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Another of Razorback's excellent signings, Crypticus delivers its sophomore effort with finesse. The band is a single man, Patrick Bruss, who performs all the instruments, with the exception of drums which are programmed (but never intrusive at all, they are repressed in the mix just enough). The style here is a mixture of creepy old school death and thrash metal with Bruss' unique guttural vocals and a flair for kitsch horror. I've often compared this band to Deceased, except more brutal, and that holds very true here. The album reminds me a lot of something like Fearless Undead Machines for its proof of concept, in this case the tale of a mad scientist.
While Dedicated to the Impure was a great debut album, this is better. The songs are brutal and catchy, the guitar riffs are sick, the sample clips add just enough silliness to the horror concept. Tracks like "Astrophobos" and "Rotting Masters" rock out with vile and kinetic energy, adorned in doom driven melodic leads. "Lurkers in the Lab" and "Moat of Blood" are perfect examples of mad scientist metal. "Unnatural Science" just lays waste to the listener with its flowing, proto-80s death thrashing rhythms.
The production on the album has a pretty boxy feel to it, doesn't sound quite like anyone else in death metal that I'm aware of right now. Whatever process Bruss is using to put this material together, it works well, and he manages to recall a lot of retro influence without being some simple clone band. They Called Me Mad! is yet another score for Razorback, a label that is literally on fire right now. Fans of fellow roster acts Ghoul, Lord Gore and Blood Freak will truly chew this up, as will any death metal fan with a taste for silly old black and white horror films starring Vincent Price. Probably the best death or thrash you will hear from Colorado. Good times here.
As Crypticus is one of my favorite Denver metal bands, I feel obligated to review this release. 'They Called Me Mad!' shows a ton of progression, which is exactly what I was looking for after 'Dedicated to the Impure'. The progression and use of other musicians is what really makes this full length enjoyable. Any fan of Razorback Records bands will love this release..especially those horror music junkies.
Patrick has shown that he is a capable guitar player in this output. The music is much more riffy than in 'Dedicated to the Impure'. With that being said, it's not as redundant. You can listen to the songs for a longer period of time without wanting to hit the skip button. I think only having one guitar in your music means that you must adapt to make your music more solid. You have to keep it interesting, and away from one to two riffs in a four to five minute song. Accordingly, Patrick has achieved this goal, which easily places his music near the top for my favorites in the Denver area since I live there. Also, there's even more experimentation, as Patrick has decided to nail guitar solos in his music. It's the perfect ending to such brutal music, very climatic. I think 'Rotting Masters' is the best example of that. Also, another major improvement is on the vocals. They aren't muffled like they were on 'Dedicated to the Impure'. It really improved the music when the vocals were brought more towards the front of the mix, rather than being shoved near the back. Patrick is a really good grunter, so you won't be let down down his vocal skill. Another great addition to this album are real drums. The music is a ton better with a real drummer in the mix. It's amazing how much having the sound of a real kit can increase the awesomeness of your music. The drummer that Patrick acquired has done his job very well, and I hope he uses him on the music that will come in the future. On a smaller side note, you'll still be hearing those random, creepy keyboard parts. It really adds that horror effect into the music, and with Razorback bands, you come to expect something like that. If it isn't a Slasher worship band, it's something like this.
Crypticus is on the road of progression, and I've enjoyed listening to this album. It's a great release, and surpasses 'Dedicated to the Impure' by a mile. If you were into older Crypticus, this is worth every second of your time. If you're new to Crypticus, I'd advise you to check his music out on the basis that the music is more intelligent than a lot of underground bands around the world. Professional production, creative writing, and musical skill. That's what Crypticus has, and that's what I and many other metalheads enjoy hearing.
Banding together with other people who enjoy the same thing, then fighting against people who enjoy what looks like a pretty similar thing at first glance, but which is actually pretty different if you have a thorough knowledge of the subject at hand: truly, this activity is the cornerstone of all human endeavors, from religion, to politics, even to art, as we see here.
Razorback Records are on a rampage to destroy tech death and deathcore and whatever else it is that ingrate kids listen to these days. I support their overall mission (and roster!) while still retaining some ambivalence. I don't need for my death metal to be quite that catchy quite that badly, most of the time, and tech stuff is okay. Anyway, Crypticus is geared a bit more toward my biases than most of Razorback's roster. Hear it from the man himself:
Patrick: I set out to create an album meant just for headphones.
Every song leads right into the next one & there's a lot more weird,
progressive riffs & atmospheres than before.
Strange interludes, snippets of macabre dialogue & more creepy keyboard parts!
The title track alone has almost as many riffs as the whole first album.
Instrumentally it's much crazier than before, but it's all meant to create a circus of horrors in the mind of the listener.
