One look at the band photo for the French Cruxifiction and you become quite assured what to expect: traditional black metal. It is to their credit then that they throw you for a loop by incorporating strong elements of death and thrash metal into their compositions that keep them fresh, bloody and exciting without betraying the sultry melodic abandon of the parent sub-genre. The band will be thrust along some course of somber speculation and then abruptly surprise you with a breakdown or galloping thrash momentum, and its this callous curvature which ensures that the audience's attention remains rapt upon the contents well through the 43 minutes of its total manifestation.
It starts on a strong foot with "Haunting Hypocrisy", which exhibits several of the traits I have mentioned above. Initially searing in its own velocity, it pistons through alluring melodies not unlike early Old Man's Child, before an accelerated surge around 2:30 and a belligerent break of lurching synths and carnal, charismatic vocals after the 3:00 mark. The closing, arabesque leads are addictive and elegant, and it all flows brilliantly into "The Coming", which is built upon a similar structure. "The New Messiah" has a wonderful, atmospheric intro before it too explodes, and "Death Is the Only Way" is simply threaded with driving, melodic thrash hooks that punch through the eardrums. But it might be "Burn on a Cross" which stood out as my favorite here, a shorter track with amazing, almost technical death metal riffs driven across the bow of the fuller, melodic black metal sequences. "I'll Bless You" is only marginally less glorious riff for riff, with an even stronger sense of melody and mood.
The wealth of weaponry these Frenchmen bring to bear ensures that they have a staying power above many of their peers, and this well plotted fusion of extremities is worth at least a few spins for any fan of melodic black or death metal. The vocals are not incredibly unique, nor are the tracks necessarily immortal in quality, but the razor honed mix does the experience justice, and certainly there is something embedded in The Coming to breed excitement. This might not be an apex of novelty or innovation, but the listeners' ears will bleed none the less for it.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]