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When the subject of melodic Swedish death metal comes up, names like At the Gates, Dark Tranquility and In Flames are bandied about, but amongst the bands that sadly fell by the wayside was Crypt of Kerberos.
My rating for this album does not reflect the esteem that I place on it. It could have been higher, but the production has faults (certainly none of those faults can be attributed to the band themselves). Most of it was recorded live in the studio, and you can hear it in the occasional missing of notes and other minor mistakes, but for a live studio recording, certainly there is little more you could ask than what they were able to deliver.
The opener Canticle sets the stage for this great, forgotten album. Powerful leads and excellent riffing were certainly ahead of it's time, and the years have not taken the strength away from this recording. It still sounds unique to this day, and the vocals are excellent, sometimes sounding like Dissection's Jon Notevidt or the immortal Mikael Stanne.
The songs fluctuate from atmospheric and dreamy to heads down thrashing death metal madness. It's difficult to pick a standout track, as all of the songs are of similar quality. With a better record deal and promotion, this band could be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned Swedish giants. Unfortunately for Crypt of Kerberos, melodic (or Gothenburg style) death metal was not one of the more profitable metal ventures of the time, and they broke up.
If you enjoy Swedish styled death metal, this album was written for you - just as long as you can enjoy a record that doesn't have the shiny, polished finish that more recent releases from this country enjoy. Even if you do not mention Crypt of Kerberos when you talk about melodic death metal, they were among the first to do it, and that in itself is noteworthy.