Though there are several other records which come close, Cryptopsy’s None So Vile is probably still my favorite death metal album. And when I saw them live in 2006 (with Lord Worm), it was one of the most intense displays of ferocity I’d ever seen. The band got a lot of flack for 2008’s The Unspoken King, but seemed to earn its reputation back with 2012’s self-titled record. Still, some within the band’s fanbase has remained skeptical of their ability to put out consistently excellent material. But Cryptopsy forges onward, and thanks to drummer Flo Mournier, we here at Metal Injection got to have an exclusive listen to the band’s new EP and give it a track by track review.
But before I go into each track, I’ll give you my first impressions of this recording. Basically it sounds like a mix of (mostly) Whisper Supremacy-era Cryptopsy and Despised Icon. No, I’m not kidding: go listen to “Immaculate,” “MVP” and “Silver Plated Advocate” and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Not that this should be too surprising, after all, Cryptopsy pioneered the “slam” style of death metal (along with Pyrexia and others) and this style was a big influence on bands like Despised Icon. Now I’m sure some fans will feel aversion at this: a band emulating those it influenced, the horror! But for me, well…I love Despised Icon. And I’m sure this resemblance is mostly a coincidence. I don’t think the guys in Cryptopsy sat down and self-consciously delved into The Healing Process for inspiration.
Anyway, onto the songs.
1. Detritus (The One They Kept)
After a quick (and actually pretty fitting) voice-over, we’re off to the races with wretched screams and blast-beats. The song definitely bears the trace of classic-Cryptopsy, with odd time changes, random bass interludes here and there, and frantic dissonant guitar riffs. Of all the songs here, this song is Cryptopsy at its most orthodox, even if the vocals have a distinct deathcore sound to them. Like on the self-titled record, Matt McGachy’s guttural utterances bear an inescapable resemblance to Jonny Davy’s Doom-era work (again, no complaints here from me). Without a doubt, this fantastically blistering track is the EP's finest.
2. The Knife, The Head and What Remains
More of an ominous start to this one before getting started, track 2 has more salvos of blastbeats, but with more distinct grooves and riff-work thrown in. Though Flo’s drumming here is very functional (in that it simply carries the song rather than shows-off), it’s still mind-blowing to hear a human being play the drums like this. As it progresses, the song grows steadily more frantic before landing back into the groove-blast-groove soup we started with.
3. Halothane Glow
An early-Dismember-like riff starts track three before the song cuts into an almost Chimaira-esque groove, though with a less predictable structure. Towards the middle of the song, we hear some more classic death metal riffing, an area I wish the song stuck closer to, as the rest tends to meander a little too much without a discernible narrative structure. Though there’s nothing outright contemptible about the song, it’s the least enjoyable of the four.
4. Framed by Blood
The final song on the EP opens like a standard deathcore/slam-death song (a handy guide for the difference between the two, the author shouldn’t surprise you). Of all the songs here, this one probably has the simplest structure, hell they even throw a solo in there. The song sounds like the band took the character of old songs like “Loathe” and recast it through the eyes of bands like All Shall Perish, Carnifex and old Whitechapel. Again, the band is playing in the year 2015 and is understandably trying to go for a very modern sound- this makes sounding like one’s progeny somewhat hard to avoid.
When considered as a whole, this Cryptopsy EP lands in the same territory as much of the band’s work: brutal, fun technical death metal. Though I’m willing to be fair to the band in this regard, it would do them well to try and differentiate themselves a little more from the 2006-2009 deathcore crowd they inspired. A more dramatic, rising and falling song-structure might help (“Phobophile” is a good example) to break up the predictable slam-groove-blast. However, the sheer energy of the songs should be enough to keep fans interested to hear what the band does next.
The crowdfunding campaign has a few hours left. Pre-order here.