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Signs of stagnation - 65%

androdion, February 21st, 2013

Back when death metal began its transformation into a proper genre bands really needed to come up with innovative ideas to make a stand. But if you fast-forward twenty years into the middle of the current retro scene you’ll notice just how different things are now. The Internet has allowed everything in the metal world to reach just about anyone, giving any new musician a lot to digest and influences abound to build upon. Because of that we’ve been witnessing a tendency of newer bands appearing with a multifaceted sound, a jigsaw puzzle of different styles concatenated into one dark brew that tries to sound different than the rest with its specific amalgamation. Krypts are a good example of this, a band that not only makes good use of its birthing country’s doom-laden and atmospheric brand of death metal, but also of other influences coming from across the Atlantic. The main parallelism that can be made is with Funebrarum, mainly due to how the different elements are mixed but also in the vocals which are pretty similar. Krypts’ approach however is more intent on constantly upholding a gloomy atmosphere rather than crushing the listener senselessly, as to weave a dark cavernous feeling of hopelessness around the listener.

A two minute intro sets the tone in a well known Finnish style, repeating a morbidly delicious riff with that typical distortion that Abhorrence introduced so many years ago. Suddenly “Blessed Entwinement” jumps right in your face with crushing weight and a well defined bass sound, building up for a rampant explosion that takes little under a minute to occur. Brutish vocals and blasting drums ferociously attack you before the song falls again into a slower pace, keeping the foul stench going on with mid-paced repetition. This is just the first song but already similarities with Funebrarum can be witnessed throughout its execution, and the following, “Open The Crypt”, continues to vary between the more muscled attack and the doomier approach of Finndeath. The main riff after the intro is pretty cool and requests some movement in your neck area, as does the one by the third minute that introduces a faster section. However the song seems to repeat itself for way too long without ever being very dynamic, an idea that is also apparent on the other longer tracks, “Dormancy Of The Ancients” and “Beneath The Archaic”. The first for instance spends almost eight minutes doing exactly the same thing as before, having mid-paced atmospheric sections interweaved with more upbeat segments that apex in intense blasting. And while the leads employ that spacey melodious tone I enjoy so much it’s hard not to feel like there’s too little ideas spawned over too much time.

As I said above, the emphasis of this album is on its atmosphere and the employment of different moods throughout its execution. While the harmonious leads tend to give some sense of respite, the remaining bulk is more interested in provoking dread and fear of the unknown, painting a darkened veil that seems to suck you in. I’ll give the band some credit for being able to conjure such an unearthly miasma to cloak the entire album, but the fastidious lack of different dynamics ends up ruining what could be a much better album. I mean, why place a four minute song that only adds up to the doom factor after two songs that already amount to fifteen crawling and exceedingly long minutes? Why not make “Inhale…” a faster one to better balance the album instead of just repeating one riff for four minutes? Thankfully “The Black Smoke” emerges to correct this wrongdoing, putting out a main riff that is a total delight in its reminiscence to the days of yore. There aren’t really any new elements coming into play in this song, but the way in which the same elements are more dynamically arranged makes it stand out. And it’s this lack of rhythmic and riffing variation that ends up being the album’s major flaw, as Unending Degradation constantly reuses the same tricks in the exact same ways, rapidly turning into a recurring experience.

I have a big love for the Finnish death metal school, and I really don’t see any problem in its backbone being rearranged with disparate elements as long as they complement it. But when a band spends nearly forty minutes repeating the exact same ideas it’s hard to enjoy repeated listens of such an album, however good those ideas might be in the first place. There are currently new bands doing much better than this; with Undergang, Desecresy or Ataraxy being finer examples of this new generation. The guys in Krypts seem to be talented enough to thrive, but that extra flair that’s needed to make an album shine is sadly absent here. It seems to me that the retro scene is showing signs of an apparent saturation already, and albums like this one only reinforce that idea of mine. Unending Degradation is a decent album, but that’s pretty much it. It entertains for a while but ends up bringing nothing new to a scene that is becoming abused to the point of repetition.

Originally written for and posted at The Metal Observer