Messiah / A new wind is blowing with Christus Hypercubus

Brace yourselves for incoming. Groundbreaking Swiss Death/Thrash Metal legends Messiah are set to unleash their latest extreme offering, Christus Hypercubus, the follow-up to 2020’s Fracmont and their seventh studio full length in their on/off forty-year existence.

Messiah – Christus Hypercubus (High Roller Records)

Release Date: 1 March 2024

Words: Jools Green

Founded in 1984 by guitarist Remo Brögi, Messiah have not been without their obstacles to overcome. Multiple hiatuses, line-up changes and the death of a former vocalist just twelve months after quitting the band, from a heart attack on 4 November 2022. Then fate struck again as drummer Steve had a skiing accident during the creative period of Christus Hypercubus, putting him out of action for over six months.

But dogged determination overcomes, and with new vocalist Marcus Seebach bringing a fresh dimension to their sound, Messiah are set to launch themselves into a fresh chapter.

“We did it like we usually do it,” laughs Brögi. “We just wrote and recorded the songs without thinking too much about it, very spontaneously. Circumstances were a bit more complicated, though, this time around because, as mentioned earlier, we were not all together in the rehearsal room arranging the material.

“And our second guitarist V.O. wrote some songs on his own as well. A very special mix, I would say, the new material is harder and faster than Fracmont. There is also a new touch due to Marcus’ singing. He is capable of doing these high screams, which I like a lot. V.O. has created some striking guitar parts and was responsible for great arrangements.

“I think Christus Hypercubus represents our new situation very well. A new wind is blowing, but we have not lost any of the established Messiah trademarks of old.”

Messiah - Christus Hypercubus - A unique quality and a freshness to the sound.
Messiah – Christus Hypercubus – A unique quality and a freshness to the sound.

Christus Hypercubus is an album that should conjure up a lot of attention from old fans and gain new ones. It’s a fascinating listen with a unique quality and a freshness to the sound.

Opening track Sikhote Alin, inspired by the enormous iron meteorite in excess of 23 tonnes, which fell on the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in southeastern Russia on the morning of 12 February 1947, has a superb eerie and otherworldly sound to open.

As the track progresses, it builds in ominous thundery crashes. I’m immediately hugely impressed by Marcus Seebach’s vocal delivery: raw, thunderously deep and here, fittingly eerie. This is a hugely engaging opening piece with a fascinatingly visual quality to both the music and lyrics, an impactful track in more ways than one.

The title track, Christus Hypercubus, finds inspiration from a completely different source. This time, Salvador Dalí’s 1954 nontraditional, oil-on-canvas painting, a surrealist portrayal of the Crucifixion, depicting Christ on a polyhedron net of a tesseract, or hypercube. It is one of his best-known paintings from the later period of his career.

The song is, again, a punchy beast of a track with a mesmerising repeat that builds with urgency. The vocals are deep and eerie, with screams delivered with an unnerving gargle, which is both effective and impactful. Where the pace drops, some of the guitar work reflects classical Spanish guitar but with a Metal interpretation, and the leadwork has a decidedly thrashy squeal.

Once Upon A Time… NOTHING is an insane onslaught from the offset. Opening on squealing thrashy leads that repeat, deathly driving riffs and a brutally raw and deep vocal assault upon your senses. The repeated phrase “Once Upon A Time… NOTHING!” impacts with menace, and even when the pace drops just after midway, it still packs a punch with spoken vocals that build in speed and aggression, thrashy riffs and a brutally impactful undercurrent. Definitely an attention-grabbing track.

The pace drops back to a crawl for Speed Sucker Romance, a track that is as dark, eerie and sinister as it is sleazy. The vocals are delivered with unnervingly ominous intent, and even the leadwork has a slow, eerie quality. Messiah demonstrate they can impact with heavy force without having to do so at full throttle whilst also showcasing some unusual guitar work.

Centipede Bite ramps the pace back up to a thrashy driving onslaught sandwiched between blasts of driving death riffs. The soaring swathe of leadwork that emerges just before the halfway mark is rather impressive, too, pausing for a drop away only to return with even more soaring force.

The brief but impactfully to the point, Please Do Not Disturb (While I’m Dying) opens with the ominous sound of a beating heart. It builds gently to clean guitarwork, slow bass lines, eerie leads and whispered deep spoken vocals. The final line, “Now I know, please let me go….” features the sound of flatlining.

Bringing the pace back up again, Soul Observatory is a driving chigger with bags of punch, fascinatingly unusual riffs and melodic swathes of gravelly, well protracted vocals that are both sung and spoken. The soaring lead bursts, ebb and build, and the direction shifts will surprise you in their application. Everything about this track is delightfully non-standard and unpredictable. A superbly unique and “outside of the box” piece of music.

Also, an exciting mixed bag is Acid Fish. Opening on an addictive “rocking repeat” overlayered with an impactfully delivered spoken word, which is here and elsewhere on the album delivered by Remo. It flips into a thrashy chug, then ramps up to a death gallop and switches between these two for the duration of the track. It is punctuated and elevated by two extensive blasts of second-half soaring leadwork with the ever-present unnerving sung vocals from Marcus.

The final two pieces are The Venus Baroness I, which has an exotic eastern feel that continues within the eerie chugging riffs, complemented by the harsh vocal delivery with repeated bursts of exotically tinged leadwork. The sound intensifies as it progresses, then fades out and reemerges with a spoken soundbite as The Venus Baroness II.

This continues in the same lyrical theme. However, gone is the exotic feel. Instead, it has a darker opening mood and repeat riff. This is, overall, darker, more eerie and more crushing than the predecessor, with a suitably sinister intonation to the vocal delivery. Two different tracks, both superb listens, and both with a subtle link to each other.

Christus Hypercubus is a superb offering, a grippingly good listen end to end, full of fascinating content, delivered superbly.

It clearly demonstrates that decades on, Messiah are still a Metal force to be reckoned with.

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