To those in the know, Cruciform were one of the formative Australian Death Metal bands in the early ’90s and with their EP Atavism they played a major part in ushering in the age of Death/Doom. This could be a surprising statement to those who believe Death/Doom’s humble beginnings were as a result of Peaceville giving the world Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride but Cruciform arrived on the scene at almost the same time as the Peaceville three….they just happened to be 9,500 miles away! Regardless of location, it’s a crime that Cruciform failed to capitalise on what should be considered a genre defining recording but with the re-release of Atavism (including their 2 track demo) this can hopefully now be rectified.
Making a relatively inauspicious start, “Prologue” sets the scene but offers precious little but “Sanctuary”, on the other hand, remains a shockingly abrasive and instantly memorable Death/Doom classic. Unencumbered by the use of violin, strings, keyboards and other familiar Death/Doom tropes, the minimalist approach served Cruciform well as they simply went about their business of wringing in misery, woe and a mid-paced deathly deluge of pure Doom!
The remainder of this astonishing EP proceeds to hover perilously over the precipice of all-out Death Metal – the increased pace of “Reduced To Dust” and “Proboscis” showcasing Cruciform’s A-grade deathly credentials – but it’s on the purest Doom Metal track, “I, to the Heavens Shall Lift My Eyes”, that the term ‘classic’ proves fully justifiable. Slothful, bleak and informed by Doom’s core ingredients, Atavism’s closing song – the 2 demo tracks tacked on to the end are solid but not equal to the majesty of the EP – is a towering achievement; the incessant downstroke riffing, laboured beats and gargled growls garrotting the listener in its ever-tightening grip.
History tell us that Cruciform split before they could make their mark but as of 2012 they reformed and this timely re-release should rectify their relative obscurity. 8/10