(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Cryptopsy, which is set to drop this Friday, October 26th.)
So I didn’t intend for this week to be some sort of “Seven Days of Tech Death”-style celebration, but considering that on Saturday I published an interview with James Malone from Arsis, on Monday my reviews of the new Beyond Creation and Gorod albums went up, and I already have a suitably tech-tastic edition of The Synn Report lined up for Friday… well, it looks like things have ended up that way regardless.
So, I thought to myself, why not stick with this trend and pen a few thoughts about the soon-to-be-released new EP from those stalwart sons of Canadian darkness, Cryptopsy?
Now it occurs to me that, like it or not, we really need to acknowledge that Flo Mounier and his merry band of misfits are now well into what you might call the “second act” of their career.
Granted, their existence has, in many ways, been split up into some notable “phases” before this (largely defined by whatever vocalist they had at the helm at the time), but the release of their self-titled album way back in 2012 seemed to mark a major turning point for the group, whose line-up (and even their legacy) had been very much in flux for around a decade by this point.
There are, of course, always going to be those who’ll continue to turn their noses up at the modern incarnation of Cryptopsy for being “too Tech” or “too Core” or “too… whatever”, but ultimately that’s their prerogative, and to my mind (and ears) the locking in of a consistent core – with Mounier now joined in his crusade by guitarist Christian Donaldson, vocalist Matt McGachy, and bassist Olivier Pinard – signalled the effective rebirth of the band as an entity dedicated to moving forwards, and not just looking backwards in an attempt to recapture old glories.
Which perhaps makes it slightly ironic that the four songs which make up Tome II are all possessed of a certain sense of calculated, barely-constrained chaos reminiscent of the band’s seminal None So Vile days.
Of course that’s not to say that songs like pulverising opener “The Wretched Living” and its suitably sadistic sibling “Sire of Sin” are going to instantly win over any of the band’s ex-fans who checked out the first (or second) time that Lord Worm left the group, as these tracks are still very much a product of the crunchier, more high-tech approach which underpinned their 2012 “rebirth” album, but the almost rabid intensity with which they’re delivered feels like it was drawn right from what many would consider to be the band’s glory days.
Mounier is still one of the best there is at what he does (and what he does isn’t always pretty), deploying scatter-gun rhythms and daisy-cutter blastbeats like a one-man murder machine on every single track (with closer “The Laws of the Flesh” being especially punishing), but the rest of the band are all on top form here too, from Donaldson’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of feverish, finger-flensing riffs and deliciously off-kilter grooves (that meta-breakdown at the end of “Sire of Sin”, for example, is a thing of absolute beauty), to Pinard’s twanging, tendon-stretching bass-lines that pop and snap with their own particular brand of crippling precision.
It’s McGachy who often shines the most, however, delivering his most varied, venomous, and unapologetically unhinged performance yet for the band. And while this probably won’t matter much to his many detractors (most of whom will probably never forgive him for those clean vocals on “the album which shall not be spoken of”), the mix of gibbering shrieks, gut-wrenching growls, and rapid-fire barks (not to mention the odd unexpected, but undeniably effective, bit of ominous spoken-word) which he deploys on this EP suggest that he’s long-since moved past any urge to try and live up to, or copy, either of his predecessors, and is instead simply happy to mangle his vocal chords and indulge his own macabre metallic fantasies entirely on his own terms.
Long story short, if you’re the type of Cryptopsy “fan” who explicitly wrote them off after Once Was Not then chances are this EP won’t convince you to change your mind. And that’s ok, you’ll always have the classics to enjoy.
But if you’re someone who hasn’t checked in with the Canadian destroyers for a little while, or someone who’s been trapped on the fence between the “old” and the “new” eras of the band, then this is the perfect place to start getting reacquainted with their current manifestation.