It’s safe to say that CRYPTOPSY created a monster in the mid 90s when they assaulted the outer fringes of Death Metal with their first two studio releases with Lord Worm at the helm. Although they didn’t get beyond the typical clichés of gore and irreverent apostasy, the framework for most of the highly varied Progressive and Technical bands, and also the Grindcore infused variety, was pretty well set on their watch. Among the weirder bands to come out of this tradition is a quartet of highly ambitious musicians from Northern California with a peculiar fetish for extraterrestrial monstrosities in RINGS OF SATURN. While perhaps not quite living up to the strongly esoteric character of WORMED, they could be likened to a fancier yet slightly more intelligible and easily digested version of them, alongside a greater presence of more traditional influences.
Coming straight out of a nightmare in a Sci-Fi/Horror movie, “Embryonic Anomaly” is about as tripped out of an experience as can be found in the current cesspool of genre experimentation going on over the past few years. While the vocalizations are a fairly orthodox mix of guttural barks and high-pitched shrieks that hearken to all the essential influences from Chris Barnes to Mikael Stanne, the rest of what is heard on here is very hard to nail down into one genre, save the ambiguous Progressive one, which encompasses just about every possible category in some respect. Blistering blast sections topped off with wild sweep picking sections and other assorted shred licks make way for highly dissonant breakdown sections and even a couple of off-kilter Jazzy ballad sections and quirky keyboard moments.
Ironically enough, though there is a clear element of the virtuosic tendencies of ARSIS and NECROPHAGIST, nothing ever really crosses the line into being overtly excessive. If nothing else, the only thing that this band could be accused of having in overabundance is the dense atmospheric aesthetic that gives the feel of a perpetual plunge into infinite space. “Final Abhorrent Dream” is of particular note for its occasional departures into creepy keyboard territory that is somewhat reminiscent of both MORBID ANGEL and LIMBONIC ART. The surprises don’t end there as a flurry of mathematically precise chromatic phrases and Jazzy sounding riffs with too much distortion flies through the majority of “Embryonic Anomaly,” and “Grinding of Internal Organs” introduces a new standard of brutal insanity alongside a few video game sounds.
For a new band in a relatively crowded sub-genre, words like impressive don’t even begin to describe what is at work here. It’s not music that’s tailored for memory retention, but the lasting impression of being brutalized by an endless sea of genetically modified aliens on some distant planet will beckon any consumer of Death Metal oddities back again and again for further auditory excursions. I’m at a loss as to how this band is associated with Deathcore, but regardless to how that connection actually works, this is among the best examples of the potential that the genre can have when it is presented in a way that doesn’t simply throw unrelated parts together and is put in a context where its loosely defined nature can sound fitting. This is definitely a band to watch, and hopefully one with a long career ahead of them.
(Online March 12, 2011)