We at AMG have a sense of history and like to think we’re in touch with metal’s ancient lore (kindly refrain from jokes about Steel Druhm’s age). With that in mind, we thought it might be fun to highlight notable albums released between twenty and thirty years ago in a new feature we call…YER METAL IS OLDE!
While None So Vile is easily one of the most beloved and respected releases in the technical death metal canon, it’s not the first thing Cryptopsy put out, nor is it the first display of their distinctive sound. Almost everything needed to engrave the band’s name onto the Great Monolith of Brutality was present on their first and best named album Blasphemy Made Flesh, which, astoundingly, turns 20 this November. This metal might be old, but I’m not; when Quebec’s finest dropped their first LP, I was still growing lungs. Is it possible for an inerudite youth such as myself, pampered by the trappings of a modern metal life, to appreciate something so ancient?
Emphatically, yes. “Defenestration” spends just two measures on an intro before it involutes your entire skull. That wall of sound is so abrupt, jarring, and just abhorrent that it’s bound to floor anyone listening to it today, let alone in 1994. If there’s one thing Cryptopsy is and has always been fantastic at, it’s sudden, violent explosions of sound, whether they’re made by the guitars, drums, or Lord Worm’s ridiculously abused respiratory tract. There’s no shortage of split-second changes in riffing and noise in Blasphemy Made Flesh, which continues pummelling you from start to finish, never truly relenting until the final shout in “Pathological Frolic,” a fittingly abrupt end to the album.
Speaking of “Pathological Frolic,” let’s talk about that song for a moment. The rolling groove that opens it up features a perfect harmonized bass/guitar riff that accentuates the pop of the bass when Martin Fergusson whales on his axe. Once again at around a minute in the bass takes over with a fantastic and menacing melody before joining the guitars in an almost sub-audible register to prelude the solo section. There Jon Levasseur rips through the impeccable backing riff, echoing it while adding little flourishes and twists, to provide what is unquestionably his best performance on the entire album.
Levasseur isn’t the only one pushing out mind-blowing performances though. The savvy will recall that this album was the world’s introduction to not only the maleficent Lord Worm’s completely incomprehensible mouthy shouts, but to the joy and wonder of Flo Mounier’s unparalleled drumming. “Graveyard (a Cryptopsy)” showcases his violent attacks as well as his excellent fills, and “Memories of Blood” and “Mutant Christ” see Lord Worm screaming at both ends of his wide range. There are truly no dull moments.
Blasphemy Made Flesh was and still is an exceptional début from an exceptional group of musicians. Twenty years later, the performances are still impressive and the songs still sound fresh(ly disinterred). The violence of “Defenestration,” the drum attacks on “Graveyard (a Cryptopsy)” and the mixing of groove, brutality and melody in “Pathological Frolic” aren’t just great, they’re a milestone in death metal history, a mission statement from what would prove to be one of the greatest bands in the genre for decades to come.