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Death Metal Brilliance At the Highest Level - 100%

ChrisDawg88, June 23rd, 2006

The name Cryptopsy has practically become synonymous with technical death metal over the years. The band gained instant recognition in its early stages largely due to the unique talents of its two founding members, vocalist Lord Worm and drummer Flo Mounier. Since its inception over a decade ago, Cryptopsy has enjoyed a successfull if fragmented career, making a large impact in the scene but also going through numerous line-up changes, most notably the departure of Lord Worm in 1996. Despite having perhaps one of the most confusing band histories in its genre, many can sum up the entire existence of Cryptopsy in three simple words:

None So Vile.

In 1996, Cryptopsy entered the studio with a veritable dream team of musicians and recorded an album that more than measures up to the sum of the parts that created it. Along with albums like Suffocation's Pierced From Within and Nile's Amongst The Catabombs of Nephren-Ka, None So Vile helped to revitalize a slumping mid-90's death metal scene and set new standards for musicianship, brutality, and songwriting that few today can match. In many ways, Cryptopsy's second album is the epitome of everything that extreme metal stands for.

The amazing talent that Cryptopsy had managed to accumulate under its moniker pretty much speaks for itself; depending on who you ask, the band was made up of death metal's greatest drummer, guitarist, bassist, and vocalist. The individual performances on None So Vile are exceptional, but together, the band displays a tangible chemistry and shared mindset that Cryptopsy would never again be fortunate enough to possess. Flo's drumming, while not yet on the level technically that he would reach in the future, is nevertheless sublime, always choosing the right fill, the right time to blast, the right time to pummel with a grooving double-kick segment. Eric Langlois's bass playing is not only audible (a statement in itself) but a huge part of the unique sound on this disc; his funky playing was way ahead of its time, and some of the noises this man manages to get from his instrument are as bizarre as they are ingenious.

The other two stars of the show are the fantastic creative force of guitarist Jon Levasseur and vocalist Lord Worm. Levasseur proves himself not only as an amazing guitarist but an even more amazing songwriter. The riffing on this album is simply the best in death metal; dark and technical yet fluid and catchy, Levasseur takes the Baroque-style melody base from the band's debut and expands upon it by fusing the evil harmonies of Morbid Angel with the brutality of Suffocation and the oft-kilter fluidity of Demilich to create songs that crush and confuse on the first listen but continue to amaze years later. Vocally, Lord Worm is a usually a love-hate matter, but his unique style is a huge part of this album's impact and appeal. From piercing, hair-raising shrieks to lowest of the low growls and every sort of noise in between, Lord Worm captivates throughout the album, proving once and for all that vocals can be a vital instrument in metal when done in the right way. Lyrically, Worm is a genius. To this day death metal has never scene lyrics so poetic and memorable, even when discussing topics so ghastly. The fact that they are unintelligible (Hell, barely pronounced) through most of the album doesn't matter; the lyrics are simple outstanding, and reading them is essential to truly appreciate how important Lord Worm was to this band (read any of DiSalvo's lyrics and you will see what I mean).

I'm guessing that you would like to hear about the actual songs now, right? Put simply, all eight are classics. "Crown Of Horns" opens the album on a blistering note, with Lord Worm kicking things off with a shriek and a string of growls that never fails to make me shudder and smile. "Slit Your Guts" contains some of Worm's most delightfully depraved lyrics and the band's trademark flow of riffing, while "Graves Of The Fathers", "Dead and Dripping", and "Benedictine Convulsions" showing the band truly going all out on their respective instruments, the latter containing a groove segment in the beginning that I never tire of. "Lichmistress" is the shortest and most intense of the songs, and "Orgiastic Disembowelment" serves wonderfully as an "epic" closer. If I had to pick one song to really represent the brilliance of this album, however, it would definitely be the wonderfully titled "Phobophile". If you only listen to one Cryptopsy song in your entire life, make it this one. That's all I'll say on that.

All in all, None So Vile is about as close to perfect as any death metal album can be. Even the work's short running time is perfect for the nature of the music and helps to give each song its own feel and identity. Basically, this album has everything anybody could ask for in extreme metal: amazing, creative songwriting, brilliant musicianship, and a vocalist who sounds like the personification of all things dark and evil. Simply put, None So Vile stands tall as the best death metal album of all time, and a classic in every sense. With that, I think I'll let Lord Worm have the last word, as I think it sums up this album pretty damn well:

"I am Messiah
The grand delusion;
To hell-wracked things