Dark Descent Records is a label I have a lot of time for. Featuring a diverse global roster heavily leaning towards the death metal genre, the label boasts an excellent track record of unearthing quality bands specializing in putting innovative, refreshing spins on the bloated corpse of old school death metal. Bringing the ugly, primal nature of the genre’s roots to the fore, the label’s leading acts add ingredients from their various geographical backgrounds into a sound heavily influenced by the mighty Incantation, cultivating a sound more authentic and organic than your run of the mill modern death metal band. One such band is Finland’s Krypts, who caused a stir with their debut LP Unending Degradation in 2013, sending the underground buzzing with superlatives praising the album’s dense, claustrophobic atmosphere and cavernous brand of suffocating death, sharing similar bloodlines with like-minded bands and label mates such as Binah, Desolate Shrine, and Corpsessed. In a nutshell, Krypts deliver intense, bowel-loosening pummels dripping with sinister atmosphere, imposing mid-paced rumbles and moments of controlled, blasting chaos.
For reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, the band’s solid debut didn’t wow me like it did others, leaving me a touch underwhelmed after diving headlong into the thick as a brick stew of churning riffs and unsettling atmosphere. Repeat listens after an extended break have been kind and my opinion of the album is a little more positive. So being a persistent trooper I jumped on Krypts follow-up platter, Remnants of Expansion, hopeful they could capitalize on their considerable potential. Despite the three-year gap between LP’s, Krypts haven’t hatched a radical plan for a dramatic shift in tact, or disrupted their established formula, or reinvented the wheel. What has occurred is a significant tightening of their musical chops and refinement in delivery without dropping the musty stench emanating from the debut.
Whereas Unending Degradation had a looser feel, by contrast, Remnants of Expansion sounds equally beastly yet more controlled and tightly performed. “Arrow of Entropy” sets the album’s mood right from the outset across its ambitious 10 minute plus duration. Beginning the album in this fashion was a ballsy move and though I contest the song drags in points and drifts on too long, the sustained double bass barrage and growled from the depths of Hell vocals that follow the opening few minutes of funereal melodies works a treat. Krypts bread and butter remain their iron grip on atmosphere, unsettling dissonance, and heavy-as-a-sumo-wrestler-in-concrete-boots delivery. Doomy segments, strange harmonies, and mid-paced bludgeons define songs like “The Withering Titan” and closing wrecking ball “Transfixed” where Krypts play to their strengths with strong results. The blastier moments are less convincing overall and while offering a pleasing dynamic counterpoint, the muddied fury interjected into “Entrailed to the Breaking Wheel” smacks of intensity but also comes across as rather faceless and forgettable. There’s also a nagging similarity permeating the album, with most the songs following a familiar template; ominous, slow building doomy death giving way to lurching double bass backed surges and occasional interjections of blastbeats being the norm.
The problem I have with Krypts is though they write competent, extremely heavy and moderately enjoyable death metal, they lack that special, sometimes unidentifiable element to lift them into the sort of heavy rotation that other bands playing similar styles bring to the table. Nevertheless there’s still enjoyment to be had for fans of doomy, atmospheric death and I’m sure listeners out there will get a bigger kick out of this than myself. Some excellent riffs and ominous melodies feature from time to time, though not often enough for my liking, while songs like the aforementioned “Transfixed” show just how good Krypts can be when all the stars align and coalesce in a consistent fashion. Predictably Remnants of Expansion packs a mighty sonic wallop with a brutal low-end and ample heft. It’s also compressed and the faster parts are a little too muddied, but overall the production fits the sound well.
Krypts write quality doom infected death, steeped in foreboding atmosphere and executed with authority and menace. Yet to my ears Krypts don’t demand my undivided attention or keep me consistently engaged. Misgivings aside, Remnants of Expansion offers enough similarities and subtle progressions to please fans of their debut and those inclined towards Krypts imposing brand of Finnish brutality.