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Crypt Monarch > The Necronaut > Reviews
Crypt Monarch - The Necronaut

Molten and morphous - 80%

gasmask_colostomy, July 25th, 2021

Is there any need to preface an album like this with a long, slow introduction about why lo-fi post-Master of Reality stoner doom deserves a constant place in the vast landscape of rock and metal music? Perhaps not, but something long and slow may be necessary to get in the mood for Crypt Monarch and their wandering spacey fuzzscapes. The 3 members that perform on The Necronaut have been around the Costa Rican scene for a while, here uniting for the first time to worship the riff, the lumbering groove, and – presumably – the necrotic monarch. The reason why we allow them to exist, and indeed the reason why this review exists at all, relates to the way in which the sounds of such a hazy power trio can conjure both the past and the future while enveloping the listener in a timeless present moment that stretches out as the hypnotic songs pulse gradually onwards. Musically, nothing new is happening here, yet the primal impulses of Crypt Monarch’s creation seem molten and morphous, as if being sculpted at the moment of recording. Whether or not truly the case, this debut album feels like a monumental jam captured live on tape.

In one of those paradoxical twists, each of the album’s 3 songs runs extremely long and yet the album itself remains actually quite short, only just hitting 36 minutes. Anyone familiar with Belzebong, Conan, or the perennial Sleep will know the runtime really doesn’t matter though, since slow tempos and fuzzy repetition can elongate a brief release until it takes all the time in the day, all the air from the room, and all the attention of the listener. Crypt Monarch achieve this effect within a few minutes of commencing 'Morning Star Through Skull', so – regardless of the quarter hour the opener lasts – it already covers a massive area before the first guitar lead enters the picture. As a single guitar outfit, the trio’s sound is altered significantly by the presence of guitar breaks, Christopher de Haan’s grinding bass just about keeping up the suffocating backing while Jose Pablo Rodríguez wheels out on the arms of the Milky Way to metaphorically stare at the stars with reluctant fingers. A few solo bass passages crop up too; other than those moments, the sonic tar remains uniformly thick and bubbling.

The distinctive feature in this style sounds just as contradictory as the issue pertaining to time and size. Due to fairly steady pacing and only the 4 traditional rock instruments in the mix, much of The Necronaut feels relaxed and easy; however, the speaker-wobbling levels of distortion and volume coming from the strings saturate the album along with slightly distant shouted vocals (both de Haan and drummer JC Zuniga contribute, sometimes with cleaner tones and scratchy whispers), so that a rising intensity of noise and focus sometimes escalates uncontrollably, similar to the manner in which a certain green substance might steadily pin one to the floor as its effect grows. No album absolutely necessitates drug use, though The Necronaut definitely seems to recommend it. Whether accompanied by the haze of smoke or not, Crypt Monarch elicit a sort of throbbing, pulsing feel as their long tracks forge onwards, meaning that the listener will believe they are on a journey even while in their armchair. Largely evolving movements throughout each of the cuts adds to this sensation.

Actually, the effect of the listen can also be gathered from the band’s intentions behind the release. Supposedly recorded and produced by Crypt Monarch themselves during a session in a cabin in the woods, the concept behind The Necronaut involves a dishonoured king resurrected from the dead in order to seek retribution on past enemies. As such, the release’s title becomes clear, as the titular character voyages from another realm in a supernatural quest: sonically, the trio appear to be doing something similar, remaining in the alternate headspace of heavy fuzz while they propel themselves through consciousness in search of the ideal riff. The mood doesn’t change an awful lot across the record, mainly contrasting those contradictory intensities to a wandering gait, and only briefly sounding lonely and dispirited – as opposed to striding along peacefully – as 'Aglaophotis' comes near its end and the album concludes. As a result, The Necronaut shows some character at times, but the storyline can be understood as having a very loose hold on reality.

And so, back to the question of why Crypt Monarch deserve a place in musical society and whether The Necronaut really begs for your attention as a listener. Though bringing nothing to the table in terms of innovation, neither on their respective instruments nor for the stoner and doom styles generally, the trio do manage to create an entire experience that devotees of Acid King, Sleep, and early Elder will find very much to their taste, as well as those keen on the cosmic sludge side of things. The compositions don’t require too much finesse to keep moving forwards and suspend listeners for the entire duration, while the arrangements themselves tend to be very satisfying, grooves, riffs, and vocal passages standing out on every song. Let’s be honest though, your mind was probably made up when you read the question in the first paragraph, and Crypt Monarch’s dependable quality isn’t likely to change your answer now.

Originally written for The Metal Observer -