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With a demo ‘Open The Krypt’ and a self-titled EP behind them, ‘Unending Degradation’ is the first full-length album by Finnish band, Krypts.
Yet again, like many, they belong to a virtually endless crop of ‘new old school’ bands whose influences are firmly attached to underground acts of the early 1990′s. Thankfully, at a time where this trend gradually begins to wear itself thin, Krypts have a great knack for combining excellent riffs and motifs, and an atmosphere that perfectly compliments what they’re setting out to achieve.
Musical influences sit firmly within the style of Swedish and Finnish death metal, tending towards a grainy, buzzsawing, semi-cavernous sound, like a middle ground between both styles. A doom influence is hinted towards in the use of tempos, comparable somewhat to American bands such as Cianide and more recently, Disma. Songs often contain a vital hook, and as is the case with good composition and structure, give the songs a vital memetic edge that makes the listener want to dig into the rest of the record to unearth what lies beyond.
It would be easy to namedrop a plethora of bands of the early 90′s that make up the musical DNA of Krypts, but other obvious influences that spring to mind are ‘The Karelian Isthmus’ by Amorphis, ‘Shadows Of The Past’ by Sentenced and ‘The Ending Quest’ by Gorement.
‘Unending Degradation’ is an album of good quality. It is not original or groundbreaking in the way ‘Nespithe’ or ‘Obscura’ will be, but it sustains itself very well and doesn’t attempt to hide its influences. It’s a good example of orthodoxy put to the right end, and more bluntly, a case of where one puts the key in the right door.
Compared to my jovial spirits and forgiving nature on the retro Death Metal wave back when I penned WAR ON ALL FRONTS #1 it is fair to say that a lot of it is starting to get tiring, boring in its repetitive dullness, and for that reason the title of Krypts' debut album doesn't exactly fill me ith confidence. With so many unimaginative bands parading around today then what is Death Metal experiencing if not “unending degradation?” Thankfully though this is one of the better albums of the current wave of Death Metal revivalism, one of the best. In fact, I think this may be the best Finnish Death Metal album since Demigod’s Slumber Of Sullen Eyes, and I include this years’ excellent Vorum debut Poisoned Void in that consideration too.
It is hard to nail down exactly why, but even from the haunting intro track ‘Perpetual Beyond’ and looking at the conventional but not overly familiar artwork I got an immediate sense of this being something a little bit special. “Blessed Entwinement” lays out the battle-plan will follow; doomy pacing with a titanic and gargantuan feel to the riffs, a rich and enveloping wall of sound in the guitar tone and a tasteful nod the the Finnish bands of the classic Death Metal era like Convulse and Phlegethon. On paper it’s as orthodox as any of the other Death Metal albums of the year but there’s something unique about the atmosphere, the fact that its difference is something so ephemeral and hard to nail down making it all the more unnerving- uncanny in the truest sense of that word. On this track the hypnotic and hauntingly murky feel is driven not just by the swirling mass of guitar but also the drums. That alone is something few bands I have ever heard have accomplished, but it’s certainly one of the things to make Krypts stand out.
In one sense the album peaks too early with the catchy highpoint of “Into The Crypt” but an album like this shouldn’t be judged on that one criterion alone, especially when its strength lies in its insidiousness, not its directness. Take the doomiest sections of the album. On the track “Inhale...”, for example- the tempo is slowed down here to an absolute crawl, but it is anything but neanderthal and dumbed down. Even in the most monolithically slow and crushing passages the guitars breathe in waves with little soporific nuances and subtleties changing every time. Hypnoticism seems to be a very popular spell to cast in Death Metal circles these days, but unlike their countrymen Vorum who flirt with Deathspell Omega-lite atmospherics, Krypts accomplish this with the minimal of effort.
What makes Krypts such an interesting band then is not just what they’ve created here on their first outing, but what they may accomplish yet when they get even more creative. This album is by no means perfect; the songs could do with more breathing space in between so that they are more clearly delineated and the vocals at times are a little repetitive and one-track, but compared to most of the other Death Metal revival albums I've encountered in 2013, it is an album that readily invites repeat listens. This belongs up there with the recent efforts by the likes of Tribulation, Morbus Chron, Horrendous and Encoffination because I can tell that in five years time it’s an album I’ll still be periodically returning to. [8/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
I don’t know any of the Krypts’ previous releases – which were “Open the Crypt” demo form 2009 and “Krypts” EP from 2011 – but I was really looking forward to hear “Unending Degradation”, because I’ve heard a lot of positive comments on the previous recordings and everyone was saying that Krypts is definitely one of the best Finnish death metal bands around at the moment. So once “Unending Degradation” has been released on vinyl I got myself a copy of that and well - first thing, which I must say about it is that the artwork on the vinyl turned out to be way too dark. You just cannot see that many details you’d wish, almost anything at all, which is a shame of corpse, as Timo Ketola used to do some truly awesome art for metal bands and here – on this Baksiński influenced creepy defile landscape – he again did splendid job, but so what, if the dark print on the LP cover (much darker than on CD) makes it impossible to see the details and is too blurry?
