risiun is literally a band of brothers: Alex Camargo on vocals and bass, Moyses Kolesne on guitar, and Max Kolesne on drums. Since 1990, these Brazilians have honed a uniquely rhythmic take on death metal. Influenced by Slayer, Morbid Angel, and early Sepultura, early albums featured all-out assaults of blastbeats and blurred riffs. But over time, the band learned to put space between notes. Krisiun doesn’t write songs so much as death marches, with crushing rat-a-tat rhythms that would cow even Army sergeants. Driving these rhythms are vise-like unisons of snare and guitar. The drums are relentlessly physical; the riffs are fierce and jaw-droppingly fast. Nile’s Dallas Toler-Wade, himself no slouch on guitar, says, “That is the baddest guitar player I’ve seen in my life. Not only can he play brutal, shredding death metal, he can play all kinds of guitar. He can play flamenco. He can play classical. People are saying he must have sold his soul to play like that.” This could well be the case; those vicious bends, sweeps, and dive bombs are no poncy music school product.
Detractors say that hearing one Krisiun album is hearing them all. This is only somewhat true. The band has retained the same ingredients since day one—blastbeats, atonal riffs, growled vocals in the classic Florida death metal vein. But the production and songwriting on Krisiun’s albums has improved over time. The production on AssassiNation is the best Krisiun has had. It’s a perfect blend of raw, straight-to-tape performances, and polished, razor-sharp sound. The songs are Krisiun’s most memorable yet, thanks to intriguing guitar textures layered on top of the riffs. “Bloodcraft” has wailing bent unisons and squealing pinch harmonics; “Natural Genocide” features fluid pick tapping trills. Max Kolesne outdoes himself with a Dave Lombardo-esque performance; “H.O.G. (House of God)” has amazingly colorful, breakbeat-like fills. While the lyrics are typically head-scratching for death metal (“Wrath of primeval madness / Forged from vicious roots / Timeless existence plagued souls / I vindicate the renegade ones”), Camargo’s growl is as scary as ever. Krisiun isn’t about depth (though Kolesne’s solos drip with Stravinsky-approved whole tones); it’s about attack, and nearly every song here delivers accordingly.
While the material is Krisiun’s strongest to date, AssassiNation doesn’t quite gel as an album. Sequencing albums has never been the band’s strong suit, and here two much-needed instrumental interludes are wedged in near the end. The album ends with an interesting but completely out-of-place cover of Motörhead’s “Sweet Revenge.” Still, these faults aren’t anything playlist shuffling can’t solve. These songs will undoubtedly be crushing live, and live is the proper way to experience Krisiun. Metal traditionally operates with two guitars, but Moyses Kolesne is one of the few guitarists who can single-handedly carry a band. Like Dimebag Darrell, his playing is so dominating that the intensity doesn’t drop when he switches from rhythm to lead guitar. The Live Armageddon DVD is a thoroughly professional and enjoyable document of Krisiun’s live show, but if you can, see the band in person. A Krisiun show is one of the most physical musical experiences you’ll ever have.