CruciThis is an interesting one – having a brief scan of the CVs of the members of this outfit reveals a host of interesting (and disparate) names: Afflicted, Nasum, Maze of Torment, Crematory, Kaamos and a fair few others. Having never heard a note of Crucifyre – and with the verbose press-statement not revealing a hell of a lot about how they actually sound – the hazy mix of styles referenced above left me scratching my head somewhat. Just what sort of metal will Crucifyre deliver to these unsuspecting ears?

Pretty good stuff is the answer. ‘Apocalypse Whore’ commences proceedings and the ‘gnarly-yet-snaking’ guitars and clattering drums are a dead ringer for ‘The Sombrelain’-era Dissection. An eerie chorus of female clean choirs presents an effective and atmospheric occult ambience (with just the right touch of melodrama) before the main body of the song kicks in. With a driving chorus underpinned by a furious vocal assault, it’s like being transported back to Sweden circa 1993 in an instant.

I guess Crucifyre’s stock in trade is melodic black metal, though there’s certainly more than a dollop of Mercyful Fate’s more classic metal sensibilities added to the blasphemous pot. Some of the more sinewy guitar sections bring to mind Opthalamia’s ‘Journey In Darkness’ also. There’s undoubtedly a retro element to this material and for all the galloping furore of tracks such as ‘Through the Darkness’ or ‘Baphomet’s Revenge’, in this era of bands like Portal, Deathspell Omega and Grave Upheaval redefining the parameters of extremity, it all comes across as rather quaint and enjoyable.

This is not to damn with faint praise nor patronize – indeed, the song-writing here is top-notch and lest we forget, not every band is trying to tear off people’s faces from 50 yards. Catchiness and energy is the name of the game here and therefore, we have barnstormers such as the title track lashing us with hooks and an insistent vocal refrain from lungsman Erik ‘Tormentor’ Langstrom Closer ‘One and One is One’ meanwhile sees a return of the eerie choirs that play across the opening track and is also bedecked with searing guitar leads from ex-Mercyful Fate axeman Hank Sherman (which gives the game away a little).

‘Black Magic Fire’ therefore is a decent blast of occult metal. It isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means but provides plenty of entertainment and no small amount of well-composed hooks. With enough subtle touches to keep the listener interested, it’s worth checking out for sure.

(7.5/10 Frank Allain)