OK, cover is one thing, but what about the music? Well, definitely I can see why Krypts has gained so much recognition from the maniacs, as their music is of very good quality and it fits the current “trends” perfectly, so if I say that these Finns play their death metal in old school and pretty doomy way then it should be no surprise to anyone. Yeah, that shocking value is something what I miss about some of such albums sometimes – it’s not the same great surprise anymore compared to the one, when you’ve listened to “Epitome of Darkness” or “The Horror” for the first time. From the musical point of view “Unending Degradation” has everything what every maniac should like though. Obviously this album reeks of the classic Finnish death metal scene from the early 90’s with some British, Dutch and even a bit of Swedish favour being added to this putrid effort. This album truly is damn heavy and massive sounding, with the slow playing being dominant in major part of it… but the sound is so deep and dense, so brutal that even when Krypts speeds up it still feels like you’re listening to something utterly colossal and wallcrushing, you just don’t feel this energy which would usually come together with faster death metal riffing and drumming. Here it feels like Krypts was closed in some fuckin chamber or catacomb, so the claustrophobic sense is close and there’s almost no life and energy within this music, so obscure and lifeless it seems. And that for some will be a great advantage of “Unending Degradation”, while some others will see it in different way… Well, personally I am somewhere in between.
I can admit that Krypts has some good moments on “Unending Degradation” and in general this album is really well composed and performed, but somehow it lacks something. I don’t know whether I have been spoiled too much by some other similar bands, but there are some around, which are just better than Krypts and this means that “Unending Degradation” is more of a mediocre effort and definitely it’s not as brilliant as some other albums, which I have had a chance to hear this or last year. Sometimes it tends be too slightly too monotonous for me and when it gets too repetitive and tiresome then it also feels to drag on too much and therefore it just isn’t 100% convincing and absorbing. I must give Krypts the justice though – there are several awesome riffs, like for instance I really like the instrumental opening track “Introeon: Perpetual Beyond”, with its nice Swedish feel to it, because of more melodic riffs… or “Open the Crypt”, “Blessed Entwinement”, so generally the album is solid and OK, but just maybe too monotonous. I think that each of these songs, which are on “Unending Degradation”, if released on two song singles, would sound really well and I would probably have not many things to complain about. But if you listen to for instance side A, you feel like first couple of songs are OK, but at the end of “Dormancy of the Ancients” I start to yawn. This song just feels too long… and the same happens on side B, really. I usually start listening to it with some interest, but it fades away after a while. So yeah, I have mixed feelings towards “Unending Degradation”… find yourself what this album is like, some of you will love it, while some others may have similar impression to mine.
Standout tracks: “Open the Crypt”, “Blessed Entwinement”
Final rate: 69/100
Continuing their old school Finnish death metal onslaught with releases from bands such as Vorum and Desolate Shrine, Dark Descent Records continues the Finnish inquisition with Krypts‘ debut full length release, Unending Degradation after a critically acclaimed demo and EP release.
Introductory track Perpetual Beyond almost misleads one into thinking of Krypts as a band of Swedish origins, not only with that abrasive guitar tone that is characteristic of old school Swedish death metal, but also in the structure of the track, the crushing riffs and that haunting lead guitar that is layered above. While it is not entirely wrong to think of Unending Degradation to be a release in Swedish death metal veins (these elements can be found littered throughout the album), the band’s Finnish influences become instantly clear with Blessed Entwinement immediately remind one of Finnish death metal bands as Convulse and Depravity, at times even reminding one of their label-mates Vorum, with that characteristic Incantation-styled riffing patterns, alternating between trem-picking and crushing, palm-muted sections. Slower and heavier segments on songs like Beneath the Archaic even brings in some sounds from Slugathor and the more recent Desecresy.
