(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the second album by the Australian band Crypt Crawler, which which was first released in June 2021 (digital and CD), with a vinyl release set for August 6th via Bitter Loss.)
Death metal often worships at the altar of era. Roots in the genre’s beginnings give a needed reverence when creating new offerings, though this should not lead to a slavish devotion that creates cover bands.
This Australian band set themselves apart right from the bass riff leading into the opening song (“The Mouth of Death”). They also avoid creating a sonic monochrome of hyper aggression. This track might warrant the label progressive death metal, if the term goes beyond a tendency to obsess over wanky mathematics. The more adventurous side of their songwriting is at times subtle and their aggression rooted more in a taut thrashing.
The growl of the vocals is a guttural snarl falling somewhere between early Death and Obituary. They have both form and function within the songs and are not just an afterthought. They fall in the right places at the right times to help make these songs both memorable and catchy. The guitar work is great, serving the songs rather than trying to impress with dexterity. The tightly coiled aggression the riffs run on recalls old school thrash and the crossroads from which death metal was born.
They keep this big, epic, maximum headbanging momentum going into “Force Fed to the Dead”. Lyrically, death metal about zombies works for me. Lyrically the rest of the album is your typical metal tropes. Marco Ieritano‘s growl is articulated enough to make the lyrics pretty discernible.
More melodic elements are introduced with the guitar on “Delirium”, a doomier tone with rougher angular turns. I preferred the darker mood of “Inherent Complexion”, while in “Choir of Reprieve” they explode with rapid violence and steamroll you, which the genre is known for. This wider array of sonic color can be heard with “The Avaricious Ones”, which shows you can still be heavy and have some swing in the riffs. “Horrors of Humanity” picks up where the previous song left off, which works here since it was catchy; if it had just been a booming blast of double-bass then things might have become wearisome.
The guitar solos feel very Kirk Hammett influenced, which is a compliment as Kirk’s solos are generally memorable and not shred-obsessed. The band continue to prove in the last couple songs that they work best when keeping things deliberate even when leaning toward more progressive ambitions.
The fluid shifts in composition keep things interesting and make this an album I continue to return to, which is always the biggest compliment I can give a band since every morning my in-box is filled with albums vying for my attention. As far as at least death metal goes, this might be one of the best releases of the year so far. If you are into hooky melodic death metal with a progressive touch in the song-writing department then this album is a must.