come true.


Arise From Blackness is released on 8th October via Century Media Records

Track Listing:

1. They Call Me Death

2. Unmerciful Order

3. Crosses Toward Hell

4. Agonize The Ending

5. Summons Of Irreligious

6. Meaning Of Terror

7. Infected Core

8. Insurrected Past

9. Rise From Black

10. Sinner’s Scorn

11. Evil Mastermind

12. Prophecies Of The Plague

13. The Dead Are Rising Up

About Del Preston

So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweet shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweet shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shop owner and his son, that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business really. But sure enough, I got the M&Ms and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.