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I bought this back in '96, just based on that weird ice castle artwork, feeling that it brought to mind something obscure, cold, and atmospheric. And this album fully delivered that, and much, much more.
Take a base of Suffocation style riffing, and throw in some killer fucking drummer. By killer, I mean fast and accurate as all hell. Add Lord Worm with his trademark incomprehensible growls, gurgles and snarls, and a masterpiece is born! Also, the lyrics on here are probably the most disturbing I have ever read.
Things start out pretty basically with "Defrenestration," but with "Abigor" Cryptopsy shines. There is a small harmony break after the first chorus, but after the second, it develops into a full blown solo. This is not Arch Enemy, this is something sick and twisted, yet beautiful. "Open Face Surgery" follows it up with really, really sick vocals, including a nearly inhuman scream near the end that lasts over 30 seconds, bludgeoning riffs, and the best solo on here.
"Serial Messiah" pounds away before morphing into some neo-classical style melody, then back into grinding. "Born Headless" has some really heavy, chunky riffs, as does the album closer "Pathological Frolic" and "Memories of Blood." The most straight forward song, "Gravaged" is my least favourite, probably because it's simply too simple when compared to the other tracks on here. "Mutant Christ" is simply amazing, morphing from one nasty, churning riff to something fast, to something beautfiul (fucking great solo, Jon!), then back to the churning stuff.
What can I say I love most about this? Nearly all of it! The fantastic mix of ugly, ugly death metal and well crafted melodies is simply amazing. The speed is revolutionary without being click-click-click-Marduk. The vocals are disgusting and beyond belief. The guitars riffs are innovative, and span the full spectrum of metallic glory.
Probably if I were to give Cryptopsy a prize, it would be for creating the most innovative song structures. Each song goes through a variety of riffs, tempos and even moods, but very effortlessly. Many grindcore/death metal bands have since tried to copy Cryptopsy, but the seemless melding of so many different textures has never been duplicated. And actually, I really gave up on brutal death metal after None So Vile came out, because these two album are the apex of what I enjoy in that realm.
My favourite element on here has to be the solos and melodies, which rarely showed up in such music way back when this was made, and have hitherto never been faithfully duplicated. They're classy, but very atmospheric and beautiful at the same time. I'd reccomend picking this up just for the solos, but
The production gets a bit irritating. There is somewhat of a distant, cold, almost black metal-esque quality to the production, but still a fair amount of compression on the guitars. Also, the drums (especially the cymbals) seem to be a bit over produced. I prefer the more ugly sounding guitars and wild drums. On here, however, when coupled with the nearly incomprehesible vocals, it feels like something obscure, unnamable, and utterly beyond all reasoning. This evokes a bit of the old fear of the unknown, like being kidnapped in a foreign country where you don't speak a word of the language, but the motions and intentions of your captors are still human.