by MythofRock

When a beast like Cryptopsy returns, many heads turn. More than a decade without an album was too long, and when you think about the years that passed, your mind subconsciously flies to the days when the beast leaped out for the first time from its lair. Boulders of technical brutality like “Blasphemy Made Flesh” and “None So Vile” are almost impossible to recur, and their significance to the evolution of death metal goes beyond written comments. Lord Worm’s abyssal gurgles or Fergusson’s insane basslines defined how brutality and technicality cooperate to form sickness and chaos, when a whole genre was starting its blasphemous journey.

In subsequent years, Cryptopsy, like many traditional death acts, engaged in mediocrities and experimentations with modern elements, deviating from their original sound. Some of these steps were frowned upon, like the deathcore orientation of “The Unspoken King” (that album wasn’t Cryptopsy!). Levasseur’s quitting some years ago was determinant for the band’s disillusionment, but his return for one album only (2012’s “Cryptopsy”) was enough to set the “train” back on its tracks.

Their self-titled album, and mainly the first two EPs from the “The Book of Suffering” series that followed (which are real seminars of technical death), showed that Cryptopsy have returned to their prior style, thus relieving many fans who didn’t like the band’s whereabouts in core territories. “As Gomorrah Burns” steps on the ground of these releases, proving that Cryptopsy and drummer Flo Mounier (the only remaining member from the early days) have decided to engage in where their expertise lies.

In this new endeavor, you won’t hear something new since Cryptopsy revisit elements that they themselves created, bringing them to the present under Nuclear Blast’s modern production. “As Gommorah Burns” thrives with technicalities that are abundant in the band’s discography, although the preceding EPs were more technically demanding. Donaldson’s fiery, Cryptosian riffing is splendid, based on Levasseur’s legacy, and the rhythm section could be every band’s secret wish. Indeed, Mounier’s technique stands out easily, being not only ferocious (everyone can unleash a respectable quantity of blasts), but also meaningful and insightful.

You’ll surely take pleasure in all the members’ way of playing and rambling compositions, which, despite their complexity, don’t discourage you from delving into their themes (pay attention to the excellent “Lascivious Undivine”). Grooves play a considerable role in enriching ideas (“In Abeyance”), particularly when they’re most crushing. In this respect, a lavish composition like “Ill Elder” reveals all the truth in this album, where just a breakdown, heavy as an archaic menhir, suffices to add some tones of weight. Other notable moments occur in frantic rhythms (“Godless Deceiver”, “Flayed the Swine”) that verify the band’s recovery, while some notions of melodicism attempt to rest the ears that have been hammered, but only temporarily.

All these make me think that the current line-up can safely drive Cryptopsy’s vehicle in the present and (why not?) in the future. Even McGachy, having spent fifteen years with them already, has adapted his vocal style properly to the band’s requirements. Certainly, his growls are compatible with, and intensify further, the Cryptosian savage atmosphere.

The grandiose ending with the malicious and horrific “Praise the Filth” shows that Cryptopsy worked thoroughly on structures that engage you with demonic riffage, transitions, and a sense of decay and desperation. Indeed, the whole album reeks of Cryptopsy’s decayed atmosphere. The rather polished production makes everything clear, which is important for an album of this kind, but concurrently deprives us of further filth that this given stuff could offer. But long-lived bands cannot recreate the atmosphere of their earlier albums, and even when they do, they’re often accused of copying themselves…

“As Gomorrah Burns” is a successful return for the Canadians, offering what a demanding listener seeks from such technical stuff. Of course, its value is related to its timing, occurring at a time when the band needed it most after a decade without an LP. It’s a decisive, dynamic comeback, without unexpected wanderings, that positions Cryptopsy again at the epicenter of the genre, where they belong.

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis





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