Crushing Sun - Tao

Portugal’s Crushing Sun comes tagged as death-metal, yet exterior signs suggest that I’m not before a standard death-metal group. There’s no blasphemous title or a disgustingly repulsive album cover here, those typical attributes that almost everyone within the genre uses to gain credibility and a bad-ass image.
Naming your album “Tao”, which is a Chinese word based on a fundamental principle of Taoism that roughly means the road or path, and choosing a surrealist cover art that could’ve been drawn by someone like Salvador Dali are clear indicators that Crushing Sun have opted not to follow the overbeaten death-metal path.
Indeed, “Tao” is everything but a run-of-the-mill blast and growl, tremolo picked death-metal record, and that’s precisely one of the more refreshing things about it, the Portuguese act have gone against the grain, incorporating other nuances and textures into their song-writing, yet still maintaining the punch and razor-sharp delivery of archetypical death-metal.
There are moments amongst these eleven songs that remind me of a more organic and claustrophobic Gojira, as both bands dedicate themselves to write thoughtful and challenging music that still sounds oppressive and fearful.
Each song on the album is great, there’s zero filler and a few are even spectacular. “Rain” for instance erupts with a gargantuan force and a tremendous groove that’s capable of making the foundations of a solid building tremble. “Cantilever” is more of the same, balancing lethargic and dissonant chords with a palm muted crushing groove and pounding drums. It’s on the third theme “The End”, which spans for almost seven minutes that Crushing Sun take a surprising turn into the textural and absorbing universe of Neurosis, it starts with acoustic guitars in a gentle manner then abruptly develops into a dynamic wall of sound hovering between slow, crushing riffs and calmer, contemplative ambiences. “Jane’s Trail” is another excursion into the dark depths of Neurosis’ post-metal, boasting a remarkable dichotomy between crushing tones and soothing harmonies. “T’hatcher” is up next with a relentless fury that sends us back into a Gojira-styled framework.
Overall, although “Tao” requires repeated listens to fully unravel and appreciate, it’s a good, honest and cerebral first album from a band evidently capable of becoming one of most interesting musical propositions this old continent has to offer.

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For fans of: Gojira, Neurosis, Hacride, Morbid Angel