Yes, cool. That's what I want! Crazy and horrific. Bear in mind that, in usual Razorback fashion, this is horrific more in the sense of a B-movie than in the sense of watching your entire family get stabbed to death, and as death metal goes, it's intended to be progressive in comparison to Entombed, not Cynic and Sleep Terror. That latter point should be considered to the band's credit, since the point of the weirdness is to set the proper mad science ambiance and feel weird, not win the Death Metal Weirdness Olympics, which is a dumb event that I am boycotting.
As a matter of fact, some of the songs tucked away in the middle album are fairly to-the-point death metal in the old Scandinavian style, the main strange thing about them being a slight squeaky-hinge quality to the riffs, as opposed to more regular rhythmic bludgeoning of Entombed or Dismember. I would take them over the more faithful tributes to old school death metal that seem to be proliferating at the moment.
The album really takes off on the last track, though, when the riffs reach their maximum level of squeaky-hinge-ness and the carnival keyboards become a lead instrument. This is the title track referred to in the quote from Patrick above, and it's the best track on the album, easily and by far.
Having said that, this isn't a bunch of songs, it's an album, and finishing with a strong climax adds something to listening experience as a whole. While rock-solid and catchy death metal on the one hand, it's a great atmospheric nighttime listen on the other.
Let us come straight to the point.
The weird choice of speed is what I can’t seem to digest. It’s simply beyond what they can control and are doing it probably just to sound like how they imagined. Who doesn’t like speed, but sometimes it’s better to slow things down a little, you know what I mean? There are absolutely no tempo changes here at all, not even the slightest. The same boring shit keeps going on and on.
With a label like Razorback, it’s kinda hard to believe that the production is bad. But, well, it is. It’s muffled, consistently irritating (the tone, the distortion, everything), and at points, unbearably painful (the pinch harmonics, tremolo riffs etc.). I can hardly hear the vocals, but then, what I can hear is terrible too, so good choice I guess. :/
The guitar work isn’t quite creative either. Not that the riffs are bad, they just don’t click at any point. The power chord ones are okay, but the tremolo ones are too basic to praise. The drums sound like a staple machine and compared to the guitar, I’d say these could have been a little louder as well.
I can’t seem to understand why such an amateurish, confused, chaotic effort is being praised everywhere. Its pure noise and its rightful place is the garbage can.
CRYPTICUS has done it again! With the release of P.E. Bruss and company's sophomore album entitled "THEY CALLED ME MAD!!", CRYPTICUS has yet again managed to pull the listeners even closer to the abyss of hell this time around. The album is composed of twelve strategically placed tracks of unremitting death thrash radiance. There are absolutely no pauses between songs, each one picks up right where its predecessor left off, offering nearly forty minutes of nonstop dismally and provocatively bone chilling music.
The guitars and drums are as technical and tight as thrash comes these days. Every second of this album was obviously well planned out and methodically put together. Though some people may argue that lead work should always stand out from the rest of the music, I feel that burying the solos within the mix of the album was a spectacular idea, and only helps add to the undeniable darkness of this particular release.
The lyrics of this album are one of its strongest features in my opinion. They offer so much depth and are so compellingly supernatural. The feeling that they radiate from the album are nothing short of true terror, as each song places a ghastly horrifying image in your head. With a fantastically gruesome cover and layout, and a uniquely wretched sounding production, CRYPTICUS's THEY CALLED ME MAD!! is one of the best death thrash albums in years. For fans of fast paced horror metal, this record is seemingly flawless!
~courtesy of GRIND ON!! Webzine
Crypticus from Denver, Colorado really do capture the essence and spirit of arcane death metal, in the vein of Demilich and the sound of pure gory death metal like Avulsed. Both bands, among an army of others are cited as influences and Crypticus lie in between aforementioned Finnish fossils Demilich and Welsh DM savages Desecration.
Mastermind Patrick Bruss who plays all instruments normally (apart from drums on this latest record), is another unstoppable one man talent machine on Razorback after the insatiable Maniac Neil who pioneers the excellent Frightmare and Blood Freak.
What may be a problem for Crypticus is shedding the almost comedy aspect of the Razorback b-movie horror and transmundane themes they embrace. The samples and occasional keyboards might deter some and take away from the macabre impact of the album.
Fortunately for those who care to listen, like a favourite death metal gem from over a decade ago, dusted off and pulled out of the crypt They Called Me Mad is inventive as it is dedicated to its sound. Essentially this is murky death metal that never loses its posture or its momentum, but with added bonus of a mad scientist or carnival of freaks perspective.
Now, we know what Crypticus is all about, but how it rates is the key question. Doubtless this is a good idea. And it’s pulled of with some panache. Having bass so visceral, like the bass on Nespithe (which does not take a back seat) and the Swedish crush and groove of numbers like “Plasmic Eaters” is almost unbearably good.
Crazy, pounding, dirty and occult death metal which pulsates with grime its veins just the way it should be. If you like your metal rife with the stench of death, rock out this year with The Called Me Mad. For sheer density of quality riffs and the stamina to sustain this level over the whole record Crypticus deserve much kudos.