Before I begin talking about this album, let us quickly recap the events that led to this.
After the departure of Mike DiSalvo, CRYPTOPSY recruited Martin Lacroix, who did the vocals on their live album “None So Live”. However, during the writing for the follow-up, the band kicked him out because he couldn’t communicate in English properly, which is a must for an international band. Lord Worm came back in 2003 which made many a fan squeal with glee. However, sometime in 2004, it was announced that Jon Levasseur, a key songwriter and the guitar player for 12 years, was leaving the band, which many saw as a huge blow to the band. Still, CRYPTOPSY picked up the pieces and wrote “Once Was Not”, a solid album. All seemed to be going fine in the land of CRYPTOPSY. The old singer was back, the band was forging on strong, the future seemed bright.
In 2007, out of the blue, Lord Worm left (or got kicked out, depending on what story you read), and people started getting worried about the direction Flo and co. wanted to take the band when he put out ads saying that the band was looking for a keyboardist and a vocalist that can sing and growl. As one can tell, this led to a lot of people wondering what the fuck Flo was smoking, yet others (*ahem*yours truly *ahem*) kept an open mind and saw this as potential evolution for the band.
Matt McGachy was announced as their new vocalist. This news was met with groans. Matt McGachy, the vocalist of 3 MILE SCREAM, a fucking Metalcore band (a bad one at that), fronting a trailblazer in the Death Metal genre? What the fuck? Still, I didn’t write them off just yet, praying that CRYPTOPSY didn’t make a grave mistake choosing this guy to front the band.
Then, a couple of months ago, some dude on some message board found some leaked tracks, hosted them on a site, and the link spread like wildfire over the net. To say that people were shocked and dismayed would be like saying that the Star Wars movies made a bit more money than Battlefield Earth. It didn’t help CRYPTOPSY’s situation when the first song most people heard was “Bemoan The Martyr”, which is a fucking turd, but the shockwaves were heard loud. The CRYPTOPSY that released “None So Vile” was dead. There was no point denying it. A HUGE backlash came from the (former) fans, and people wound up crucifying the album with rusty old nails and spitting on it like the Saudia Arabian government spits on the notion of women’s rights.
So, out of curiosity, I asked to be sent the promo of this album. The first three songs, to be completely honest, felt like the band returning to their Disalvo days. It had that Hardcore mixed with Extreme Metal feeling those albums have. The riffs and song structures themselves are pretty haphazard and random, but with that underlying string of logic that holds it all together. It’s just that the riffs, this time around, are not as memorable as what CRYPTOPSY is known for. There is nothing special about them beyond the heavy, disjointed and technical aspect. There are also moments with some sweep picking, using that technique in a way that most current Tech Death bands do: to cover up for lack of ideas. Still, the songs are not bad, and “Silence The Tyrants” is actually good, with a good breakdown and some finger bending riffs that are memorable. And a keyboard interlude, which doesn’t completely sound of out place. What in the hell were all those people on the internet bitching about? “The Unspoken King” has the potential to be a good record. Great if you take out the atrocious vocals! Unfortunately, that marks the end of the good bits on the album, because it goes straight downhill from there, and does not make it out of the “bad” territory.
“Bemoan the Martyr” starts off with some samples, then a cool, if simple, bass line that segues into…something similar to what the DEFTONES (!!!!!!!) would write. The song then goes into the reckless and haphazard mess of aimless riffs with no structure nor logic applied to the arrangement, and then goes back to the cleanly sung chorus with absolutely zero logical segue. “Leach” has another one of these awkward and out of place clean choruses, only this time it is worse because there a growling track backing the clean vocals, which makes this messy and chaotic. Every song from here on (except for “Anoint The Dead”) has some badly sung clean chorus which is totally out of place. For one, the clean vocals are nasally and whiny, so they are distracting. For two, the transitions into said part make little to no sense, so it sounds like poor song craftsmanship. I could also complain about how it’s not CRYPTOPSY to have clean parts, but I’m sure the reaction towards said parts would be a lot more positive if the singing was good and the transitions made some sense. Oh yea, the keyboards are almost an afterthought on the record, being used mostly for sound effects and the occasional clean part, but they are mostly absent throughout the record. The keyboard playing is just…there, with nothing special about it.
The biggest problem with the record isn’t what it brings to the table, but how everything is assembled once it’s laid out. The riffs do have some quality to them, but any notion of structuring the song in a sensible way is thrown out the window. Of course, you COULD argue that about most good Technical Death Metal bands anyway, let’s compare “None So Vile” to “The Unspoken King”, just in terms of song structure. Yes, both albums have very out-there and unconventional song structures. However, in the case of “None So Vile”, there was a thin thread of logic keeping everything together, and after a few listens, you notice how this makes sense. This new album has none at all, just some riffs strung together, with this approach working sometimes but often not.
The biggest question this album arises is whether or not this was meant to be a sellout in order to jump on the current Deathcore/Metalcore/Whatevercore bandwagon, or if the band is doing what they want to do, trends and popularity be damned. Rooting for the sellout argument doesn’t make much sense, especially when looked at a band like METALLICA or, to a lesser extent, IN FLAMES. The two latter bands decided to tone down the amount of guitar riffs and melodies (or dumb down the music, depending on who you ask) for the sake of accessibility and the addition of “Pop sensibility”. To a listener that knows nothing about Metal, there is a clear difference between “Disposable Heroes” and “Until It Sleeps”. I don’t get that feeling from “The Unspoken King”. The songs still have as many riffs as before, and the pace is often very hectic, just like their older material. The aural assault is still here. The quality of the music (and the vocals) isn’t. So the “sellout theory” is thrown right out the window, so the other conclusion would be that CRYPTOPSY truly believes the band actually feels that this music is the evolution of their sound, which makes a bit of sense in some weird way (making their sound a tad more accessible but still keeping the chaos), but it’s so disheartening to see them lose what put them on the top of the Death Metal pack in the first place: The great SONGS, as brutality will only take you so far. Songs which are absent here.
I can only wait to see how they follow this up. Maybe Flo Mounier understands the criticism sent his way, realizes why the album was so poorly received and gets his shit together, which would result in the band erasing the mistake they made with this album and release a quality album. I’m not holding my breath, though, after reading some of his comments.
It’s hard letting go and accepting with the fact that something you loved has changed so much, but it is a fact of life.
(Online July 2, 2008)