The production quality on Unending Degradation also ensures that the entire experience of the album is as brutal and ugly as possible, and despite the evident rawness, the instruments are mixed nicely, allowing for the guitars and drums to be relentless driving forces for the album. The loud, audible rumbling bass at the background also ensures that the music remains as heavy as possible at all times for the entirety of the album.
Furthermore, that spacey atmosphere, combined with the crushing impact of the music brings to mind bands like Grave Miasma. The atmospheric aspects of the music are also one of the key features of Unending Degradation. For instance, the lead guitars are often used to create a haunting atmosphere, and the usage of slower sections such as on Inhale…, the band ensures that there is constant tension in the air, allowing for the next round of onslaught to leave a deeper impact.
Unending Degradation, as one would soon come to realise, isn’t exactly an album that is meant to boast the members’ technical capabilities. Sure, the music can be fast and aggressive at times, but the main focus of Krypts, it seems, is on creating some of the rawest and ugliest death metal that they can.
Back when death metal began its transformation into a proper genre bands really needed to come up with innovative ideas to make a stand. But if you fast-forward twenty years into the middle of the current retro scene you’ll notice just how different things are now. The Internet has allowed everything in the metal world to reach just about anyone, giving any new musician a lot to digest and influences abound to build upon. Because of that we’ve been witnessing a tendency of newer bands appearing with a multifaceted sound, a jigsaw puzzle of different styles concatenated into one dark brew that tries to sound different than the rest with its specific amalgamation. Krypts are a good example of this, a band that not only makes good use of its birthing country’s doom-laden and atmospheric brand of death metal, but also of other influences coming from across the Atlantic. The main parallelism that can be made is with Funebrarum, mainly due to how the different elements are mixed but also in the vocals which are pretty similar. Krypts’ approach however is more intent on constantly upholding a gloomy atmosphere rather than crushing the listener senselessly, as to weave a dark cavernous feeling of hopelessness around the listener.
A two minute intro sets the tone in a well known Finnish style, repeating a morbidly delicious riff with that typical distortion that Abhorrence introduced so many years ago. Suddenly “Blessed Entwinement” jumps right in your face with crushing weight and a well defined bass sound, building up for a rampant explosion that takes little under a minute to occur. Brutish vocals and blasting drums ferociously attack you before the song falls again into a slower pace, keeping the foul stench going on with mid-paced repetition. This is just the first song but already similarities with Funebrarum can be witnessed throughout its execution, and the following, “Open The Crypt”, continues to vary between the more muscled attack and the doomier approach of Finndeath. The main riff after the intro is pretty cool and requests some movement in your neck area, as does the one by the third minute that introduces a faster section. However the song seems to repeat itself for way too long without ever being very dynamic, an idea that is also apparent on the other longer tracks, “Dormancy Of The Ancients” and “Beneath The Archaic”. The first for instance spends almost eight minutes doing exactly the same thing as before, having mid-paced atmospheric sections interweaved with more upbeat segments that apex in intense blasting. And while the leads employ that spacey melodious tone I enjoy so much it’s hard not to feel like there’s too little ideas spawned over too much time.
As I said above, the emphasis of this album is on its atmosphere and the employment of different moods throughout its execution. While the harmonious leads tend to give some sense of respite, the remaining bulk is more interested in provoking dread and fear of the unknown, painting a darkened veil that seems to suck you in. I’ll give the band some credit for being able to conjure such an unearthly miasma to cloak the entire album, but the fastidious lack of different dynamics ends up ruining what could be a much better album. I mean, why place a four minute song that only adds up to the doom factor after two songs that already amount to fifteen crawling and exceedingly long minutes? Why not make “Inhale…” a faster one to better balance the album instead of just repeating one riff for four minutes? Thankfully “The Black Smoke” emerges to correct this wrongdoing, putting out a main riff that is a total delight in its reminiscence to the days of yore. There aren’t really any new elements coming into play in this song, but the way in which the same elements are more dynamically arranged makes it stand out. And it’s this lack of rhythmic and riffing variation that ends up being the album’s major flaw, as Unending Degradation constantly reuses the same tricks in the exact same ways, rapidly turning into a recurring experience.
I have a big love for the Finnish death metal school, and I really don’t see any problem in its backbone being rearranged with disparate elements as long as they complement it. But when a band spends nearly forty minutes repeating the exact same ideas it’s hard to enjoy repeated listens of such an album, however good those ideas might be in the first place. There are currently new bands doing much better than this; with Undergang, Desecresy or Ataraxy being finer examples of this new generation. The guys in Krypts seem to be talented enough to thrive, but that extra flair that’s needed to make an album shine is sadly absent here. It seems to me that the retro scene is showing signs of an apparent saturation already, and albums like this one only reinforce that idea of mine. Unending Degradation is a decent album, but that’s pretty much it. It entertains for a while but ends up bringing nothing new to a scene that is becoming abused to the point of repetition.
