(Austin Weber wrote this show review, and music streams are included.)
At the very beginning of 2014, January 14th to be exact, I was finally able to see upstart New York prog-metal wunderkinds Cryptodira for the first time live. It was a show that I covered for NCS with resident photographer Nik Vechery taking some killer pictures. I mention this because as we move into 2015, I got to see Cryptodira again, and eerily enough, just a day later in January than when I saw them last year. What another fitting start to the year.
Unfortunately, due to my boss not telling me he was able to get my shift covered until I showed up for work the night of the show, I was unable to have Nik accompany me and take pictures. Normally I would have borrowed someone’s camera, but I couldn’t make that happen on such short notice, so most of the photos in this post were taken on my sub-par quality phone camera, with a few Cryptodira shots taken by the fill-in vocalist for Wings Denied, Jeff Klemm.
I arrived later to the show than I would have liked, since I was under the impression I would have to work that night. And with my boss letting me leave only after I arrived at work, I got stuck in a shitriver of shit rush-hour traffic, compounded by having to travel through areas undergoing road construction on my way to New Albany, Indiana, from Louisville, Kentucky. As a result, I missed the opening act, Malignant Visions. So the show review will begin with Wings Denied, who went on shortly after I arrived.
While I’d heard of Wings Denied previously, and had been hearing them praised quite a bit, I admit I had never listened to their music prior to seeing them live. They put on a hell of a set, sounded extremely tight as a group, and they definitely won me over. Sometimes a live performance of a band will do that for me.
As a group, they fit somewhere between djent and metalcore for the most part, but they definitely mix it up with some interesting melodic leads, atmospheric, dense moments that are hypnotic, and even some melodic death metal type riffs occasionally. Their songwriting is definitely better than the majority of bands playing this type of metal right now. Further proof that this band is worth your attention are the crazy guest spots on their album, including names such as Joe Lester (Intronaut) and Nick Llerandi (Ever Forthright).
The band also don’t offer up the old boring cliche of good cop/bad cop, scream then sing vocals. There are a few growls and screams, but almost every song is purely singing. Which is normally my biggest issue with the genre, because often the singing doesn’t seem to fit the riffs and flow of the music, and also because I think most of the singers I’ve heard backing this kind of style suck. Wings Denied have a very talented singer, he has great range, sustain, and makes full use of his voice in a variety of beautiful ways.
Now when I saw them at this show, they had a fill-in vocalist, because their singer had visa issues and thus has been unable to play the tour. So they had Jeff Klemm fill in, and he has to be one of the best singers I’ve heard within this style. He definitely was very spot-on, as I noticed when later listening to the CD versions of the songs I had heard live, courtesy of the band.
[Speaking of Jeff Klemm, he has his own band called Maid Myriad based in Akron, Ohio, who play what they refer to as “kaleidescopic rock”, a term I agree with. They draw from all over the place, with sludge and grooves in spots as well. The band released an album last year called With Haste On Its Breathe. I was unaware of the record until hearing it courtesy of Jeff, who graciously gave me a copy before I left. I’ve become quite enamored of the record. It’s sublime yet dense, a strange amalgamation of ideas that makes for an intriguing and engaging metal/rock hybrid of a record.]
It’s rare to hear bass guitar in this kind of style as well, so I was very happy at how audible and massive their bassist sounded live, and how much more that helped fill in their sound and build earth-shaking heaviness on stage. The band’s drummer, Alec Kossoff, mentioned to me that due to the fill-in vocalist situation, they were unable to play any of the new songs they’ve been working on, but that new music is indeed coming!
This Washington, D.C.-based outfit are one to watch for sure. The progressive tendencies strewn throughout their album, combined with a lengthy and impressive closer, make me feel that their next material will be even better.
photo by Jeff Klemm
I’ve written about Cryptodira several times at NCS. They are one of my favorite rising bands with seeming unlimited potential and desire to explore different territory with each release. The band very recently dropped a 7″ split record with East Of The Wall, of all bands! That’s pretty damn cool and to me just further validation of Cryptodira’s quality.
Cryptodira ended up playing their latest aggro-prog/hardcore/post/groove/mathcore epic, “Speaking The Ocean”, which is their contribution to the split with East Of The Wall, who did a very interesting metal re-interpretation cover of Nick Drake’s song “Riverman”.
The band also busted out a very interesting new song that has yet to be recorded, which they said was still going to undergo some tweaks. It was awesome to get to hear that. Following that the band worked their way into the track I helped premiere at NCS, “Dissent”. It’s one of their most ruthless and frenzied tracks, and live, it took on a whole other level of energy, compounded by the band members full-body headbanging and stomping around while playing.
photo by Jeff Klemm
The band also played “Allies To Ignorance”, as they did the last time I saw them. It’s a favorite of mine from their 2013 album, Recursions. After a deftly constructed journey the song fades out into a wall of trippy fuzz and noises as both guitarists Scott and Mike fiddle with various pedals to create a wild soundscape and kickass outro.
Seeing Cryptodira live is a real rush, an intense experience, both refined and raw in nature. The scariest part about Cryptodira is how much they’ve continued to evolve — keep an eye on these guys. Lucky for you there are still a few days left on their tour if you can make it. The remaining shows with Wings Denied are:
The Sidebar Tavern
Baltimore, MD *Cryptodira only
DEAD BY DESIGN
Cryptodira decided not to headline like last time in order to keep more of the crowd present for whichever local or nearby band would play last. It’s a smart move, considering that people often leave once their friends’ band has played.
With a name like Dead By Design, I assumed the band was either deathcore or some other type of death metal. I wasn’t too far off as they did play a fair bit of deathcore in their music.
All I will say is that the music seems to have an identity crisis, with “alt-rock”/pop-punk verses intermingled unexpectedly, and without much transition, with the metal portions of the songs.