Written by: Slammey Stanley
Dwelling within the bowels of Maggot Stomp trucker-bros and old-school thrashers lies Technical Death Metal’s most tired and abused insult: it isn’t brutal. These folks could admit the talent behind a minor-7-diminished-13th-whatever-the-fuck arpeggio being played at 300 BPM, but where’s the core of the brutality? Where’s the connection to the very heart, gore, and soul of the genre? Despite their arguably bland position as a staple motif, there’s an undeniable power to caveman riffs that isn’t present in a flurry of notes, or at the least, not in the same regard. Looking past the subgenre itself, the majority of modern, cutting edge Death Metal is bound to contain some extent of Technical prowess; to deliberately avoid the technical element would be to shut oneself off to most of the genre. But what about a perfect conjunction of Brutal Death Metal and Technical Death Metal? Odious Mortem have proven it to be a possibility on their past two records, and with a thirteen-year gap between Synesthesia and Cryptic Implosion, one would think that the Tech-Death titans would only strengthen that bond. And so the question remains: do they?
Written by: Bane Ov Silence
The Artisan Era is a label that has put out some of the best tech death releases of the past three years. Bands such as Equipoise, Mordant Rapture, and Aethereus have established themselves as some of the most interesting and talented groups in extreme metal today. That is why I had very high expectations for this Warforged release, particularly since the band has been working on this record for the past five years.
Sadly, when the first single came out, "We’ve Been Here Before," I realized that the album was probably going to be a disappointment. While the song has its high points, particularly the solo that reminds me of something Inferi would have written for Path of Apotheosis, it is mostly disappointing and forgettable. The piano interlude halfway through the song was unnecessary and broke all the song’s momentum. Most bands on The Artisan Era have very clear production, where every note and drum hit can be easily heard, which is why I was surprised that Warforged opted for a much more disorganized and chaotic mix. While this works for many other bands, it ends up muddying Warforged’s sound, and hinders certain aspects of this record.
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.