As a heavy metal fan, Krisiun has always been a quandary for me. You see, I like Krisiun. I like their music. I like the concept behind the band's music. Until 2009's The Southern Storm, I never actually liked any of their albums proper. Nevertheless, I've always appreciated the band’s existence. Heavy metal needs a band like Krisiun, a band dedicated to playing death metal as if the genre's artistic palette froze after Covenant was released.

The Southern Storm changed everything. Prior to Storm, a Krisiun song was a rigid and linear series of leads, double bass, blastbeats, and simple riffs performed at inhuman speed. Krisiun was an Arc-Light strike rendered as music.

(For those not in the know, Arc-Light is a form of carpet bombing in which B-52s level a square mile of territory with hundreds of bombs. In an age of delicate precision bombing, Arc-Light is antiquated, crude, and brutal, yet it is undeniably effective. It kills by asphyxiation and shockwaves as much as by explosions or shrapnel. It leaves survivors shocked, terrified, and permanently deafened. Krisiun's no precision bomb; they aren't technical death metal. They aren't crude or antiquated, either, but like an Arc-Light, they're only as technical as they need to be in order to brutalize. I've seen Krisiun live, and believe me, they roll over right over the listener like a wave of bombs.)

Storm slowed things down a bit. It introduced variation. In Krisiun terms, it was a tectonic shift in mentality. The Great Execution continues Storm's concessions to shifts in tempo, slower speeds, and drum beats that aren't blastbeats or double bass.

Just listen to the title track. It spends 44 seconds introducing itself before it flattens us. And yet t 1:04, we get a shift in tempo to a slower part, a chance to breathe. Why? It's certainly not because Krisiun ran out of energy. It's intentional, and it's an example of Krisiun's changing approach to death metal. “Descending Abomination” spends more than two minutes ramping up to Krisiun speed. Two minutes is forever in Krisiun time! The song undergoes three shifts in tempo, a little faster each time, until the blastbeats come in at 2:53. And the grooves! Oh my, the grooves in the drumming . . . who suspected Max Kolesne had this in him? He still drums like The Flash runs, but when did The Flash learn to shake his hips?

Don't believe me about the slow and relatively gentle beginnings to the songs? I did some (sloppy) listening research. I listened to the albums below to determine how long Krisiun spent playing each song before going into rapid double bass or blastbeats that lasted for more than three seconds ("Arc-Light"). I excluded covers, acoustic/ambient intros, and instrumentals with no drumming. The results are:

Black Force Domain's nine songs averaged 5.9 seconds of introductory playing before the Arc-Light treatment. The quickest was 0 seconds, the longest, 23 seconds. Although only one song started with instant double bass/blastbeasts, most of the 'intros' were rhythm guitar work at the same tempo as the drumming that soon followed. Total introductory time was 53 seconds.

Ageless Venomous' eight songs averaged 5.6 seconds of introductory playing time. Laughably or awesomely depending upon one's viewpoint, fully half the songs started right up with Arc-Light drumming. Total introductory time: 45 seconds. I love this album's dedication.

AssassiNation's nine songs averaged 11.6 seconds of introductory playing time. Two songs started with the instant Arc-Light treatment. Total introductory time: 104 seconds.

Southern Storm's 11 songs averaged a whopping 28.9 seconds of playing before Arc-Light commenced. Remember: Assassination was the album right before Southern Storm, and there was a staggering 249% increase in song introduction length. The longest opening was 131 seconds . . . more than Black Force Domain and Ageless Venomous COMBINED. Three songs had no introduction.

The Great Execution's 10 songs averaged 42.1 seconds prior to Arc-Light. Just one song had no introduction, and the longest intro was 150 seconds.

If I decided to add up the amount of time spent playing over the top of double bass and blastbeats, I expect that there would be a huge jump between Southern Storm and The Great Execution. That was too much work for me. Nevertheless, songs like “Plague of Lions” and “Descending Abomination” are proof that a band can progress, remain loyal to their original mission statement, and still remain effective. Krisiun have learned, but they can still Arc-Light us. They wouldn't be Krisiun without that capability.

In the past, I paid little attention to news about Krisiun. I was glad when they released new albums, even though I greeted each album with apathy. That has changed. For the first time ever, I'm excited to see what Krisiun does next.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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Krisiun - "Blood of Lions"

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Krisiun - "Descending Abomination"

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Amazon (CD)
Amazon (MP3 download)

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