Cryptopsy‘s None So Vile turned twenty this month. A more successful turn off your brain death metal work than Cannibal Corpse, simplified and straightforward deathgrind song structures allowed each musician ample opportunity to show off and drop jaws. Unfortunately aggression and technical showmanship can only cover up for so many repetitive mosh, hit people verses, funky slap bass, and taking three steps back towards verse-chorus-verse speed metal songwriting from their inspiration Suffocation. Nevertheless, None So Vile remains worthy of the occasional, once every couple of years listen due to Jon Levasseur’s superb heavy metal leads when not caving skulls in with a rock or something and Flo Mournier’s over the top ferocity that the original Dark Legions Archive review famously compared to a police beating.
Maryland Deathfest has reorganized their festival back to their original roots. The SJW-ran Baltimore festival has finally ditched the junkie-surrounded, crust-filled parking lot with the awful PAs and returned to being an indoor only event. Moreover, they have packed all the idiot stoner hard rock bands into one venue on Thursday night so the organizers may collect sludge dollars and metal heads may avoid them. Among the notable bands announced today were Vader, Cryptopsy, War Master, Insect Warfare, and Morbid Saint.
When you’re like us and operate on the assumption that most metal music is bad (or at least mediocre), you probably want to avoid Cannibal Corpse, since they’re still kind of the poster child of lame albeit studio-proficient death metal. In case you don’t, you can always see them on their upcoming US tour. As mentioned in the title, Obituary, Cryptopsy, and Abysmal Dawn will be supporting them. The first two bands in that selection admittedly produced some good content in their early days, but seem to be operating at a similar level of tired rehashes these days. Tickets will go on sale this Friday (December 11th), so you should soon be able to ignore our warning if you feel doing so is absolutely necessary.
Would it be too brief to say that The Book of Suffering is like older Cryptopsy, but not quite as good? Probably not. Cryptopsy’s legacy after 1996 appears to be one of steady decay and loss of focus, although you could be forgiven for placing too much importance on the aberration that was The Unspoken King. Bands that aren’t able to jump to a new trend successfully often retreat to what they know, hence this utterly safe and sterile EP. It’s almost as if Cryptopsy wasn’t merely imitating None So Vile, possibly with some brief intrusions from more recent albums, but that the only song they’d heard by previous band lineups was that album’s introductory track (“Crown of Horns”), and that this EP was an effort to imitate that specifically.
Cryptopsy wastes no time in trying to forge the appropriate links in your brain. The spoken intro to “Detritus” (which is so obviously self-referential that it will probably insult you) made me suspect that the band was about to blast and scream, and from then on not a moment passed that wasn’t analogous to something off None So Vile. The overall effect evenly splits between being more orderly and more chaotic than this EP’s obvious inspiration. 20 years of studio experience understandably make for a more precise performance, as does the apparent use of a template. On the other hand, the Cryptopsy of the past had a better understanding of how to glue riffs together to create narrative and contrast in their songs. This incarnation of the band isn’t quite there yet and often uses breakdowns laden with pinch harmonics instead. Furthermore, None So Vile drew on a greater palette of musical language; part of this is that Lord Worm was a more versatile vocalist in his prime than Matt McGachy; a greater part is that Cryptopsy wasn’t relying merely on themselves as a template. Funny then, that this problem should also happen to another one of today’s reviews…
In summary, the main problem with The Book of Suffering is that it’s uninspired, more than that it’s pseudorandom. Cryptopsy knows how to sound as if they are about to collapse into random noise at any moment without actually doing so, but they don’t do much of interest with this approach. Maybe if they hadn’t burnt themselves playing with the metalcore fire, this wouldn’t be a problem, although the amount of people looking forwards to a second The Unspoken King has to be rather less than those who will nonetheless accept The Book of Suffering as a continuation of form, if not necessarily substance.
