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Cryptic Tales - VII dogmata of mercy - 55%

Phuling, June 30th, 2009

This album was apparently originally released in Poland by Empire Records last year, but has now been re-released for the world by Crash Music. I’ve never heard of Cryptic Tales before, despite the fact that they’ve been around for twenty years now. If I didn’t know any better I would’ve been certain this was a Cradle of Filth album, judging solely by the band photo on the back. I mean, it looks like Cradle of Filth mated with Hammerfall; like middle-aged men in a teenage rebellious stage with tons of makeup, leather, chains, studs, robes and whatnot… Let’s just say the look doesn’t work. My ‘job’ is to judge the music and not the look of the musicians, but I still can’t help but to think it looks like a group of over-aged teenage goth-wannabes.

Anyway! Music-wise this is still very similar to the previously mentioned Cradle of Filth, but with some death metal mixed into it. It’s extremely melodic with tons of keyboard action, and that’s a major downer for me. Sure, a synthesizer can certainly add atmosphere, but like in this case when it’s used all the time it becomes a nuisance instead, drowning out the metal. That’s really too bad, ‘cause they do have some interesting ideas going on with the riffing, which can be quite catchy at times. But even that falls flat since the songs are way too long; there’s only seven tracks and the album’s an hour long. It takes a lot of energy just to endure "VII dogmata of mercy" in its entirety.

"In immortality" feels like a breath of fresh air when it comes on as the intro consists of sounds of dripping water, a subtle keyboard melody and an acoustic guitar. This is very atmospheric, but gets shred to pieces after a minute when they return to their overly melodic recipe. The vocals seem misplaced in this recipe, as well. His raspy voice feels much more suited for a raw black metal band, not this symphonic kind. It’s not very charismatic and he never changes pitch, which would’ve been cool if it was raw black, but not here. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the musicianship. At times they present some really good stuff (like for instance occasionally throughout "In immortality") with wicked melodies, but since the melodies never stop I can’t enjoy it. And when it feels like the songs go on and on forever, the great bits get lost amidst redundant filler-sections.

Cryptic Tales linger somewhere in between Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child, which is really not my cup of tea. But if you like your black metal in epic lengths, symphonic-as-hell and draped in theatricality I suppose this is way up your alley. It’s just too much for me.

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