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Anathema - 75%

dismember_marcin, April 12th, 2019

My exhumations continue, so let's dig out now a 1992 demo from Polish band Cryptic Tales. "Anathema" had originally been released by Carnage Records on tape, but in 2009 another Polish label Redrum 666 released it on CD, which is very cool. Although they've changed the artwork, it all looks very well, especially the big band photo in the fold out booklet. And if it wasn't enough, there's a media file for your computer, which contains more old photos, gig posters, old interview from Thrash'em All... Good!

And what can I write about "Anathema"... Well, this is pretty solid demo, I have to say. Although I don't think it belongs "to the most interesting death metal demos in the early 90's Europe", as the CD booklet claims it to be, it definitely is a worthy and good recording, for sure a classic from Polish death metal scene. Cryptic Tales started as a standard death metal band, with a strong Scandinavian influence (alike to Tiamat for instance), which is characterised by a strong melodic base of some riffs and the dark atmosphere of the music. But there's also quite a lot of doom / death metal influence from acts like Paradise Lost and Anathema. Or some Dutch bands as well! So if you take all these things together, the result is pretty fuckin awesome music. Riffs are heavy and gloomy, but they're very well corresponding with melodic parts, so the result is very good. They never really sound very brutal or fast, music is mostly mid or slow paced, but I like that it sounds atmospheric, yet vicious. There're some additional instruments, like acoustic guitar, keyboards and even fuckin contrabass in "Voices Inside the Beast", so Cryptic Tales definitely had a lot of good ideas for their music. Which is also important as they composed some very long songs, such "Putrid Mutants" is near ten minutes long, so they had to diverse them as much as they could. To be fair, Cryptic Tales sounds sometimes a bit sloppy, the performance isn't perfect and it all is quite rough and very archaic nowadays, but that is something what I actually like, it has its charm. It is more obscure this way. Two songs originate even from the earlier demo „Sign of the Southern Cross”, but these new versions are surely better.

And the production is also good, I think it's better than on most Polish death metal demo recordings from that era, which is definitely something noteworthy. All in all, there's 40 minutes of old school doom / death metal and I can assure you "Anathema" is worth to have. Very good demo.

Standout track: "Voices Inside the Beast"
Verdict: 75/100

Cryptic Tales - Anathema (re-release) - 90%

Phuling, January 25th, 2010

My first encounter with Cryptic Tales was their comeback album "VII dogmata of mercy" from 2008, and it certainly didn’t thrill me. Ultra-melodic, extremely symphonic black metal just isn’t my cup of tea. "Anathema" is their debut album recorded back in 1992, and was originally released on tape, but has now been remastered and reissued on CD. I wasn’t exactly eager to hear it, considering how awful I thought their new material was, so it was with a big dose of skepticism I pressed play. Well slap my ass and call me Judy, this is so far from what I excepted (and dreaded) this to sound like. This is a dose of genuine death/doom, and a seriously arse-shredding one, I might add.

The fact that it’s old school shouldn’t come as a surprise, I mean it was written and recorded back in the days when old school by today’s standard was the new hot and brutal thing. The murky sound is excellent. It’s not the heaviest and most well-produced recording ever heard, but it has that particular obscure flair that turns it into a real killer recording. The bass is quite audible, which adds a pummeling and rumbling effect to accompany the slicing guitar riffage. It’s not pure doom, but more like they’ve just taken the Swedish/Finnish death metal recipe and slowed it way down to create a seriously heavy and brutal album. The wicked riffing along with the superb drumming is cause for a terrific death/doom experience, and as the deep growls set in it sounds so freaking brutal. But it’s also very atmospheric, and that comes much thanks to the addition of acoustic guitars and a contrabass, adding a very haunting aura. They’ve also sparsely thrown in keys for effect, and this sparsely used it definitely delivers. The outcome sounds as though recorded in an old Transylvanian castle; it’s extremely haunting.

Imagine mixing the melody of early Unanimated, taking the heaviness of Bolt Thrower and the obscure doom elements of Winter, now imagine Vlad Tepes impaling his victims and Elizabeth Bathory bloodletting a dozen virgins and you have the full recipe of "Anathema". It is absolutely fantastic, and I can’t grasp the reality that Cryptic Tales started out so incredible and made their comeback so cheesy. The versatility of the music is wicked and the atmosphere of the recording is just mesmerizing. Highly recommended.

Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net