Originally written for and posted at The Metal Observer
This is the definition of Death Metal as on RateYourMusic - Death Metal is a Metal sub-genre that began in the United States in the mid 1980s and was heavily influenced by Thrash Metal(particularly bands like Slayer and Kreator). Pioneers of the genre include bands such as Possessed, Death, and Morbid Angel. This genre often utilizes abrupt changes in tempo, key, and time signature, although this is not present in all forms of this music. Guitars are heavily distorted and down-tuned, and are often played using techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking. Chromatic chord progressions are often featured in Death Metal songs. Death Metal drummers typically play in very fast patterns and often employ double bass drum techniques and the use of blast beats to create a highly aggressive sound. Vocally, Death Metal uses a style consisting largely of guttural growls, grunts, and gurgles. Lyrics are bleak and often violent or anti-religious. Even today, this style is considered a largely underground form of music.
A pretty good definition covering almost all characteristics of death metal. Almost. This definition, and the definition of death metal as on Wikipedia are quite similar but both do not mention one very important characteristic of death metal. The atmosphere. Remember the golden era of death metal when the only aim of playing death metal wasn’t just playing blast beats and aggression but an inherent evil foul and wicked almost suffocating atmosphere? Not many in this ongoing new school of old school death metal have been able to grasp and master this concept, hell, not many of the old school bands were able to do it unless you’re a band member of Incantation or Autopsy but Krypts seem to have grabbed that elusive devil by the collar and make it its own and in the process have written a chapter on death metal atmosphere that would have made the masters proud.
Krypts, a Finnish band have been around for a while. Even if you’re a new band when you come from a country that has birthed the bastardly putrid sons of bands like Demilich, Demigod, Convulse (who, for those living under a rock have come up with a pretty nifty little EP earlier this year) , Adramelech, Xysma, Cartilage (to name a very very few) you carry of extremely legendary tag of Finnish death metal which can be a huge burden to carry. They formed in 2008 and have released a self titled EP in 2001 and a demo called ‘Open The Crypts in 2009 and since then have lived up to their expectations and released stuff which created ripples of excitement in the death metal community. A glance of at the album art which has been inked by THE Timo Kotela who has made the famous Deathspell Omega and Watain covers has also done artwork for bands like Kaamos, Teitanblood, Katharsis and Dead Congregation is a visual showcase of the music contained within the debut album labelled ‘Unending Degradation’ . It’s bleak, dark, and oppressive yet possessing a sense of all that is unholy.
If ‘Open The Crypts’ and ‘Krypts’ were teasers into the putrid make of death metal this band was about to churn out then ‘Unending Degradation’ is the full monty of unabashed, rancid death metal that if I may be completely honest may have surprised many of fan of this band including me as something this heavy and lumbering was not expected. But then again it may not be as surprising considering Dark Descent records have signed ‘em up, a label that over the years has signed only the best of the best to their catalogue of death metal, some bands being Adversarial, Goreaphobia, Lvcifyre and Anhedonist. The album consists of 8 tracks and lasting nearly 40 minutes has 3 tracks from their 2009 demo. These tracks are ‘Open The Crypt’, ‘Dormancy Of Ancients’ and ‘Day Of Reckoning’. These tracks have been re-recorded and given an atmosphere and feel that make it go consistently with the other tracks of the album instead of just being copy pasted and makng them seem out of place, which once again is not every surprising since Dark Descent is anything but an amateur. The music can be described as a mixture of Death and DeathDoom with its traditional Finnish styled downtuned heavy goodness, sepulchral bass lines, visceral bellows and sunken drums that mesh together to create an unforgivingly dark, deep and debauched atmosphere. Throughout the album there are various tempo changes which change between mid paced and slow lumbering with well thought of precision. After all its the heavy and slow riffs that make for a more morbid atmosphere than the hyperspeed technical ones. Each time the gear is changed it brings about the unmitigated change in the cavernous atmosphere which the band intended to do so in the first place. Whether the riffs crawl along at a maggot like pace or a faster more paced approach the band never meanders from its pivotal aim which is of creating a monstrously perverted atmosphere.
