One of those bands that needs very little introduction, CRYPTOPSY unleashes their 5th full-length studio album upon a well-prepared pubic. The much-anticipated return of Lord Worm on vocals has made this an important album for the band and all in all it’s done its job. The trademark schizo-riffing and general pandemonium that is CRYPTOPSY is here in full glory, along with some elements that are less associated with this band. The advance pirate verdict seems to be that this album is a disappointment, but this seems more a reflection of expectations (ie “None So Vile Part II”) than quality.
I have to admit at this point that I am not overly familiar with the band’s entire discography and, while I do appreciate their music, I am not a rabid fan of the band. Awe-inspiring in its technicality, their music lacks emotion and focus in my opinion; I never feel anything when listening to CRYPTOPSY (and a lot of the bands in the technical death genre) other than confusion and bemused admiration. Every time something cool starts happening they’re off somewhere else. “Once Was Not” (especially in its latter phases) radically changes this opinion. The production is excellent, if a little drum-heavy, but that is like complaining that the jack hammer is louder than the drill on a construction site.
Goddamn rights it is because it is tearing shit up. I am assured by everything I’ve read that Lord Worm is THE throat man for CRYPTOPSY and, based on the non-Worm tracks I’ve heard, I have to agree. The guitars sound good and are played extremely well with some tasty soloing hidden among the squirrelly picking. I’m crap at picking out the bass, but when it’s heard it’s well mixed and if the guy is keeping up with the machine, he rules too.
Opening with the tasteful flamenco-style acoustic piece “Luminum”, “Once Was Not” takes about a minute and half to warm up before kicking in to full-on mind assault; Lord Worm’s vocals skipping from guttural growl to pervert barking, guitars and bass creating the expected wall of barely controlled noise and Flo Mounier’s manic and disgustingly tight drumming driving the bus. This is CRYPTOPSY, no question there and the more I listened to the album, the more I began to discern elements of genius, the well placed breaks and scattered chugging mid paced riffs breaking up the speed a little here and there. While they are good tunes, nothing really blew my mind during the first 6 songs.
As intense as the first six are, the second half of the album slows down a lot, becomes more atmospheric and this is where things got interesting for me. “Keeping The Cadaver Dogs Busy” actually grooves in the middle and seems to be the agent for change on the disc. This “slower” trend continues into “Angelskingarden” with it’s almost Thrash verse and fluid lead guitar break and is (no surprise) my favourite tune. This leads into the more experimental and haunting “The Pestilence That Walketh In Darkness”. A creepy almost epic riff under a spoken word verse linked by blasting, growling passages; this seems to be the one that has diehard fans scratching their heads, but widens the appeal of the band for me. A short interesting Eastern-flavored instrumental follows before the album closer “Endless Cemetary”, which again keeps the same pace begun with song 7. Here we are treated to a doomy, keyboard accompanied riff which blends into a MAIDEN-ish guitar harmony and slowly marches towards a perfect blast beat finish.
Like any great band with a past, a new album seems to really polarize long-time fans. I think with repeated listens, anyone –speed freaks included- should be able to appreciate this for the well-rounded slab of brutality that it is. (Online December 10, 2005)