Friday, September 14, 2012

Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy (2012)

The wave of relief has flowed, by this time, through the once stupefied fan base of a band cheekily called Craptopsy, and for legitimately good reason. To moo along with so much headbanging cattle, 2008’s The Unspoken King was indeed a travesty, an unsightly and pustular blemish on the face of a nigh-untouchable career. Though we can debate the semantics til our necks snap, over how much each post-None So Vile release has whetted our respective pants, it’s generally agreeable that until the Unspoken King, Cryptopsy were a force to be feared on the looming mountain of death metal. However, with the inclusion of a whining new vocalist and a stylistic cannonball into the (larely) artistically devoid cesspit known as metalcore, the faithful were rightly disillusioned. It may not have been a betrayal on the level of Morbid Angel, but the band’s subsequent dismissive reaction toward their own fan base for not loving the smell of their mutated farts was roughly as gracious as Trey’s leather-clad gang have been, which is to say, pretty much devoid of grace.

Well, here is your apology. Mr. Mounier and clan might never outright admit as much, but this is as clear a sign as we’re ever going to get that the band realized being up shit creek without a paddle or a fan was no place for an underground band. Whether the switch back to inspired, interesting death metal was one of artistic choice or monetary necessity, we may never know, but I’d like to think there’s a nice grey area there, and that the band really desired a meaningful place in their fans hearts once more.

Thus, we enter Cryptopsy, the oddly self-titled 7th release of this maniacal band of psychotics, an obvious nod to the concept of artistic rebirth and reaffirmation of once-stagnant power. As rightfully apprehensive as I was, and many others were, concerning this change of heart, you can rest easy in the knowledge that this is indeed Cryptopsy as you know and love them. Perhaps not quite as memorable and immortal as the first few defining releases, or my personal favorite Once Was Not (gasp!), but an intrinsically solid, valuable addition to their discography nonetheless, and certainly one of the more hectic death metal outings to grace these ears of late.

Of the 8 tracks and 35 minutes available, I truly wouldn’t sacrifice nearly anything. There are a select few moment where the core aesthetics linger, like the remnants of a bad hangover, such as the chugging midsection of Red-Skinned Scapegoat, but the song flips an immediate and appreciative 180 into a fantastic solo, oddly reverts back to the chugging, and then boils down into a relaxing, jazzy bridge. These songs are frantic, frenetic, and wildly insane, so if you dislike the feeling of a certain moment or riff, it’s not a big deal, as another swiftly cuts it down and takes its place within moments.

This is both the albums strength and its weakness, if I may be so trite in saying so. Cryptopsy is an immense, mechanical Frankenstein of savage, whirling riffs and rhythmic ideas, where every turn of a corner unveils a tasty surprise, and this makes the album truly fun and interesting to explore. However, this choppy, cut-and-paste style of composition also limits the inherently memorable qualities native to the individual subsections. It’s simply too chaotic to have staying power in my memory banks. However, seeing as it embodies what I enjoy most about the early works of the band, that’s a trait I must take in stride. Truly, the only Cryptopsy album to resonate within my gray matter long after a listen is the overtly divisive Once Was Not, an album I thought was borderline genius. In any event, though, this is a hyperactive smorgasbord of intense ideas that will not let down the faithful, and if you have the exacting dyslexia to remember compositions as intense as those on Blasphemy Made Flesh, you can feel free to ignore my criticisms.

Truly, Cryptosy is insane, with a lot of really interesting moments. The chilly, creeping intro and psychotic robo-pounding breakdown of Shag Harbour’s Visitors are a thrill. The clinical buzz-saw extirpation of Damned Draft Dodgers and Amputated Enigma (great title) feels like Meshuggah and Aborted rode a thermonuclear missile into the heart of the sun, though the latter trails off with a rampaging spiral of chord abuse fit for use in some soilent butcher’s shop. The Golden Square Mile trades off dispositions between intense bludgeoning and fluent, melodic riffing, a fitting note of madness for this mechanistic monstrosity to end on.

The inherent creativity of the riffing can likely be attributed to the return of long-time guitarist Jon Levasseur, as well as a likely upshift back into the realm of slamming, grinding death. He and Donaldson trade cuts like they’ve been together for years, a pair of mad doctors teaming up for an exciting dissection. Flo is once again an incomprehensible machine behind the kit, a roiling storm of savagery and finesse with no equal in his coordinated madness. Most visibly, though, singer Matt McGachy, a truly horrid addition to The Unspoken King, has done all in his power to rid himself of any core-based inflections, including the heinous ruin of those excruciating emo cleans. He now adds a nice, low-end rhythmic punch with his guttural bravado, strikingly similar to Sven from Belgian gore-gurus Aborted. Also worth a hefty mention is new bassist Olivier Pinard, a vital component of this record, with so much fingering ability his girlfriend likely never leaves the house. His clanging, audible (!) additions are intense, creative, and highly appreciated.

To wrangle a summation out of this heap, and to quote another reviewer with a perfect, succinct approximation of value: apology accepted. Cryptopsy is an interesting, brutal record, and certainly puts the band back on track for hopeful future excellence. It’s not one of the most inherently memorable death metal albums to cross my path of late, and I’m not sure how much staying power it will have as months roll into years, but as a reaffirmation of standing for a band formerly so askew and disheveled, it’s a definitive beacon of hope and invigoration. Even if you’re not one of the faithful, Cryptopsy is a cyclonically brutal release that should satisfy even the most hardcore of you extreme death mavens. Well done, Cryptopsy. Thank you sir may I have another!

  8 / 10 - Spitting Blood and Ashes