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What the Heck is a "Crypt of Blasphemy" Anyway? - 99%

Mercyful Trouble, February 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Pulverised Records

Who cares, is the only correct answer to that question. That's precisely the attitude that long-forgotten Swedish death metal savages Interment had when they sprang back to life 13 years after their final 90's demo on a split with New Jersey freaks Funebrarum in 2007, and again three years later on this 2010 debut from Pulverised Records. This band has no regard for the fact that chainsaw guitar tones and lyrics revolving entirely around the macabre and sinister are no longer hip, and why should they? They originated from a time and place of creative genius that never needed to sacrifice its unrelentingly heavy and bone-crushing edge in order to craft atmosphere and style still unmatched in its repulsive charm. Interment having stuck to their awe-inspiring roots fills an important niche that hipsters refuse to acknowledge, and that's ultimately that the original pioneers of buzzsaw-laden Swedish debauchery such as Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, Carnage, and Grave actually released precious few releases in the no-frills Swedish style. Entombed has spent most of their career as a death 'n' roll band, Unleashed and Grave both had a long streak of albums in a more marketable groove-death style, Carnage became Dismember, and Dismember became too heavily melodic and tough-guy-metal-fan-pandering in their later years to honestly represent the style they had once pioneered. Meanwhile, lesser known old-school acts like Wombbath, Gorement, Excruciate, Cemetary, Tiamat, and others released only about one full-length in the style before falling into a long period of silence, disbanding, or changing their style. This means that the Swedish sound, for all its brilliance, suffered from a distinctly limited amount of material - most metalheads who are aware of the style can only name a handful of staple releases, like the debuts of the pioneers mentioned above. Compare that with how many Bay Area thrash metal or new wave of British heavy metal classics the average metalhead could name, I'd wager they could name at least 10 of each. I seriously wonder if the contrarians detracting from this inevitable and logical old-school revival are aware that Left Hand Path is Entombed's only album representative of the pure Swedish style (Clandestine comes close but is too yelly instead of growly in the vocal department to deliver the most authentic experience). By the logic of such detractors, Kill 'Em All should have been the only Bay Area thrash metal album ever released, because after all, the style you play in means everything, and actual musical compositions mean nothing, right? Or, what about, perhaps, I don't know, a scene should be represented by more than one, or five, or even ten staple releases? Just a thought. That thought is especially valid when you consider the genuinely superb quality of a so-called "knock off" album like Into the Crypts of Blasphemy. Yes, finally now that my lead-in hipster killing rant is over, I can cool off and go into the gory details about what makes this 36 minute recording of sonic Carnage (hehe) so despicably enjoyable.

As I've said, this album is a helping of the no-frills Swedish death metal sound that pre-dated the mid 90's groove-train, so it hardly comes as a surprise that opener "Eternal Darkness" wastes no time making its vicious intentions known, like a pack of ravenous undead simultaneously slamming their bodies into the cemetery gates until they swing open, and much the same can be said for the three subsequent cuts. Meaty riffs which, by themselves, offer neither much melody nor variation, provide the absolute perfect template for the maniacal growling. Since the verses in these songs are made up of rather short phrases strung together atop the cacophony of endless buzzsaw guitars, the songs have a great deal of momentum that allows for the simplistic punchlines to be direct hits at full velocity ("...torn from the grave!"). Of course, if we must examine the musical chemistry here, these impacts are further enhanced by a last-minute switch to more major-scale riffing before the chorus (which is pretty much just the title of the song being repeated as forcefully as possible), which creates a sort of a "time to headbang again!" dynamic. In addition, because the production job isn't doctored up so as to create a neater sounding album, it lets every instrument add its destructive power into the fray. When you combine this natural sounding mix with the undeniable musical momentum, it makes the desire to headbang both genuine and irresistible. Other delicacies are to be found in conjunction with Interment's formula, as well. "Stench of Flesh" is one such example, which deviates from the beaten path with an incredibly catchy and fun guitar-less break, where the vocalist lets loose all of his growling grooves. It really highlights the unpretentious nature of this music, that it's focused on being enjoyable for the listener, not self-indulgent for the musicians.

Along those same lines, there is ample consideration of how the tracks need be paced as the album wears on. "Where Death Will Increase", one of the band's oldest songs, kicks off with a brief and suitably acrimonious sample before transitioning into a jumpier riff not yet heard on the album, reminiscent of those bouncy riffs you'd hear in some of Unleashed's old songs, like "For They Shall Be Slain" or "The Immortals". In this song and in the tracks following it, there is a more notable emphasis on slow build-up, melody, and more involved refrains. Whereas the opening suite of tracks was more focused on straightforward fury, songs like "Sacrificial Torment" and "Night of the Undead" are laced with corrosive guitar melodies that leave a trail of oozing pus behind the (slightly) more intricately crafted and slower choruses. The latter song even works the nonsensical (but damn cool!) album title into the lyrics, using it as part of the main refrain... "In the night of horror, into the crypts of blasphemy! In the south of heaven you will ever see!" As you can tell, such phrases are, by Interment standards, much more meticulously crafted than those of the title-repeating opening tracks. "Morbid Death" is the most obviously late-album track of the whole lot, bringing things to a tense climax with the most ominous melodies and drawn out growls on the whole album. This could have been the closing track for all intents and purposes, but satisfying the old-school-ghouls was a clear priority for this album, so one more headbanger of a song, "The Pestilence" serves as the closer for the album. Unlike the classic Kreator song of the same name, this song isn't one to build up before unleashing its venom, as the whole song serves as one final lethal injection to ensure maximum musical mortality, as a respectable death metal album should.

Beyond doubt, Into the Crypts of Blasphemy is a choice cut for all old school death metal fans. Humble and heavy sums it up on the surface, but closer examination of this beast of an album's innards reveals a band with a great deal of passion for the music and a lifetime of devotion to their origins. It's stuff like this that makes me proud to call myself a metalhead; this album testifies for metal as being an inextinguishable, eternal flame. The lyrical references to bands such as Entombed, Dismember, Slayer, and Celtic Frost, the utter lack of filler, the punchy, unrestrained production values, and the honest-to-the-music cover art all validate this testimonial and indeed confirm the album as the truest of the true, for the truest of the true, quite the contrary to what the senseless detractors of the old school death metal revival would have you believe. This is no imitation, for Into the Crypts of Blasphemy, and Interment as a band, are certainly worthy of being counted among the greats of Swedish death metal.