Cryptopsy // Cryptopsy
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Back to basics, because they had to!
Label: Self-Released | Candlelight USA
Websitescryptopsyfacebook.com
Release Dates: EU: 09.14.2012 | US: 11.20.2012
Written By: Alex Franquelli

It all comes down to point of view. Back in 2008, the highly acclaimed, highly discussed, (and ultimately) infamous The Unspoken King set a new milestone in what the metal crowd can despise. It was metalcore at its best; a new strain of a dying genre that the likes of The Red Chord, Bring Me the Horizon or Despised Icon were already changing beyond recognition. The music style was disappearing and so was its ideological scope, be it straight edge, Christian or pure punk rhetoric. The problem with The Unspoken King was that it was the wrong thing at the wrong time, in the perfectly wrong place: not only its cynical stance failed to appeal – thank god – to fans of Asking Alexandria, but it also managed to upset the purists of a genre – technical death metal – that Cryptopsy had helped to pioneer. Following that record, the band found themselves facing with a dilemma: comply with the rules of the (commercial) game or go back to what they do best. The answer is a 35-minute long mission statement, which reassures whoever felt the cause had been betrayed,  but it may also fail to impress whoever wants and needs to stay neutral in this feud. 

It’s technical, it’s brutal, it’s negative, and it’s Cryptopsy. It’s a safe bet. But at what price? The music on the new album (one whose very title says quite a lot on what side of the fence the band has chosen to sit) is frantic, nervous and somehow anxious to prove a point. The fact that guitarist Jon Levasseur is back in the ranks gives an idea of the choice made by the quintet: “we are back at doing what we do best.” But are they? Take any bit of this album and play it to any aficionado and you will get a positive response. The fury is there, their usually odd time signatures flow relentlessly in ways that take us back to albums like And Then You’ll Beg and Whisper Supremacy with the enthusiastic negativity expressed by Flo Mournier’s ferocious yet soulful drumming.

Gone are the breakdowns, the keyboards and yes, those clean vocals. The arrangement is rawer and as straightforward as ever with tracks like “Shag Harbour’s Visitors” or “Red Skinned Scapegoat” incorporating elements of fusion exactly the way you expect the masters of technical death metal to do. It’s reassuring to know that it’s all in there.

And the problem is exactly that. Coming out with a controversial album is always – always – a good thing. Mocking your many detractors to try to justify your choices is fun. Returning to your roots after all the fuss means admitting defeat and that is never a good thing. Never [Are you listening, Lars? ARE YOU??Steel Druhm].

Cryptopsy is a conventional album: one which sounds exactly the way hardcore fans want the band to sound, one which doesn’t betray the expectations of those who eagerly await the band’s new efforts, but which won’t appeal to those who so far have had no reason to care about them; one whose songs fulfil expectations or, as someone would say, “kick some ass”.

“Two-Pound Torch” is a lesson in extreme music orthodoxy: its metal in practice, but its jazz in theory. Jon Levasseur’s contribution is tangible in the changing rhythms that make the track flow without any gaps.Purists of death metal will love the dynamics behind “Damned Draft Dodgers,” with its relative simplicity and familiar tones (Morbid Angel, anyone?) before plunging into what could even be defined as ‘grindcore’.  If you want speed, you’ll find it in the intricate patterns behind “Ominous”, where Mounier’s drumming seems to lead the band into a series of time changes and riffs to make their moms proud.

The rest is, well, Cryptopsy and therefore should be nothing out of the ordinary; and the album flows unconvincingly towards the end (“Cleansing the Hosts”) with almost nothing to write home about.

Cryptopsy is a both a good and terrible album. It is another chapter in the history of a genre someone else is now better at writing, and it’s at the same time a transitional work: we now know how they sound and how we don’t want their music to be. These champions of death metal can only go forward: is that a good thing, or a bad thing?  It all depends on the point of view.