(Andy Synn rekindles his long-standing love affair with Canada’s Cryptopsy)
It’s an unfortunate truism that life often forces us to make difficult choices.
Paper or plastic? Ketchup or mustard? Which one of your children would you save in a house fire…
Ok, so that last one is (thankfully) much more rare, but my point is that some decisions often seem impossible.
Case in point, next week sees the release of new albums from two of Death Metal’s heaviest hitters and techiest titans, aka Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy.
But chances are I’m only going to get chance to write about one of them prior to their shared release date.
Of course, the more perceptive amongst you may have already worked out which record I chose to cover, but I want you to know, all the same, that the decision wasn’t easy…
While I’m slightly disappointed that we’ll now probably never get another entry in the Books of Suffering series – those EPs were, inevitably, some of my favourite bite-sized bursts of brutality of their respective years – I doubt that anyone who considers themselves a Cryptopsy fan (especially those who appreciate the work of their post-self-titled incarnation – currently the longest-serving line-up in the group’s history) will be disappointed by As Gomorrah Burns.
Sure, it’s not None So Vile – which remains, unquestionably, one of the most seminal albums in Death Metal history for a reason – but it’s also not trying to be, and deserves to be judged on its own merits rather than whether or not it lives up to a larger-than-life legend.
That being said, those looking for a dangerously high dose of abusive audio extremity and terrifying technical terrorism that more than does justice to the group’s roots will undoubtedly love tracks like “Godless Deceiver” and “The Righteous Lost”, whose blast-propelled percussion and cripplingly-contorted riffs (Mounier and Donaldson once again proving to be a truly lethal pairing) should more than satisfy any cravings for the band’s signature brand of barely-controlled-chaos.
At the same time, the increased focus on gruesome grooves (“In Abeyance”) and darker, more morbidly melodic touches (“Flayed the Swine”) helps give As Gomorrah Burns a more distinctive identity of its own, and while it’s not always as instantly hooky as their 2012 rebirth album – though I guarantee you that some of the most barbed riffs and vicious vocal patterns will end up embedded in your brain whether you like it or not – there’s a definite sense that the band’s eighth album is as much of a grower (consider the unexpectedly gloomy slow-burn of “Obeisant”, for example, which might just be the best track here) as it is a shower.
Let’s face it, Cryptopsy have always been a band who – whether due to choice or circumstance – have committed themselves to always moving forwards, rather than looking backwards. But that’s ok, because it was looking back at the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah which turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, and I’d rather they keep on travelling their own path than have that happen to them!