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Cryptopsy have been living legends in death metal ever since their 1996 masterpiece None So Vile, widely heralded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, death metal album of all time. Founded by vocalist Lord Worm and drummer Flo Mounier in the early 90's, the band earned recognition and fame early on based primarily on the unique talents of these two men; Flo Mounier for his incredibly technical playing and the invention of the hyperblast, and Lord Worm for his distinctive style and unusually intelligent lyrics. However, after the release of None So Vile, times changed for Cryptopsy, as Lord Worm retired from the band and was replaced by what many fans feel was an inferior vocalist.
Due to the album's legendary status, many fans of None So Vile often completely ignore the rest of the bands catologue, acting as though said album was the only one the band released. In fact, there was Cryptopsy before None So Vile, and its called Blasphemy Made Flesh.
Right of the bat, does this album compare to None So Vile? Even close? No. Indeed, the Cryptopsy on display here is of an understandably less experienced and talented sort, but this is not as apparent as it is on the debut album of many legendary bands. Musically, the entire group is in fine form throughout-Flo Mounier's astonding drumming is, well, astounding even in this early stage of his career, with the only noticeable fault being the inability to keep his invention, the hyperblast, going for as long as we would see in the future. Jon Levasseur's and then-guitarist Steve Thibault's riffing and soloing are fluid and expertly played, and then-bassist Mark Fergusson consistently makes his presence known with a fine performance on the bass. As for Lord Worm, his vocals are of a distinctly different tone on this album, higher in pitch than None So Vile but still powerful, and his trademark screams are perhaps more noteworthy than the rest of his repotoir.
The songs themselves are all great, with some of them being flat out incredible. Musically, if there is one thing that seperates this album from the rest of the band's catologue, it would be the melody of the guitar work. Levasseur's riffs flow with a natural melody that was somewhat absent on None So Vile and completely gone on the rest of the band's albums. The most noteworthy examples of this also happen to be the album's best tracks: "Defenestration" begins the album with a wonky bassline before proceeding into some intense stop-start riffage and fluid melody, while following track "Abigor" displays some of the finest lead work of Levasseur's career.
Now we come to one of two classic tracks from Blasphemy Made Flesh: "Open Face Surgery". Definately the best song here, "Open Face Surgery" begins with the now famous sample clip before launching into a flat out assault of bassy riffing and blasting. Then, the song proceeds into some of the album's best melodic riffs and a spectacular, heartfelt solo by Levasseur. The climax of the track is one still talked about in death metal circles: the 28 second scream. One of the things that made Lord Worm famous and a crowning moment in his career, the track closes on the vocalist belting out a scream that can only be described as damn creepy, holding it for an astounding 28 seconds as the aformentioned melody carries the rest of the track to its blasting crescendo. In case you haven't noticed, there is a lot to like about this song, and it has since become a classic Cryptopsy track and a standard part of their setlist.
The album moves along well for the remaining tracks, with more noteworthy songs being "Memories Of Blood" and "Mutant Christ" before closing on the album's other classic track, "Pathologic Frolic". Another very melodic track, this song just fucking rocks, with the main riff being another standout and lyrics that are flatout hilarious. What really sets this song apart is the ending, with some awesome hyperblasting laying the groundwork for repeated, multilayered shouts of "AND THEN WE FUCKED IT!" This is just a great way to close the album, leaving you breathless and bewildered but with an evil grin on your face.
At this point you might be wondering why this album hasn't recieved a higher score from me, and the answer is dissapointingly simple: the production. Blasphemy Made Flesh was produced in a manner that, frankly, sucks big time. The album as a whole is mixed way too low-you'll likely be reaching for the volume nob before the first track is over. Also, the balance of the various instruments is way off here; the bass is absurdly high in the mix, often burying the guitar (!), and the same can be said for the vocals and, to a certain extent, the drums. Its a damn shame too, as few albums deserve to have a crystal clear guitar sound more than this one does. Finally, while personally not a problem for me, I can see a lot of people having an issue with the snare sound on Flo's kit, as it is rather tinny and hollow sounding sometimes. In truth, the production comes close to crucifying this release, and there are times when you will pretty annoyed at the obvious mishaps in the mixing. Whoever turned the nobs for this should be shot-even for a low budget debut album, there is no excuse for the kinds of flaws present here.
Despite this glaring (and unfortunate) problem, Blasphemy Made Flesh is an album that absolutely deserves to be in the collection of Cryptopsy fans, though for everyone else I would definately get None So Vile and Once Was Not first. While the band would improve immensly on forthcoming efforts, this release nevertheless remains a fine display of early technical death metal with a unique touch, and is a worthwhile buy for casual and hardcore fans alike, if anything based on the strength of the two or three aforementioned tracks alone. Pick this up, be patient, and marvel at the seeds that would eventually grow into one of death metal's mightiest oaks. Recommended.