Artist: Crucify Me Gently
Your entire nervous system ignites with a sudden violent impulse—a resounding crash as every neuron in your head erupts at once, sending out cries of intense, unyielding agony. Pain fills every square inch of your brain as pressure builds so suddenly behind your eyes you feel like your pupils might just explode. Within seconds, however, it fades—the red that fogged your vision fading softer and softer, dulling into a rosy hue of pink. Just as the ache in your head begins to fade and your vision returns to a near-normal, it happens again.
A bright flash, followed by deep, searing pain.
And it continues this way—all day, every day, until the day you cease to breathe.
This is the existential agony that serves as the foundation for Ukrainian atmospheric deathcore act Crucify Me Gently. Combining sprawling, dismal blackened and brooding elements with straightforward, spine-shredding salvos of blast beats and breakdowns, these Uzhhorod annihilators obliterate everything in their path on their way into the listener’s delicate skull, filling the craters they create in the listener’s brain with dread, despair and depressively devastating aggression.
While gently might be in their name, there is absolutely nothing kind or tender about the brooding, bitter musicianship that defines Crucify Me Gently’s Circles. The spawn of shadow-laced, shiver-inducing evil, Circles infuses blitzkrieging energy with pitch-black and haunting atmosphere. Percussionist Vlad Karnak displays this prominently, even from the first spine-shredding seconds of “Occultist.” Beginning with blast beats by the boatload, the listener might expect that they’re in for a terrifying—albeit textbook—deathcore experience: that would be a mistake. Circles surrounds the listener’s feeble neck and tenses, preparing to snap it like a twig with sheer brutal force—but milliseconds before the last gasp of air is squeezed from the listener’s windpipe, the rope is cut, in part by Karnak’s ability to drop out of hyperspeed and create cavernous segments of doom-tinted ethereality. “Darkness Swallows Me Pt. II” displays this brilliantly; Karnak works hand in hand with bassist Edik Skunts to create a strong low end that rumbles the earth, even during Circles‘ more mellow moments. Skunts slams and smashes away during back-busting breakdowns, but during moments like the haunting, resounding atmosphere during “Darkness Swallows Me Pt. II” or “Circles” he lets every gritty, grimy note ring, filling spaces between Karnak’s kick drum with dizzying dissonance. These moments are where guitarist Alexander Tsutskov truly shines—in the same way a supernova shines before it becomes a black hole. Tsutskov is creative even at his most lazy moments—drawing from acrid, dark black metal and horrendously heavy hardcore, deathcore and metal to contrast slow, droning and lethally abrasive riffs with sections so intense they shred skin without effort. “The Call of the Mighty” is exemplary of this—as is the groundbreakingly gruesome “Out of Time” and “Bat’ku.”
Instrumental ingenuity is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Crucify Me Gently. Even if the listener should find themselves unenthused (which is practically impossible) by the group’s tremendous musicianship, frontman Alex Rusnak’s vocals are simply incredible. Shrieks, roars, growls, gutturals—just about anything you can imagine—all make their way into Circles in some respect. From the energetic opening salvos of “Occultist” to the dissonant, soul-smothering moments of dreary ambience, Rusnak proves he is agony incarnate; sad in a way that defies contemporary “sadboy” trends and truly takes on their heir of existential dread. “Darkness Swallows Me Pt. II” sees him capitalizing on the latter, while tracks like “The Call of the Mighty” are better examples of his faster and more ferocious (mighty, one might even say) abilities, combining unstoppable candor with full, crushing tone and sprawling range both. Crucify Me Gently create a range of emotion on Circles with their music alone—Rusnak simply uses every syllable to hammer it home.
If faster and more straight-up deathcore cuts like “Occultist” aren’t up your alley (and if they aren’t, maybe you’re in the wrong place), you will undoubtedly find solace in the more emotionally oppressive styles abundant in “Darkness Swallows Me Pt. II” or “Circles.” The point is that Circles has a little something for everyone—and clocking in at a moderate 42 minutes, it doesn’t skimp on material. That being said, for a band with such incredible dynamics and a brilliant ability to flow from furious to self-loathing in a single song, more length and time spent at each end of the spectrum would be welcome among fans of the music. However, when it comes to the material Crucify Me Gently have provided the listeners with, there is little more that they could possibly want—and, after all, it is deathcore from the far east: who else does it better?
For Fans Of: Obscure of Acacia, Dysphoria, Oceano, Burzum, Dark Throne
By: Connor Welsh