The breathtakingly savage death metal band Ecryptus introduce themselves as “an elite group of assassins from Korriban, now based in Atlanta, Georgia. We dispense galactic death metal inspired by the Dark Side and brutal tales of the Canon Arcane.”
For those who may not be as steeped in the lore of Star Wars as the marauders in Ecryptus, one internet source discloses that Korriban “was the original homeworld of the Sith species and a sacred planet for the Sith Order, housing the tombs for many ancient and powerful Dark Lords of the Sith, and containing immense dark side power.”
And for those who may not speak Mandalorian, the title of Ecryptus‘ new EP — Kyr’am Beskar — means (what else?) “Death Metal” in the tongue of far-flung Mandalore.
The band’s immersion in the Star Wars mythos and their unabashed embrace of the Dark Side as an animating force in their music is certainly enough to induce interest in many of us geeks, but of course what really counts is how Ecryptus translate these interests into music. Unless the music pays off, the thematic concept would quickly be forgotten as an empty gimmick. Fortunately, the music is frighteningly good.
This new EP, which we present today in advance of its January 14 release by SBDC Records, succeeds in creating an atmosphere of intergalactic darkness in sometimes subtle but quite effective ways. But it really seizes attention because it’s such an adrenaline-fueled shock-and-awe campaign, one that’s technically eye-popping, eerie and evil, and terrifically obliterating.
Feel free (of course) to jump down to the music player and get slaughtered immediately, but we’re going to provide both our own impressions of each of the four tracks AND share the band’s own quotes about each of them.
After a brief vocal sample Ecryptus erupt(us) in the opener “Cauterized Saber Wound Massacre” with a storm of heavy-caliber drum munitions, rapidly roiling riffage, and a tandem of gruff growls and vicious screams. The music thunders and pounds with pavement-splitting power and whines in a semblance of slaughtering derangement. With rhythmic shifts, the pounding becomes even more brutalizing and atonal, and the riffing grows even more super-heated and crazed, and the guitarist laces the track with swirling and wailing fretwork that gives the music a glittering shine that’s eerie and exotic.
From the band: “Grinding out the macabre scene of an entire field of bodies, cleaved effortlessly by a maniac wielding a laser sword.”
There’s plenty of brute-force pounding to come in “Planetary Enslavement“, along with an early guitar embellishment that’s hypnotic, and doses of rapid-fire jackhammering and light-speed drum assaults. But the band also reduce the drum obliteration in order to introduce misery-steeped melody, and accelerate again in order to pave the way for spurts of shrill, shrieking guitar. Back and forth the band go, slowing and speeding up, creating sharp contrasts in the drum patterns and in the music’s mood. There’s definitely a forlorn aspect to the melodic accents, and pure torment in the high-flying vocal screams and berserker riffing.
From the band: “The morose tale of an entire species being forced into slavery under the rule of an invading empire. The track chugs into a furious battle, a bitter and tragic loss of life.”
By this point you’ll have fully realized that the instrumentalists in Ecryptus have some eye-popping technical chops, and also a penchant for dynamism in their songwriting. All of that comes through again in “Compulsion to Disintegrate“, which includes both flurries of maniacal fretwork frenzy and drumming that would fit right in with a mechanized military attack, as well as guitar-and-bass work that seems to dance and bound. There’s a kind of mad, swinging and darting ecstasy that radiates from the song, and a slithering and sparkling guitar solo makes that feeling even more powerful. You may also be induced to chant along with the gang vocals of the “Atlanta Metal All-Stars” who help bring the track to a close.
From the band: “A lightning-fast barn burner, rife with gravity blasts and all the shred! Follow a Mandalorian bounty hunter on a ride through the galaxy to collect undead trophies!”
After the exhilarating display the band put on in that last track, the closing song “Digested Over a Thousand Years” begins in much bleaker fashion. Even when the riffing becomes jittery, there’s a feeling of distress in the music, a feeling underscored by blaring melodies and feverish drum progressions. At times the rhythm becomes a staggering, lurching cadence and the music induces a feeling of dread — but eventually the drums begin blasting and a solo spills out and gloriously soars. And of course Ecryptus aren’t going to let the EP end without another breathtaking discharge of war-zone obliteration and a final skull-smashing pound-fest which brings the song’s most dismal aspects back to the forefront.
From the band: “This track invokes the doom, dread, and insanity of being slowly digested, regenerated, and digested again over the course of a millennium. The song begins a doom-laden funeral overture, then blasts into a movement of insanity before slowly fading into oppressive doom.”
Mike “Lord Crypt” Michalski – Guitars and Vocals
Allen “Lord Tenebris” Keller – Bass and Vocals
Danny “Dann Solo” Ryann (ex-Gigan) – Drums
Studio musician: Justin Brown – Guitars
The EP was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Alex Parra at Second Sight Sound, and features artwork by Mike Michalski and layout by Vadim from Ungodly Ruins.