Written by: Reese
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a big fan of atmospheric black metal, but not so much a fan of the recent blackened synth craze that’s been sweeping the underground. You’ve probably also got a recurring itch on your back that’s frustratingly just out of reach. Maybe that one is just me though. But I digress, it’s not hard for me to get swept up in a good atmospheric black metal album, but I’m much pickier with my ambient music. That’s why I’m such a big fan of Moulderyawn; this one-man black metal band truly brings together the best of both worlds in a way that’s both interesting and engaging.
A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is Moulderyawn’s second full-length album. I became aware of this band after discovering their 2016 debut album, From Whence the Woods, on Bandcamp, and while I was a fan of that album, A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is on an entirely different level. On past releases, the ratio of ambient to metal has been roughly 40:60, but on ADO it’s much closer to a 50:50 balance. Normally that would be a huge red light for someone like me who isn’t much of an ambient listener, but Moulderyawn's way of approaching songwriting allows the ambient soundscapes to be worked into the album in a manner that feels dynamic and robust. The fluid transitions from black metal to ambient make the album feel like one multi-textured movement rather than several black metal songs broken up by unrelated ambient interlude tracks, like many albums of this nature do.
But of course it’s the black metal that has me coming back. A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is paradoxically a pretty album and an abrasively raw album. Part of ADO’s charm is the album’s ability to create something beautiful from such “crude” building blocks. A gorgeous chord scale is still a gorgeous scale even when it’s played with several layers of distortion, and Moulderyawn realize this. They took that ball and ran with it as far as they could. The whole album feels like you’re in a lucid dream that you can’t wake up from; on one hand it’s very surreal and pretty, but on the other hand something feels “wrong” and there’s a pervasive malevolence that gives ADO a real set of teeth, as any good black metal album should have.
In the vocal department we’ve got all the usual shrieks, yelps and howls you’d expect from this style of depressive black metal, and mercifully absent is the clean singing that stains so many albums of this variety. Moulderyawn keep things grim and nasty, and when they want to give listeners a moment of calm to catch their breath, they let the music speak for itself. In keeping with the surreal, dreamlike theme of the album, the vocals are drenched in feedback and static; they sound like they’re being performed in a long hallway and being listened to through an old radio.
If this album is any indication, this is going to be a very good year for black metal. Had A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre been released last year it would have easily been among the year’s best. Sadly, ADO is set to be Moulderyawn’s final album, at least for the foreseeable future. But it’s a good note to bow out on, and a good record to be remembered for.
Moulderyawn - A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre was released Jan. 2019
Written by: Reese
I'm sure that most of you are aware that not all Cryptopsy albums are created equal. Those of you who’ve heard 2008’s metalcore-flavoured outing The Unspoken King are certainly aware of this fact. I will maintain that Cryptopsy have never released an album I would classify as “bad” but some come much closer than others. But fortune has smiled on the last handful of Cryptopsy releases, and the band seem to be on a much-needed upswing. After three years of keeping fans in suspense, Cryptopsy have finally unleashed the follow-up to The Book of Suffering - Tome I: Tome II.
I mentioned that Cryptopsy have been on a win streak over the course of their last few releases and they keep the momentum up on Tome II. This is very much a continuation of the sound found on Tome I. Cryptopsy are playing fast, and they’re playing tightly. Fortunately, they also manage to sideswipe the typical speedtrap that most modern tech death bands fall into: useless self-indulgence. There aren’t any riffs on this release that made me think “why?”, and the sad reality of the situation is that for Cryptopsy in 2018 that’s an accomplishment. I find that the EP is able to hold my attention for the entirety of its runtime, something unfocused, rambling techdeath rarely manages to do, even in short sub-20 minute bursts such as this.
Vocally, this is one of my favourite performances of Cryptopsy’s career. Matt McGachy’s screeching and howls are all over the place. He’s got a great range and he’s not afraid to play with it, something that helps develop modern Cryptopsy’s sense of identity that they might not otherwise have. The riffs on the other hand are a bit more hit and miss. For the most part though, they hit. They’re tight, technical and aggressive, but maybe not the most memorable. I enjoy myself while the songs are playing, but there are certain riffs I’d have a tough time remembering after the fact. But for the most part, these riffs are winners. I’d kill for the ability to play even half of them, and the tasteful but brief solos they toss in every once in a while only sweeten the deal.
My largest gripe with this EP is something that plagues the overwhelming majority of not only techdeath, but modern death metal bands in general: lame production. Not poor production, lame production. You can write the meanest riffs in the world, but when you scrub all the dirt off them in the mastering phase they’ll lose a significant amount of bite. Imagine this EP with None so Vile’s production. That would be sweet! I live for the day that death metal bands realize they aren’t doing themselves any favours with production jobs like these; not only does it take away from your band’s unique “sound”, it just makes your music sound less intense. And that’s the absolute LAST thing you want from your death metal.
All in all, this is a good EP that has some very good moments. It’s the best Cryptopsy have been in a while and it shows that the band recognize they have room left to grow and are doing their best to fill it. Whatever comes next for Cryptopsy should be even better. With a few more scans and a little more scum in the production and maybe a sharper set of hooks, Tome III (or whatever else the band have up their sleeves) could be a real killer.
Written by: Reese
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.