Cryptborn // Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Crusty songs about rotting corpses = fun!
Label: Dark Descent Records
Release Dates: EU: 15.09.2011 | US: 09.15.2011
My oh my, more rancid, raw and caustic Swedish retro death, this time by way of Finland. Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead is the debut EP by Cryptborn and as with any proper Swedish retro death, it sounds as if it should have come out in 1990 along with the big releases from their obvious influences Entombed and Grave. It has that classic unrelentingly raw, buzzing guitar tone and vocals so low and phlegmy they almost rattle your speakers off the stands. Both Angry Metal Guy and myself have been eating up this particular trend while wondering when we would start to grow weary of it. While I can’t speak for AMG on this, I’m still enjoying it fully and most of the bands currently involved in this retro Swedish death wave are quite good. Now you can count Cryptborn among those doing it right and doing it crusty, rancid justice. Although its an EP, you still get seven tracks worth of face peeling, zombie attacking, brutal goodness and it packs everything you could want from this style (except originality since its retro).
Opening with “A Feast for the Grave” which is basically a drawn out intro, Cryptborn lay down their mission statement with little preamble and makes clear its going to be a long (28 minute) slog through abrasive guitar riffs and merciless death croaks. This one is a total dirge and it crawls along like a quadruple amputee, oozing evil and malevolence all the way. Damn that’s a nasty guitar tone! Once “The Gift of Rotten Flesh” kicks in, its Left Hand Path-style blistering death in all its glory and these guys know how to make this style work. Alternating between thrashy tempos and dirge, they keep the heaviness factor set to liquefy. Its a helluva good death metal number and once again shows why this specific style seems to have such longevity. “In the Grasp of the Starving Dead” keeps the goods coming with abrasive but lovable riffing and creepy church bells tolling in the distance (check out the cool but minimalist soloing at 3:33) and “Rotten Gates of Heaven” is a pulverizing monolithic track full of huge riffs. The bulk of the material here leans toward the sludgy dirge side of the spectrum and the sound has a fair amount in common with Disma‘s recent offering. While they go for the throat and hit the thrash button at times and always to good effect, like most Swedish retro death, this isn’t a light speed type of album. What it lacks in speed, it surely makes up for in suffocating heaviness. Their sound is absolutely crushing and all the songs are well above average in writing and delivery.
The guitars by V.M and K.L (no further names given) are flat out oppressive. Taking the basic guitar tone used by the bands in the Sunlight Studio days of the 90’s, they push the raw power up to eleven. After only a few tracks you will start to feel violated by the weight of the riffs and the sheer ugliness of the sound. While the toxic sound is what makes this EP such a treat, it does seem the rhythm guitar drowns out some of the lead solos, albeit they are few and far between anyway. Yngwie Malmsteen this certainly isn’t. The vocals by Christbutcher (also in Maveth) are about as low-register and guttural as it gets. He sounds evil, demonic, huge and mighty phlegmy. He’s also way up in the mix so you really get blasted by his grisly gurgles and bellowing.
This is a very solid debut by a band I’m personally excited to hear more from. This is exactly the style death metal I love and this EP really soothes my blackened heart. It isn’t original in the least and they don’t make the slightest effort to take the traditional Swedish death sound into new areas. What they do instead is beat you into a coma with vicious, repellent death and Steel Druhm never get tired of being beaten into comas. If you like old Entombed, Grave or Dismember or any of the new wave of retro death, this should move toward the top of your must hear list. Its fucking nasty. Cool cover too.