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A momument to sickness - 94%

Noktorn, March 6th, 2007

For specific bands, there's a certain sickness that they possess that only occasionally lasts past the demos, and never survives beyond the debut LP. It's less to do with amateur performances (though that's sometimes a part of it) and more to do with the sickness of spirit that many artists have in their early days. Let us glance at, say, Morbid Angel's 'Altars Of Madness'. Such a composition points to a deep-seated spiritual sickness that was dispelled after exorcising it through the music on that LP. The follow-up, 'Blessed Are The Sick', while a genuine work of brilliance, lacks that same sickness of the debut. And this sickness, you see, is a rare commodity indeed.

It is in this spirit of sickness that Cryptopsy's 'Blasphemy Made Flesh' operates. You feel that atmosphere of decrepitude and perversion, the sort that you hear on albums such as 'Altars Of Madness' or 'Slowly We Rot'? That, my friends, is the essence of what it means to be sick, ill, deranged. And what could be a better example of this than a wildly careening composition such as 'Blasphemy Made Flesh', perpetually alternating between the dangerously sane and the safely mad? Lord Worm and crew inherently know what the sickness is and how to express it in musical form, and they did it no better than right here, exposing everyone who hadn't experienced such feelings to them, much to the chagrin of the normal people who gave this record a listen.

Have you, yourself, ever felt it? You surely have at one point or another, though you might not have recognized it as such. Have you ever reveled in your misery a bit too much? Ever refused to perform kindness upon yourself or others and buried your enjoyment of such a thing? Have you ever harmed another person without feeling the guilt that your sorely hoped you would? This is music for such a circumstance. Every bass thump here speaks to the side that, below and beyond merely being animal, is pure sickness in each of us. The very essence of schadenfreude and bitterness and self-loathing, and more specifically, deriving pleasure from every ounce of each of those. Scare you? It probably should.

There's a spiral downward present on 'Defenestration' within the first couple seconds: that little twisting bass line isn't just a descent into a lower octave, but a descent into the filth that such an octave represents. 'She's the kind of girl you want to/run up and tackle through a window some floors up/and spatter you both to hell' goes the internal growled rumblings of Lord Worm, and so goes the rest of the album: ten odes to suffering and the sexuality thereof, of the beauty in the obscenity that each of us notices but wants to deny. Forever the music lurches forward, driven only by its insatiable gluttony for More, and not even that of any substance, but the simple need to consume everything in its path like an invading army of parasites.

Blast beats click, bass thumps, and guitars spin wildly out of control, rapidly changing tempo, rhythm, and melody at seemingly random intervals, spinning tales of deviance that would make a number of us wretch from their intensity. The whole album feels ready to spin out of control at any moment, only tenuously held together by some relation in insanity between each member. Otherwise, the structure of the band would totally collapse into its own entropy, playing music that's too much not only for them, but for anyone to handle. What you deal with is raw, undiluted blackness in musical form that most other metal artists, or extreme music artists in general, could possibly hope to achieve in utter obsidian negativity.

The production is just as reflective of such a grimy world. Bass is the leading instrument on several occasions, with its pops and slaps emerging like some maggot Antichrist from a fetid womb, under excruciatingly thin guitars that seem more like a variably-pitched static than any tonal instrument, apart from the remarkably clear leads that burst through periodically like the last traces of morals in a world gone hopelessly mad. Drums, technically played by the master Flo Mounier, have that rickety tone of early Morbid Angel, albeit seemingly under more control on the part of the percussionist here. And the figurehead himself, Lord Worm, is perhaps the most critical instrument here: the voice of perversion, swinging incomprehensibly from sewer gurgles to girlish shrieks at a moment's noticed, just to show you how very out of control you are. Effective? Most certainly.

The filth shows up everywhere you go: The main riff to 'Serial Messiah', still one of the most sinister ever put to disc, the odd, amateurish leads on 'Abigor'; the too-fast rendition of 'Gravaged (A Cryptopsy)', which almost seems to represent the complete loss of control in a serial killer, with Flo Mounier dramatically outpacing all the other members, forcing them to speed up perpetually to catch up to his impromptu tom fills. The Worm might sum it up the best in this half stanza from 'Memories Of Blood': 'I equate its suffering with/The longevity of a ghost:/Who lasts the longest/Is who suffered the most'. This is an album that lends itself less to headbanging and more to dark introspection, or perhaps the explicit abandonment of such introspection in favor of the perversion described on charming songs such as 'Pathological Frolic'.

'Blasphemy Made Flesh' is perhaps the most complex and least quantifiable Cryptopsy album, arguably representing concepts far deeper and more disturbing than on any of their other compositions. As long as one maintains the sickness, one might be able to grasp just what is going on here. Otherwise, prepare to be overwhelmed.