without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Blasphemy Made Flesh-- the first of the two albums Cryptopsy would release that have since become absolutely essential listening in the realm of brutal death metal, and death metal in general. BMF and its direct successor, None So Vile, represent peaks that almost every other band of their genre can only stand in envy and awe before-- even Cryptopsy would never approach the force of music, harmony of instruments, memorability of riffs, and sheer sickness present on Blasphemy Made Flesh, arguably not even on the legendary follow-up None So Vile.
Quite simply, intense doesn't even begin to describe Blasphemy Made Flesh, but it's as good a starting point to describe this album as any. It's balls-out violent and unrelenting right from the get-go, with opening track 'Defenestration' providing naught but a second of calm before the metaphorical storm-- and what a storm it is. Immediately after the opening chords, the listener is barraged with a hail of riffing accompanied by blast beats like machine gun fire, flaying the skin from your bones, building up to an epic, dubbed-over banshee shriek from Lord Worm that essentially sets the tone for the rest of the album. Intense indeed-- but this album also knows when and how to introduce effective melodies into the mix without sacrificing the violence of the music. Take the recurring (and hopelessly addicting) melodic riff that emerges from the otherwise relentless demolition derby called Abigor at 1:33 and 2:48 and even evolves into an even more amazing melodic lick shortly thereafter. It is this subtle (as a schizophrenic, death metal-fueled bull in a china shop) ability to precariously balance brutality and melody that truly makes Blasphemy Made Flesh.
Or perhaps, just as much, it's the sick, off-kilter atmosphere that this album carries with it that makes it so incredible-- this is not the soundtrack of a sane, mentally intact creature. If Blasphemy Made Flesh were a person, it would set your house on fire, kidnap your family (including pets), drive you to some terrifying shack out in the middle of the woods where nobody can hear you scream, impale your dog on a pole, rape your father, murder, cook up, and force you to eat your spouse, wait for you to vomit up the chunks of your unfortunate husband or wife in disgust, and then force you to eat that as well. Not a pretty description? Not a pretty album either. Even the admittedly beautiful melodies that characterise songs like Serial Messiah and the aforementioned Abigor are subordinate to the uncompromising sickness of this album. A casual glance at the lyrics of this album will be a testament to this-- odes to sexual perversion, blasphemy, obsession, and psychosis, all penned by frontman Lord Worm.
And now we arrive, of course, at the one aspect no Cryptopsy reviewer can neglect to mention, even on the albums he doesn't appear on: Lord Worm, possibly the driving force behind that sickness, who has a more-than-well-earned reputation as one of the greatest frontmen death metal has known. What can I say? Quite frankly, the guy just gets death metal-- I can think of few growlers who can conjure up the sickness and disgusting atmosphere inherent to death metal like he can. Worm commands a vast menagerie of putrid serenades, from his infamously incomprehensible guttural grunts (just try to follow along with the lyrics-- a Sisyphean enterprise if ever there was one) to filthy retches and belches to an assortment of various screams and screeches he employs throughout the album. And if there's any doubt as to the man's sheer lung capacity, I beckon you to the notorious, twenty eight second scream he unleashes at the end of Open Face Surgery-- no overdubbing, no effects, just a career schoolteacher who occasionally doubles as a death metal frontman, venting upon the listener's unsuspecting ears one of the most impressive screams ever to grace the dark and morbid halls of death metal singing.
Whilst Lord Worm's vocals are unequivocally the primary factor that makes this album the tour de force in guttural sickness that it is, the instrumentalisation is nothing but top notch performances from all involved. Flo Mounier has a well-deserved reputation as one of death metal's premier drummers, and though it was on None So Vile that he'd truly become a league all his own, the beating he gives the skins on this album could hardly be called anything short of spectacular: he keeps things varied between rapid-fire blast beats, punishing barrages of double bass drum, effectively-employed thrash beats, and more complex beats to accompany the slower sections of the music, and his stamina is impressive, to say the least. Jon Levasseur and Steve Thibault, manning the guitars, churn out some of the greatest riffs to fall upon the death metal scene of the early 90s here, and Levasseur in particular produces some truly awe-inspiring leads. Testaments to both his skill as a guitarist and his creativity as a songwriter include the solos on Pathological Frolic and Open Face Surgery, which, whilst impressive in their technical scope, also don't forget to be pleasures to listen to. Lastly, the performance of bassist Martin Fergusson rounds out the line up on Blasphemy Made Flesh, and I consider it a boon already that I can even talk about his performance, given death metal's shameful track record with burying the bass. You won't find that here: Fergusson's bass is quite prominent in the mix, sometimes even overtaking the guitars and adopting a leading role in the music, and it maintains a strong, bouncy tone to it. It can be clearly heard complementing the guitar lines; just as often, you will hear the bass going in a direction all its own. It's always a pleasant surprise to hear a death metal band effectively employing the bass as a true instrument in its own right, and Fergusson certainly does his instrument justice.
The album is not without its flaws, alas. For example, not every riff here is a winner, though many are-- in fact, some are downright boring, such as the tremolo picking under the blasting sections on Pathological Frolic and leading up to the solo on Open Face Surgery. They're brief and almost always transition immediately to yet another kickass lick, but they're still there, and they're cause to wonder why Levasseur and Thibault couldn't come up with something a little better to occupy that brief bit of time. It doesn't wound the album as a whole, but if you focus on the guitar riffs through the muddy production at those points, you may even wince at just how unremarkable those tremolo sections can be.
Speaking of which, there's another valid complaint: the production. It really is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the sickness that this album embodies, the best of Blasphemy Made Flesh, would be entirely obliterated with a cleaner, more sterile production. On the other hand, as a result, the clarity of the riffs suffer, and one may find themselves having to deliberately extricate a riff from the mud. Furthermore, Blasphemy Made Flesh is a quiet album-- or, more accurately, it's a loud album that was made to be quieter, more subdued than it should be. You'll have to turn your speakers up to really be able to appreciate this record, and even then, you are confronted with the aforementioned issue with the muddiness of the album. Is it worth the filthy atmosphere it imbues the record with? I'd say so, but that's a purely subjective matter.
Overall, these grievances are mere pittances-- akin to hairline scratches that fail to mar what is otherwise a glorious monument to disgusting, putrid, brutal death metal. Cryptopsy's debut, as well as the follow up album None So Vile, showcase Cryptopsy at the top of their game, with some of the best musicians in death metal to its name-- Lord Worm, Flo Mounier, Jon Levasseur, all legends of death metal in their respective roles. Lord Worm's departure would herald an era of mediocrity (and immediately after Levasseur's departure from the band, we got the absolutely execrable The Unspoken King): they'd never reach this peak again, and, almost twenty years after the band unleashed this monstrosity upon the world, it's safe to say they probably never will. But, in just forty minutes captured in all their gruesome glory, Cryptopsy proved that whatever they would later become, they have earned their places as death metal legends.