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A League of Their Own - 95%

Five_Nails, August 24th, 2009

Where most death metal bands can be categorized as brutal death metal, melodic death metal, blackened death metal, technical death metal etc including -cores and -grinds, Cryptopsy is that black sheep that is so completely unique in every way that their music is a category of their own. On the Metal Archives they are considered technical death metal, but the implication of a statement like that brings thoughts of dry production, monotone drumming, guitar wankery to the hilt, terrible vocals, and few endearing points other than random riffs that it doesn’t capture the sheer intensity of Cryptopsy. It’s not just Lord Worm’s indecipherable vocals that make Cryptopsy’s “Blasphemy Made Flesh” so unique, but every element of the album is so perfectly placed that it makes the frantic chaos have as much order as a cocktail party.

Did I mention that this album is intense? If you want some death metal that you can listen to calmly at home to when the domestic violence breaks out again, Cryptopsy is not it. Cryptopsy is the kind of thing that you freak out with a bag of grenades and a severed head in Times Square on New Year’s to. This music is definitely not for the light of heart. If you already think that death metal in inherently evil or that death metal generally sucks, then this will not change your closed mind, but if you listen to death metal like an intelligent person who actually uses their brain rather than tries to find the next type of music to scare sheep in the next church circular with, the superb musicianship, brooding understated soloing, unique vocal style, and genre-defining songwriting technique is something to listen for.

“Close your eyes, this may hurt a lot”. “Open Face Surgery” is one of the most standout tracks of the album as Lord Worm brings in the screams of an insane torturer with his unique sounding “wah wuh wah wuh wah wuh wrrraaaaooooooo” vocals, Flo Mounier grinds double bass and snare throughout the entire song, and the guitars create an impregnable wall of riffing. The bass is even audible in this track smoothly complimenting guitars then drums then guitars again. The first really audible and clear solo at 3:08-3:31 has a bluesy feel to it, is much slower than the regular riffing of the song, and is more melancholy and brooding than it is brutal, but still does well to break up the song and show the band acknowledges their musical predecessors. The most standout part of the song though is from 3:45-4:13 when Lord Worm unleashes an unprecedented twenty-eight second screech. Even if this screech was dubbed over a couple of times, it still wouldn’t take the intensity out of it, but being one whole scream makes Lord Worm’s work much more impressive.

Flo Mounier is on my list along with Frost, George Kollias, and Derek Roddy of best extreme metal drummers ever. His percussive talent is not overstated in the least, from his intense snare grinding to his double bass blasting to the different beats in “Open Face Surgery”, “Born Headless”, and “Mutant Christ” Mounier’s prominence in the mix is the perfect creative decision for the energy behind the drums perfectly keeps each song going even when the guitars drop out, Worm’s vocals are extinguished, and the bass muddies. The snare sounds powerful at times, but at other times it’s volume is so high that it is reminiscent of poser bands like Slipknot, Bullet for My Valentine, and Avenged Sevenfold that bring in extra snare sound at a low speed to seem more intense and gritty. Other than the snare tuning (the snare drumming is perfect, just the tuning is mallcore-ish) everything about the drumming is perfectly set to create the mood of the album, bring enough intensity into the mix, and to compliment the other instruments in a brutal Frankenstein of technical ecstasy.

The guitars are very muddy throughout most of the album. Whether it is the double bass interfering with the down-tuned playing, the vocals and snare coming above it, or the seldom heard bass lines that are brought up from the dark depths that each song creates, but the guitars are only audible as a thundering mass of indistinguishable riffs until one of the guitars comes up for a solo or there is a drastic change in the structure of the song. The small amount of monotony in the guitars doesn’t hold the album back too though as they take second stage to Lord Worm’s vocals, the sporadic bass breaks, and Flo Mounier’s passionate drumming. They do sound really good in “Mutant Christ” and “Gravaged” with their growling chugs in the first and whining squeals in the second, they add a good amount to the mix of each track, but for the most part other than the soloing in songs like “Aborgir”, “Open Face Surgery”, and the riffing in “Swing of the Cross” the guitars are not very inventive.

The bass has a very audible popping sound at times when the rest of the band breaks, other than that it comes in at random times and adds well to the mix where it can be heard. Many times, though the bass is overshadowed by the drumming and guitars that blast through each song. Throughout “Defenestration”, the bass has the most audible part of any tracks in the album, but after “Defenestration” there are the few pops of each bass string here and there when the rest of the band stops or goes into a breakdown. The bass is good, but definitely could use some remastering to have a better part in the album.

This album is a must have for anyone looking to buff up their death metal collection. Cryptopsy was one of the most unique death metal bands in the scene when Lord Worm, now a god of vocal craft, was with them and “Blasphemy Made Flesh” and “None So Vile” catalogue their greatest and very short-lived musical achievements. If you want pure grit combined with brutal and technical death metal showing the pure essence of the words frantic chaos, it is in “Blasphemy Made Flesh”.