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After almost 20 years, Pulverised Records this year releases Swedish death metal band Crypt of Kerberos‘ debut (and sole) full length album, World of Myths. On top of the tracks that were included in the album, the band has also included a number of older tracks from their catalogue, allowing both people who are encountering Crypt of Kerberos‘ music for the first time and fans of the band to have a complete musical experience of the band. The early 90s being the prime time of the Swedish style of death metal got me slightly worried that this would be yet another of those Entombed and Nihilist emulators.
Perhaps because of such an expectation, World of Myths proved to be a rather surprising listen. Sure, the Swedish-style and influences are still present, seeing their country of origin and the fact that this was the early years of Swedish death metal. However, Crypt of Kerberos has at the same time included numerous other elements that make their music stand out, such as some doom and progressive influences that can be clearly heard in their music. For example, despite the riffing styles on Cyclone of Insanity that at times remind listeners of classic Swedish death metal, the band has a heavier take on their music, and there are moments when the band goes into doom-paced moments, crushing the listener under the intensity that is present.
However, as the album progresses, the more melodic and somewhat technical take on early death metal become clearer. For example, there is a high emphasis on the melodic aspects of the music with the lead guitars that are rather prominent throughout the album. As well, the guitar melodies that are unleashed by guitarists Peter and Jonas can also be rather haunting, and at times reek of Eastern influence, giving a unique touch to the listening experience. Such external influences are even clearer with the flamenco-styled shredding that is also present towards the end of Cyclone of Insanity. Furthermore, songs like The Canticle make use of clean vocals to bring out the sense of desperation on the track. Sure, there are aggressive moments on the album like on the riffing on Ancient War, but these are rather few and the band seem to make use of these to enhance the melodic aspects of the music instead.
But I guess what really stood out for me personally on World of Myths are the lead guitar work on the album, at times really sounding and feeling like an instrumental rock album, such as the neo-classical feel on the intro of The Canticle, almost tricking the listener into thinking that this is a neo-classical album with the style and atmosphere, then surprising him again with the sudden transition into a more aggressive death metal mode. The neo-classical influence is especially clear on the instrumental track Sleeping God, with the sweep-picking that is heavily used throughout. On this track as well, the band’s emphasis on the atmospheric aspect of their music is also shown with the heavy keyboards that are present. Other times, the lead guitars are used to create the haunting atmosphere with the uneasy melodies, providing a double role as an atmospheric instrument. That said though, there are times when the leads sound slightly messy, and these unfortunately mar the experience slightly.
The bonus material on the reissue of the album include some of the demo versions of the songs that are on the original full length, and show how these ideas were conceived and how they initially sounded like during the demo period, and would certainly be a nice addition to fans of the band. The raw production quality and sound of these bonus tracks also add a particular charm to the songs, giving them a more energetic feel compared to those that made it to the final cut of the album, though lacking in details at times. For example, on The Canticle, the vocals were mixed so low that one has to strain in order to hear them.
This album, being originally in 1993, was perhaps overlooked with the plethora of bands releasing music that leaned more towards the classic Swedish style, and for not being brutal enough to match their compatriots. However, the innovation that Crypt of Kerberos has put into World of Myths is undeniable, and could have perhaps been one of the earliest of their time attempting such a style, despite the rather raw quality of the music (both production and songwriting-wise). Fans of old-school Swedish death metal may dislike the album all they want, but this would definitely please those looking for a more melodic, shred-friendly and unique take on death metal that was produced in the early 90s.