Throughout the album the band permeates an esoteric intelligence by showing it knows what it wants backed by an unbridled creativity of the instruments through which the bands can bring forth unto the listener what the band needs. The song writing and song placing on the album is another brilliant feature innate here. The way the band uses extended outros as intros to the upcoming tracks as well as further piling to the suffocating atmosphere and how the band meshes the slow placed lumbering riffs of the track ‘Inhale...’ as a precursor to the unhinged crushing brutality of the following track ‘The Black Smoke’ shows the vision of the band which is further cemented in this all killer, no filler consistent release when the band finishes of with a bang with their final track ‘Beneath The Archaic’ which is masterpiece of modern death/doom and everything the band stands for.
Devastating stuff. Unending Degradation has cemented Krypts place in the modern death metal scene by creating an album that is so full of emotion and by merging its old and new stuff with amazingly perfect liquidity. This is an incarnation of old school death metal.. the Finnish way. In a year that boasts of releases by Zealotry, Convulse, Mitochondrion, Lantern, T.O.O.H, Mithras, Vorum, Portal and Suffocation amongst others and with 10 of the 12 months of this year still left toppling this beat beast of an album will not be an easy task, and if some band old or new does manage to best this.. well then this year will bring back a smile on the face of an old school death metal fan.
Krypts is one of a wave of younger Finnish death metal acts that, unlike many of their Swedish peers formed over the past 5-10 years, do not seek to merely copy their influences, but return to a primitive early 90s motif through sheer riffing power and atmosphere, two facets of their full-length debut Unending Degradation which are not in contention. That's not to say that the band does not evoke nostalgia for countrymen of decades past, like Convulse and Demigod, but there is no sense in listening through the album that they're above establishing their own crude and concussive identity, while fitting in snugly with the 'cavernous' death metal aesthetic made so popular in Europe and the US these past few years. It's neither genius in its construction, or rocket science in its implementation, but if you're a backer of grim acts like Father Befouled, Funebrarum, Anhedonist, or fellow Finns like Swallowed or Lie in Ruins, I have confidence that Krypts should prove right up... err...down your alley.
They're able to accomplish a lot of density here with fairly simplistic chord progressions, which do not always manifest into the most impressive or memorable of riffs, but maintain the group's crushing quote of rank and foul atmosphere. Songs tend to favor a slow, sluggish pace over which the guttural vocals can stretch out and resonate, but there are occasional bursts to a more festive d-beat tempo. The use of chords here is far more legion than tremolo picked patterns; and they'll often adjoin the churning, chasm-spanning rhythm guitars with dour, mournful melodies that shift the material into a death/doom territory. What separates this from a lot of similar recordings in that whole post-Incantation/Autopsy scene is the loud use of the bass guitar: this thing is murky as hell, cranked to provide a tar-like substrate to the riffing, even if the actual composure of the lines isn't exactly unique or compelling. Coupled with the bludgeoning growl of Antti Kotiranta, as lifeless and bleak as a mortuary wall, Unending Degradation really captures this unflinching sense of morbidity and pathos that never really cedes through the 40 minute play time. They'll break up the weight of the chords with some spikes of a more dissonant melody in the strings, or unleash a brutal undercurrent of rolling double bass drum (as in "Dormancy of the Ancients") to enhance the brutality to beyond mere drudgery, but ultimately this is a consistent, oppressive piece of work that seeks no subtlety in how it casts you into its shadows.
The flourishes of reverb and atmosphere are well done here, but I will admit that it takes a particular mood to really appreciate such a thickly negative slab of suffering. This is hardly monotonous writing, and the band are not merely recycling the same riff endlessly unto boredom, but Unending Degradation does sacrifice a certain level of dynamic range as it spades the listener into a ditch; and I, for one, would not have minded a bit more contrast to really let those heavier moments hit me in the gut. There's also the fact that many of the individual riffs are far from mesmerizing or unique. Functional, and fitting to the mood here, but it wouldn't hurt to add just a fraction of complexity, or perhaps render some of those cryptic melodies into something more evil and hypnotic. Despite this, though, I really feel as if Krypts knows its audience pretty well, and there's definitely a swath of the 'new old school' fandom that will spin the shit out of this record. It's brooding, and sorrowful to the point of sinister somnolence, and thus easy enough to recommend to fans of no-bullshit, no-gimmicks, effective (if not amazing) death metal which serves the purpose of drowning out all sun and cheerfulness from a room. I wouldn't listen to this while heavily medicated, though!