Getting into underground metal styles has never been a straightforward thing for anyone. The exception might be the Cannibal Corpse crowd that approach this music as fix for a certain mood, but see little beyond the most sensual appeal of the music. For those actually trying to appreciate the music anywhere beyond the surface either in a technical manner, it’s significance or the experience it provides beyond simple monochromatic sensual indulgence, the path consists of several steps in not one path but a multitude of paths that conform to the singular state and journey of each listener.
The present list does not attempt to give a template that will fit all as that is impossible. It is simplistic in its attempt to generalize and exemplify. The most important starting assumption is that the listener is at least fond of traditional heavy metal or hard rock in the worse case. I tried to avoid using of overtly offensive gateway bands like Craddle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir or Arch Enemy but these should not be completely discarded as possibilities to enable a smooth and pleasant transition into death and black metal.
For this example of a road map towards understanding and appreciation of death metal I have distinguished five different steps with suitable albums as follows:
I. Easy-going quasi death metal
- Carcass – Heartwork
- Entombed – Left Hand Path
II. Welcoming and easy-to-understand simple death metal that is only complex on a local level and so can inspire a sense of technical wonder in the listener while maintaining mood.
- Death – Spiritual Healing
- Adramelech – Psychostasia
- Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes
III. Excellent, but mostly on a technical level, with raw power and refinement in style, solid and well-produced albums that do not transcend their technical aspects
- Morbid Angel – Covenant
- Cryptopsy – None so Vile
- Vader – Litany
IV. Authentic, representative of the core of the death metal spirit while being original
- Demilich – Nespithe
- Deicide – Legion
- Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten
V. Completely past appearances and technical infatuation, almost on the spiritual level of true and good black metal
- At the Gates – The Red in the Sky is Ours
- Immolation – Unholy Cult
- Gorguts – Obscura
Tech-death gurus Cryptopsy have released a 45-second teaser video for their forthcoming EP, The Book of Suffering: Tome 1. Tome 1 is the first in a planned series of EPs collectively titled The Book of Suffering. Check out the teaser video at this location.
- 5/14 WORCESTER, MA @ RALPH’S ROCK DINER
- 5/15 TRENTON, NJ @ CHAMPIONSHIP BAR & GRILL
- 5/16 NEW YORK, NY @ NIHIL GALLERY
- 5/17 AMITYVILLE, NY @ REVOLUTION
- 5/18 BALTIMORE, MD @ BALTIMORE SOUNDSTAGE
- 5/19 VIRGINIA BEACH, VA @ SHAKAS LIVE
- 5/20 ATLANTA, GA @ MASQUERADE
- 5/21 SANFORD, FL @ WEST END TRADING CO.
- 5/22 MIAMI, FL @ CHURCHILL’S
- 5/23 PENSACOLA, FL @ THE HANDLEBAR
- 5/24 SAN ANTONIO, TX @ KOROVA
- 5/25 AUSTIN, TX @ DIRTY DOG
- 5/26 DALLAS, TX @ GAS MONKEY
- 5/27 KANSAS CITY, MO @ RIOT ROOM
- 5/28 DES MOINES, IA @ VAL AIR BALLROOM
- 5/29 CREST HILL, IL @ BADA BREW
- 5/30 CUDAHY, WI @ METAL BAR
- 5/31 CLEVELAND, OH @ AGORA
Progressive death metal band Defect Designer announce their signing with Sleazy Rider record label.The band has posted artwork for upcoming album Ageing Accelerator. Artwork is done by Seth Siro Anthon, famous for his work with Soilwork, Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Sybreed and other acts.
Cryptopsy rose to prominence in the mid-1990s with None So Vile, an album of blasting terror which utilized the style created by New York’s Suffocation to make simpler and more direct songs incorporating a rock/blues influence.
Although the band’s last decade or so has been spent trying to pursue modern metal styles, the “Ungentle Exhumation” demo showed them in the style of their first album (Blasphemies Made Flesh) but with the manic intensity of None So Vile.
It is thus considered by many Canadian death metal watchers to be the definitive Cryptopsy work. It can be purchased from the Cryptopsy bandcamp page for $8 CAD.