By: Daniel Jackson (Review One) &
Richard Maw (Review Two)
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 30/10/2015
Every song sees Cryptopsy firing on all cylinders, including Matt McGachy, who seems to be channeling his inner Mike DiSalvo at certain points through the album, resulting in his best performance to date. With this EP, Cryptopy finds themselves as a band every bit as good as they were at their best. For a band that just recently passed the twenty year anniversary of their debut, that’s no small accomplishment. Cryptopsy are one of the finest exponents of “extreme” on the face of the planet and dammit, I know real metal when I hear it. This is as real and as extreme as it gets. Hail.
‘The Book of Suffering - Tome 1’ CD//DD track listing:
1. Detritus (The One They Kept)
2. The Knife, The Head and What Remains
3. Halothane Glow
4. Framed by Blood
Flo Mounier | Drums/Vocals
Chris Donaldson | Guitar
Matt McGachy | Lead Vocals
Olivier Pinard | Bass Guitar
It wasn’t all that long ago that people were starting to write Cryptopsy off, after 2008’s ‘The Unspoken King’, an album that a substantial part of the band’s fanbase rejected. It’s hard to argue that the kinds of different ideas implemented on the album, Matt McGachy’s melodic singing in particular, were bound to have that effect. Pairing the abrupt vocal change with some musical choices that were almost certain to put the orthodox part of their audience in a bad mood as well, and sadly you had an album that was something of a disaster.
There are plenty of bands that have bounced back after a bad experience with an album. Cryptopsy themselves came back with a strong follow up with their self-titled album in 2012. While the album certainly made a lot of progress towards righting the ship, as far as death metal purists are concerned, there was still something missing compared to their classic 90s material.
‘Book of Suffering - Tome 1’ sees the band reaching that same kind of peak again. The four songs that make up the EP are their best in seventeen years. In fact, the album most closely resembles their last truly great album, ‘Whisper Supremacy’, of any of their previous work. It has that familiar mix of violent chaos and tasteful, melodic death metal, which made ‘Whisper Supremacy’ a landmark album for death metal in the late 90s. ‘Book of Suffering - Tome 1’ is the work of a band inspired to be as good or better than they’ve ever been, and it shows.
One of the benefits of the EP format is that there’s less chance of a song being a clear weak link in the chain, and ‘Book of Suffering’ is an excellent example of why the format can be a great advantage. Every song sees Cryptopsy firing on all cylinders, including Matt McGachy, who seems to be channeling his inner Mike DiSalvo at certain points through the album, resulting in his best performance to date. With this EP, Cryptopy finds themselves as a band every bit as good as they were at their best. For a band that just recently passed the twenty year anniversary of their debut, that’s no small accomplishment.
Cryptopsy is a well known name in the death metal world and they deliver an EP here which is almost impossibly extreme at times. The band has been around for a long time, you could forgive them for mellowing out, slowing down or even... giving the vaguest nod to commercialism. Instead, there are many changes. There are many blast beats. The sound is punchy, digital and captures every snare beat, every bass pop and every growl and scream. The production really is crystal clear and the mix is stellar. The material is extremely aggressive, with opener “Detritus (The One They Kept)” straying into grind territory in its approach and level of aggression.
“The Knife, The Head and What Remains” is prime time Cryptopsy and is as visceral an example of modern death metal as you could find anywhere. The band play with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, so dynamics are off the table. This is about speed and aggression, plain and simple. “Halothane Glow” is barbarically extreme with some blasting sections being a maelstrom of metallic fury.
It would be fair to say that to most people, Cryptopsy would be unlistenable. The material is so dense and so lacking in hooks or even repetition that most listeners simply would not fathom it. We live in a world where most of the masses cannot conceive of a band more extreme than the material played by Metallica in the 1980s (if they have ever heard real metal at all). The likes of Cryptopsy,
Nile or black metal like Marduk would be simply “noise” to most. Doom at least has recognisable patterns, time feels and riffs. Death metal, for me, stands alone as the most extreme form of metal there is. And Cryptopsy are one of the finest exponents of “extreme” on the face of the planet.
This nasty little four track EP finishes with “Framed By Blood”. I honestly have not made out a single lyric over the course of these four tracks but, dammit, I know real metal when I hear it. This is as real and as extreme as it gets. Hail.