Crypts of Despair – All Light Swallowed Review

The scientist works in his laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility he’d built for himself into the side of a volcano. Spurned by society and sentenced to exile for his inhumane experiments, he toils relentlessly to achieve the ultimate revenge. He will unleash a debilitating plague upon the entire planet, a feculent biological abomination infinitesimal in size but infinite in potency. He just needs the right elements combined in the proper order in specific quantities, and the world will rot with no hope of recuperation. The cherry on top is his delivery system. His volcano, dormant for seven millennia, shall serve quite nicely once he induces its most devastating eruption in its history and lets the fetid ash fall. Just the thought of it coming together gives this evil genius pleasurable chills down his spine.

But what should be his soundtrack to this magnificent event? Of course! Crypts of Despair’s sophomore record All Light Swallowed! The album title, the artwork, the music—it all fits the image of a virulent black cloud looming over an entire world, extinguishing the sun and stars only to then extinguish the life of all that is flesh and bone. Catastrophic riffs swirl through murky depths spattered with trem-picked abrasions, retched guttural emanations gurgle alongside bloodcurdling shrieks, and the world around them disintegrates amongst the falling ash as is their will. Lithuania quartet Crypts of Despair deals in the kind of metal that is not to be survived. It will fucking murder you and leave your rendered flesh for diseased vultures to consume and regurgitate for their vile spawn, assuming that vultures actually do that.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of that approach at its most potent. Second cut “Anguished Exile” is the first to exhibit such potency, etiolating everything around it while simultaneously balancing different extreme styles like it was born for the tightrope. Bleak and menacing, the track swings from the blackened fury of opener “Being – Erased” straight into a singularity of brutal death metal, and back again. At times, riffs sound like they could find inner peace on a gruesome slam record, but it almost sounds twice as good placed in these ashen fields instead. Later on in the record, “Condemned to Life” and “The Great End” showcase how absolutely massive Crypts of Despair’s sound gets, weighing down the planet with tectonic steel plates of doomified death. With minimal layering, the band achieve this impenetrable bleakness, this unquellable dread that most bands struggle to impart, all without sacrificing so much as a lick of neck-breaking verve.

Instead, Crypts of Despair traded a small amount of distinguishing features in exchange for unfuckwithable delivery. “Choked By the Void” brings more old school death metal philosophies into play, relying on solid, chunky riffing and tried-and-true drum patterning. Songs that follow this template—like “Digust,” “Excruciating Weight” and “Synergy of Suffering”—scatter themselves across the album in a loosely structured order, which creates variety and a small measure of unpredictability. However, these tracks also lack the same passionate destructiveness of their more beastly peers. In resting on the laurels of proven metallic certitudes to deliver the thickest, juiciest blackened death metal possible, Crypts of Despair forgot to bring along their calling card, a unique marker which separates their sound from that of their ancestors. Closing track “Bleak View” also appears to be a throwaway instrumental, which needlessly fluffs an otherwise lean and mean thirty-eight minutes. Whether this mars the experience for me over time remains uncertain, but it’s still an annoying trend which needs to die.

Nevertheless, I expect the sheer levelling power of All Light Swallowed’s blinding highlights (which were obviously too bright to be swallowed) to carry this album throughout my year as the easily digested, feral monster that it is today. At its best it pulls no punches and it knows how to exploit all of your weaknesses. At its worst, it still works. Save for a few songs that could use some Chemical X, plus one disposable instrumental, fans of the style and newcomers alike should find All Light Swallowed to be the perfect companion to their ultimate demise beneath the shadow of volcanic inclemency.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

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