Review: “Crossing Spirits” by Drakh

Hailing from the Azores, a collection of nine volcanic Islands off the coast of Portugal characterized by dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, green pastures and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas are Death Metal duo Drakh. Founded in 2015 by multi instrumentalist António Couto (guitars, bass, programming) and Luís Franco (vocals, lyrics, artwork), the band released their first singles in 2018 before debut EP “Volcano One” surfaced in 2020, forging a sound that blends roots in Old School Death Metal inspired by Cosmicism and Existentialism, fuelled by the Atlantic insularity of the Islands themselves…

A dark beauty is held deep within the sixty second instrumental introduction piece “Through Their Eyes“, an eye opening experience as drum programming tears at the brains like a Wolf, the intricate leads the soft flesh that does little to protect from their harshness and yet… it leaves you wondering what maybe yet to come. “Night Maze” is the natural continuation of the introduction piece, building on its foundations with brutal barked vocals from Franco as he depicts night terrors of distant galaxies in epic storytelling fashion against the backdrop of resplendent leads. The album title track then takes more of a Progressive Death Metal direction, rampaging drum programming setting a breakneck pace, the powerhouse rhythm guitar work drawing obvious comparisons to genre leaders Obscura. The band would need to hire Gene Hoglan should they wish to have someone capable of performing this material live on a World tour alongside them, his renowned metronomic abilities the perfect foil for the sound the duo have created here. The song title “Mechanical Soul” immediately evokes thoughts of Fear Factory and the guitar work is certainly in that league, however this has far more soul with a dark whispered vocal part during a melodic phrase rising into something crushing and heavy as the extremes within the bands sound push out at both ends. The bombastic qualities of this one aren’t to be underestimated, it’s familiar feel and savage vocals having an instant hook in terms of listenability before the spoken word finally adds a touch of the dark art theatrics. 

That builds neatly into the cinematic orchestration that brings in “Final Mystic“, another powerhouse with thunderous percussive battery and twin guitar layers which offer vibrant leads and dark rhythms. The searing extended solo mid track is a fretboard melting one, the orchestration giving a evil laughing spirit like touch to it which is incredible. Those touches of orchestration continue into “Human“, adding something a to enhance in the background rather than going full on symphonic and drowning out the bands core sound. The programming adds a cold, almost industrial quality to the sound that contrasts the fire of the guitar work perfectly, while an emotive quality to the vocals creeps into this one giving it a different texture while being no less harsh. “Misty Memories” offers up a second instrumental of the album, an orchestrated piece of melancholia that builds into some classical acoustic guitar that borders on flamenco with a little piano to introduce finale “Bruma” in style. There is perhaps no need for the pair to be separated but it makes no difference to the stunning quality of both cuts as the melodic leads soar like a phoenix rising from the ashes against the backdrop of a dark night sky. There is a surprising almost middle distance gazing almost meditative quality to this one, the power of it creating a dark light that blinds in stunning fashion, the perfect way to bring the curtain down on an incredible piece of work… [8.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Through Their Eyes
  2. Night Maze
  3. Crossing Spirits
  4. Mechanical Soul
  5. Final Mystic
  6. Human
  7. Misty Memories
  8. Bruma

Crossing Spirits” by Drakh is out 23rd December 2022 and will be available over at bandcamp.

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