Written by Ellis Heasley
Cruelty – There Is No God Where I Am
Metallic hardcore from England, UK
Released April 30th, 2021
Via Church Road Records
Arguably starting in around 2015 with Employed To Serve’s Greyer Than You Remember, the UK hardcore scene has been on the form of its life for a little while now. Many great records have followed in its footsteps, most of them with a healthy dose of adoration for the glory days of late 90s and early 00s metallic hardcore. Cruelty’s There Is No God Where I Am is definitely another such record, and one which more than earns its place on that incredibly strong list.
The band set the scene with “An Introduction.” Opening with buzzing feedback and menacing lone toms, we hear vocalist Shaafi Parvez scream the album’s title before Cruelty come crashing in with a short burst of violent sludge. It’s bleak, oppressive stuff, as are the 11 tracks which follow. After the opener, “A Lie That Makes Life Bearable” launches us into crusty and chaotic metallic hardcore. This is definitely the primary gear the five-piece operate in on this record, with high energy D-beats, manic riffing, and ever-changing ideas and sections.
There’s no question this record owes a heavy debt to Converge – which is always a good thing – but the quality of what’s on offer, coupled with the mix of other obvious influences, means There Is No God… never ends up feeling derivative. As well as metallic hardcore, there’s certainly a touch of death metal in the mix; particularly in moments like the slow, dissonant intro to “If There Is A God, He Does Not Believe Me” or the swampy stomp of eighth track “To The Ground.” There are also more experimental flashes of noise and industrial at the end of several tracks, including “Crimson Eye”, “If There Is A God…”, “Mine” and “Starve.”
As well as all this, one of the coolest tools in Cruelty’s arsenal on There Is No God… is definitely the lead guitar work. This often adds an extra element to the band’s raging riffs and breakdowns, and there are even solos on tracks like “Spiritual War”, “Dead Culture” and “Barren Land In Bloom.” Its features like these which set Cruelty apart from many others. At times, they draw comparisons to the frenzied mania of a band like The Dillinger Escape Plan, while at others they lend the record an unsettling sense of atmosphere which pairs perfectly with its sheer violence.
It’s hard to pick highlights on There Is No God…. Everything on it is great. It definitely feels like a case of saving the best till last however, as the album is brought to a masterful and emotional close with its final and title track. This seven-minute piece starts, like much of the rest of the record, with a visceral Converge-esque savagery. It stays there for a while before dropping to something far quieter around the three minute mark. Here, clean guitars and delicate ride cymbals combine with ominous strings for a lengthy meditative section which sets up a crushing final minute or so. The command of dynamics is stunning, with the relative quiet making things feel that much more devastating when the band come thundering back in to close the song and the record.
Overall, There Is No God… is a mature, gripping debut. It pays tribute to some of the best to ever do it, whilst still allowing a sense of Cruelty’s own identity to shine through. With the band still just getting started, the prospects of what they might go on to are particularly eye-watering. In the meantime though, with this album Cruelty are yet another band who spoil us for choice when it comes savage, uncompromising and creative hardcore.