Reviews for October 18th, 2012

Cryptopsy – S/T

Cryptopsy – S:T.jpg

Montreal’s Cryptopsy have returned with their seventh album of brutal/technical death metal (or is it their sixth? Wink, wink.) I joke about it being their sixth because 2008’s “The Unspoken King” was a drastic change of style for the band, and amid the fan’s cries calling them sell-outs, some might have considered the album a hardcore/deathcore album rather than brutal death metal.

Back in 2008 when “The Unspoken King” was released I did not hate it, but I could understand the outcry. I generally feel that most styles of metal are only going to benefit from the addition of clean vocals, but those clean vocals have to be pure singing rather than sickly-sweet Linkin Park style vocals. If that is what you want, there is plenty of crappy metalcore out there to sate you. Before listening to the new self-titled Cryptopsy, I decided to go back and listen to some of “The Unspoken King.” I found that now I definitely have a stronger distaste for the sound on that record. Lucky for me (and everyone else), that is not the sound of the new album.

The new self-titled Cryptopsy album is definitely a return to form. Clean vocals? Gone. Deathcore sound? Gone. Crushingly brutal, yet technically astounding death metal? Big fuckin’ check.

For me, this is what a good, technical death metal album should sound like. I say this mainly because of the sound quality of the production. With a beast like Flo on drums, a crushing drum sound is to be expected, and making sure all that precise wizardry is audible is mandatory. Building on top of that foundation we find a tight and punchy guitar sound. Again, it would be a tragedy not to hear the level of detail in this area, so the sound is perfect. Death metal bands often have issues with burying the vocals under the music, or at least the vocals not contrasting enough to stand out. Given the reaming Matt took on the last album, it would not have surprised me to find him hanging back a little in the mix this time out, but no, he is in full-on death vox mode and can be heard prominently in the mix. Some may prefer a slightly less produced sound that hearkens back to the earlier albums (but even back then the production was pretty good for the time), but I like my death metal just like this.

Welcome back, Cryptopsy!

Need a taste? Here is "Two-Pound Torch."

Over Your Threshold – Facticity

Wow, sure sucks to be a death metal band and have to follow Cryptopsy. Sorry about that fellas, but Germany’s Over Your Threshold do a decent job of holding their own with their full-length debut, “Facticity.”

Death metal spans a variety of sounds, but this particular one leans in the progressive and technical direction. Rather than going for an overly brutal sound, OYT head down a path well worn by bands such as the aforementioned Cryptopsy, though Cryptopsy pulls off the brutal as well as technical. Which is not to say this album is weak and puny; what I mean is that rather than a beefy, wall-of-guitar sound, the guitars on this album take more of a thrash-style approach of having less low-end and more aural detail in the picking of the notes. While making it much easier to hear what is going on, this does sacrifice a little heaviness in the overall mix. I do not see this as a flaw, however, because I personally enjoy this method much more than the fuzzy wall of sludge.

This is death metal, so of course the vocals are harsh. Like the guitars, the vocals tend toward a higher pitch which helps cut through the music better than low, ethereal and guttural vocals. I am not talking King Diamond high, perhaps mid-level would be more accurate. I just mean that they are not so low that they get lost in the low-end of the music.

“Facticity” turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I had no idea what to expect going into the album, but coming out the other side I find myself satisfied. Check these guys out. Here is the track “Antic.”

Ad Patres – Scorn Aesthetics

French band Ad Patres continue today’s death metal theme with their full-length debut, “Scorn Aesthetics.”

Here is another band I have not heard of before (well, duh, it’s their first album) and damn do they make a first impression. The first thing I think of when listening to “Scorn Aesthetics” is the latest album from The Wretched End. Just like Samoth’s band, Ad Patres crushes right out of the gate. The music is fairly technical, and somewhat brutal, but it comes in a very tight package which pummels the listener over the head and drags them off to a cave to be consumed. Though, perhaps pummeled sounds too blunt and heavy-handed; maybe a better description would be like a sniper’s bullet speeding toward the forehead of its unsuspecting target.

The production on this album sounds great. All the elements are mixed well to give the songs a nice feeling of space while still sounding up in your face and punchy. For a first album this sounds amazingly well done. I have no qualms about recommending these guys. Check ‘em out.