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Brutal. - 100%

The Clansman 95, September 20th, 2018

An ominous roar. Then the line "I do that rather well, don't you think?". It's the beginning of one of death metal's most brutal and legendary albums, Cryptopsy's "None So Vile". This Canadian brutal death metal quartet released, in 1996, one of the finest and most defining releases of their genre, one that would be hailed and praised for the years to come. Unfortunately, they wouldn't be able match the peaks of quality and inspiration of this masterpiece ever again. One could ask, what's so special about this album? Describing the feels it inspires in the listener by utter words is almost impossible, but I'll try to venture forth and give you a taste of what this 32 minutes of sheer chaotic brutality sound like. Only listening to it will give you a proper idea of its magnitude, although this is certainly not a task suited for the weak of heart.

Cryptopsy can be classified as belonging to the ranks of brutal/technical death metal. Each of the band's members provides a stellar performance, contributing to create a chaotic brutality which sounds at the same time really beautifully composed, as opposed to a lot of other bands trying just to sound heavy and brutal but resulting ultimately lacking in terms of songwriting and variety (90% of modern deathcore, anyone?). The first thing that will blow your mind is Flo Mounier's insane drumming. His constant use of the double bass pedals, the incredibly fast and ferocious blast beats, the lightspeed fast fills he provides for the whole duration of the CD, are more than enough to make him ascend to the Olympus of extreme metal's best drummers of all times. He manages to stay consistent and to provide a varied and entertaining performance, without sounding monotonous or declining into a sheer demonstration of technical prowess. Add the fact that he didn't use triggers during the recording of the songs, and you'll be able to understand the incredible talent of this Canadian drummer.

Let's talk about the vocals. Cryptopsy's historical vocalist, Lord Worm, was without doubt the best they could hope to get their hands on. His low gutturals are absolutely inhuman, to this day I'm still wondering how was he able to reach that lows without coughing blood. His high shrieks are piercing and demonic, and his inhaled growls are nothing short of amazing. He manages to use a wide variety of styles and features, providing a fantastic performance, not sounding annoying like a few other brutal death metal vocalists. The lyrics he wrote are definitely remarkable in terms of the subjects dealt and the studied words used. Unfortunately, there's a price to pay to sound so demonic and almost animalesque, as the lyrics are impossible to understand; but to be honest, that's not really a big deal for this kind of music.

Jon Levasseur's guitar work is nothing short of memorable and inspired: it's technical and absolutely well composed, making each of the eight tracks of "None So Vile" an absolute death metal classic. Both the rhytmic and the lead sessions are rock-hard solid, the first with its lighspeed fast tremolo picked riffs and the slower, insanely heavy "breakdowns" and bridges, and the latter with its technical, often sweep-picked solos.

One of the things extreme metal gets often criticized for is the bass guitar department, as the instrument is often almost impossible to hear and lost in the mix. Well, "None So Vile" is here once again to crush this stereotype, as bassist Eric Langlois' skills have plenty of time to shine. Although the bass follows the guitars for the most part, there are a lot of memorable licks and solos where Eric has the occasion to display his ability, adding a touch of variety to the songs. Think to the bass solo at the beginning of "Slit Your Guts", or the licks in "Phobophile" and "Orgiastic Disembowelment".

Speaking of the songwriting itself, the already above-praised abilities of the musicians are perfectly amalgamated, to craft eight beautifully chaotic and intricated tracks, each rightfully deserving to be praised. The masterful use of dissonances and chromatisms, the alternance between furious tremolo-picked sessions and slower, heavy breakdowns, the syncopated sessions, the frequent speed changes, everything contributes to create a perfect harmony while retaining the brutality and the chaotic nature of the record.

As I have already said, each song would deserve to be mentioned: if I had to choose my favourites, those would be "Crown Of Horns", thanks to its incredible speed and brutality (the songs reaches the incredible peak of 280 bpms), "Slit Your Guts" (thanks to its disturbing and haunting tremolo picked riffing and the complex breakdowns), fan favourite "Phobophile" (whose long piano intro makes the whole composition really haunting and even darker than the rest of the platter), and "Orgiastic Disembowelment" (really memorable thanks to the tasty bass work, including some catchy slaps, to the time changes, and the once again crushing guitar work).

Finally, what about the production? Well, it's really one of the finest I've ever heard in the whole genre, as it gives plenty of space to breathe to all the instruments, without sounding too polished or inanimate. Spot on the guitar tone of the B tuned guitars, which is evil, crunchy and distorted, without being muddy or annoying to the listener.

"None So Vile" is an essential and influential record, a real masterpiece to be praised by any fan of extreme music. If you haven't already listened to it, go and do it as soon as possible: it will make you run home and cry to momma, guaranteed.