Brazilian death metal band Krisiun have been around since 1990 with a consistent line-up across all twelve of their albums, perhaps because it comprises three brothers: Alex Camargo on vocals and bass, Moyses Kolesne on guitar and Max Kolesne on drums. They used to have a second guitarist in their demo days and they've included one on stage, but in the studio they're a power trio. I'm not familiar with their work, unless I heard some of their early material in the mid nineties when I was drifting away from death metal.
Krisiun do this well in an old school manner, as much as the opening notes of Sworn Enemies sound modern and I'd bet that the drums weren't this fast back on their debut album in 1995. The tone is pretty consistent throughout and the vocals, delivered in a deep rich growl, usually follow the riff in play at any particular moment. Camargo is clear enough that I could tell that he sings in English but not so much that I could follow the lyrics. The song titles are typical enough that I feel like I've heard this sort of material many times before.
And I could say the same for the music, as there isn't anything new to the genre on offer here, but, while that's true, it would be a little misleading, because it suggests that they're a one trick pony and they're not. There's a lot of variety on this album; it merely all happens to unfold within those long established boundaries that the more progressive bands routinely cross. That Krisiun clearly feel comfortable within those boundaries isn't inherently a negative because they're doing quite a lot within them.
For a start, while the tone is consistent, the pace isn't. They don't just blister along at a set speed for forty minutes, as many old school bands do (hi, Cannibal Corpse), because the songwriting has more in mind to allow these songs to distinguish themselves from each other. Every song here has a consistent tone with every other song, but it doesn't take a hundred listens to tell the difference between this one and that. There's no doubt that Serpent Messiah and Temple of the Abattoir are by the same band, for instance, but they're not easily confused. They're both highlights here.
Krisiun are clearly masters of the intro too, because pretty much every song here benefits from an easily distinguished and very capable intro. some are slow and effective, like Necronomical. Some start slow but ramp up quickly like Temple of the Abattoir (which also has a separate track labelled as an intro—and the middle eastern-infused Dawn Sun Carnage is easily the most original piece of music on this album). Some are faster, like Tomb of the Nameless. All of them work.
Even the less ambitious songs, like Swords into Flesh and War Blood Hammer, that do cruise along at the same speed for entire sections, alternate tempos between them to keep them interesting. The fast sections work, the slow sections work and there are bridges between them that highlight just how good a drummer Max Kolesne is. So even the lesser material on offer is solid and the best songs are excellent.
Because the mid-twenties version of me was bored with death metal back in the nineties, I tend to expect little from bands who play death metal without any of its subgenre prefixes. I might like an immersion for a while, because I do like the sound, but they often lose me pretty quickly because I want more than they're willing to give. What's surprised me most over the last couple of years is a discovery that there are death metal bands in the 2020s that are working exclusively within an old template but conjuring something interesting out of it. Krisiun are definitely one of those. I might even up this rating yet.