Crypt Monarch – The Necronaut Review

Sometimes, you need something a little bit different. Other times, you need something a lot a bit different. In times other than those, you need a lot of somethings a lot a bit different. This is one of those times for me; for whatever reason, I’m not finding that 2021 is a good year for new music – at all. So I have increasingly been opening my arms and ears far and wide in an attempt to find something different, something new to excite me and rekindle the spark. This path has today led me to Crypt Monarch, a stoner doom band from Costa Rica, and The Necronaut, their debut full-length release. I don’t listen to this style often; the band says their music is for fans of Acid King, Sleep, Belzebong, and Conan, and I have only passing familiarity with one of those acts. But I’m open to new things today – how does The Necronaut hold up?

Fuzzily. It holds up fuzzily. As I just mentioned in my introduction/disclaimer paragraph, I really don’t listen to stoner metal very often. And yet, The Necronaut sounds exactly like I thought it was going to: a single track of guitar and bass blend together to form fuzzy riff-laden atmospheres that waver idly between “too slow” and “middle-of-the-road,” largely sticking to singular, easily-digestible themes that define each track. For the most part, the drums don’t get much to do, but are mixed in high enough to exist as a noticeable element in the music. Vocals are gruff, mixed low, and tend to be drawn out, acting closer to instrumental enhancements than thematic centerpieces. This does not strike me as an album of surprises or innovation – Crypt Monarch has a style in mind, a theme in mind, and a sound in mind, and the result is a laid-back, fairly predictable album. Opener “Morning Star Through Skull,” for example, gets its first “oh, hey, that’s different” moment about twelve minutes into the song when the guitar transitions into a lead to play a variation on the song’s primary theme.

Predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and there’s something to be said for an album that is comfortable in its space. The Necronaut is not coming to energize, excite, or revitalize you, and that’s okay. With that said, however, I do wish that Crypt Monarch had branched out a little bit with their sound. With three tracks spanning thirty-six minutes (incidentally, that’s the most “doom” thing about the album), the band has essentially taken three core ideas and explored them to their fullest, with no track dropping below the ten-minute mark. At times, however, it feels a little like Crypt Monarch had three good ideas, stopped there, and stretched them into a project just long enough to avoid being branded an EP.

I do think it is important to highlight, however, that if this is indeed an album of three good ideas – and that would definitely be a harsh interpretation to land on – that they are three good ideas. The closing two minutes of “Rex Meridionalis” are an album highlight; a thrumming riff sweeps across the fuzz to cap off a journey into realms beyond sober comprehension. From here, the transition into “Aglaophotis” works well enough to get the head nodding with little extra prompting. The riffs aren’t heavy, but there do sound good. If there are two things that The Necronaut really have going for it, they are sound and flow. The album is mixed and produced well, with every instrument getting moments of highlight and contributing to a full sound. Better yet, the album has tremendous flow, with natural segues and transitions that help the whole to come together in a satisfying way, even in the album’s less engaging moments.

In the end, I’ve found it hard to judge Crypt Monarch accurately through The Necronaut. There’s a bunch of stuff I like about the album, a bunch of stuff I didn’t like, and the looming knowledge that I’ve waded into territories that I rarely venture through to complicate things (though I definitely think the Acid King comparison is apt). Still, if you’re a fan of the style, I would recommend checking this one out; I know I’ll be open to hearing more the next time these guys come around, though I will be hoping for more when they do.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Electric Valley Records
Websites: | 
Releases Worldwide: July 23rd, 2021

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