Blasphemy Made Flesh(Invasion - 1995)
Since I heard this debut after None So Vile, I have no choice but to review it by comparing it to that frightening masterwork: The first thing is the production which is no way as good here, so some of the razor sharp playing isn't as dizzying and the music loses its roar and edge. But this is still a powerhouse. The songs seem somewhat less gripping as well, being much less chaotic and brutal in their composition and dynamics. This together with the usual lack of structure and buildups takes off quite a few points from this release in my eyes. Lord Worm vomits, grunts, coughs up a lung, gargles phlegm and his dynamic expression seems to be in somehow chewing on his growls and letting out the occasional shriek. I must say that this is a hell of a lot more interesting than the usual monotonous growls or grunts in this genre and he does this more than on None so Vile. There is even a pinch of melody on a couple of songs that brings early At the Gates to mind. But this is all relative and fans of None So Vile will place this similar but underdeveloped release just underneath that one on their cherished list.
None So Vile(Wrong Again - 1996)
This has been called the holy grail for deathgrinders and I agree. Whereas I usually dislike grindcore or boring 'brutal' bands such as early Cannibal Corpse, I actually cannot resist buying this album simply for its amazing technical precision and energy. A computer couldn't have been more precise. The drummer sounds like a cyber-hyper-flurry of aggression and exactness with a myriad of changes. Flo Mounier is not human and probably has an extra limb or two hidden under his clothes. The super fast guitars are in perfect sync and the fast bass is clear, groovy and thick as hell. Vocals are mostly a single-note, monotonous, low, grinding growl with some variations (e.g. a vicious, hysterical screech). The biggest problem I have with this style is with the song structures that are basically a salad of brutal riffs that hardly ever flow one into another as a structure (to my ears anyway, many will disagree). But as I said, this album simply has to be bought for its jaw-dropping acrobatics. I keep slitting open my senses over their razor-sharp precision. The guitar solos sound like a super-hyped up melody that make you feel like slamming into your walls in a fit of energy. All you deathgrinders should throw away those crappy Cannibal Corpse CDs and pick this one up instead.
Whisper Supremacy(Century Media - 1998)
With a promise to make things faster and more intense yet keep the impossibly high standards set by the previous album, these Canadian residents, that somehow pass off as human, set to work on their third release. This monster of a deathgrind album lives up to those promises and more. The production this time is fuller and well done, and while this gives the music a booming and full sound, the razor sharp precision of all the players is somewhat dulled this way - especially the guitars. But this is a minor point and the hyper technical precision is definitely still here and breathtaking. Most of the increased speed is not from playing faster, but from packing more music into each second. Different riffs, rhythms, time changes, and sudden dynamic changes slam right through you like a truck zooming at the speed of sound. There are no mindless blast beats here, everything is controlled, precise and contributing. With such intensely packed and frightening music, a lot of attention is necessary, and unless you are feeling completely awake and alert, the music will just seem chaotic. When you are run over by a train you don't have much time or frame of mind to notice the structure of the undercarriage and axles. One change and improvement since the previous album is the new superb vocalist, who growls in slightly varying keys instead of using a monotonous and extremely guttural growl. I do miss the occasional higher pitched, insane shrieks of the previous vocalist though. Of course one can't review a Cryptopsy album without praising Flo Mounier's drumming, which is as precise, dynamic, talented, insane and fascinating as always. The one problem I had with the previous albums and most of the brutal death scene is with the disjointed composition and the sandwiching of riffs without flowing and going somewhere. But as before, this album is impossible to resist for its technical wizardry, and they did actually work harder on the composition here, developing and intertwining themes in interesting as well as chaotic ways. So for all of you that have no problem with chaotic riff-oriented deathgrind music, this is a must buy and you should be embarrassed not to own it. For the rest of you, this is an extremely recommended and staggering work of brutal art.
And Then You'll Beg(Century Media - 2000)
How do you break down a chaotic riff or play chaotic variations on a theme? Cryptopsy shows us how. What happens when you combine and intertwine two chaotic riffing patterns? You get complicated chaos. Cryptopsy has crept up on us slowly with its unique artform and suddenly, with this release, I hear echoes of Slayer. What's the connection? Well if you recall, Slayer started out with the most extreme form of metal at the time and tried to push the envelope further, and two albums later they found themselves playing something new. Holocaust metal they said. Slayer metal others said. Death metal it became. Well Cryptopsy, to my ears, has now done the same. If I may try to coin a new term/genre, I will call this 'Technical Chaos' or simply, 'Chaos Metal' (catchier). So as you can imagine by now, this release is beyond deathgrind. It has punched through the borderlines to the unknown. Whether you like this extreme form of metal and whether Chaos Metal will catch on with the fans is a totally different issue however. As someone who has always looked for structure and flow in my metal, I have been suspiciously enamored with Cryptopsy considering that they are so chaotic. But they have convinced me that there is art in chaos, and even a pseudo-structure when it is done right. I will even opine that there is a fine line between technical chaos and pure chaos, the former being interesting and the latter being a lack of compositional skills. This album flirts uncomfortably with the latter. The technical skill of the members (especialy Flo on the drums) has always been prodigious and inhumanly precise, and this talent is what helps push their artform ahead. So if this becomes a new genre, the technical demand on budding Chaos Metal players will be higher than ever. But such is life in metal - we constantly raise the levels while MTV lowers them. Do I like this latest offering? I must say that I found Whisper Supremacy a much better example of this sound with its higher aggression levels and roaring sound rather than this focus on crazy progression. The blasting hyperactively stops and starts without warning and jerks awkwardly into something different, the riffs are largely uninteresting because they are mostly random notes and not much of interest is done with them, and the timing of the song keeps getting thrown off with all the spurts, bursts, and sudden radical changes. On Whisper Supremacy there were more things like variations on chaotic themes and consistent riffs with various accompaniments, as well as the occasional needed break from chaos and more care for the overall timing of the songs. In other words there was more involvement. On top of this, DiSalvo's vocals here are actually inappropriate. He growl-barks in hardcore style rather than using a pure roaring growl like on Whisper Supremacy. This major flaw together with the extremely difficult music makes this a so-so album and a risky experiment, but some tracks do grow on you so it's not hopeless. I'm dying to find out what Cryptopsy does next with Chaos though, and hopefully they won't let us get lost in it as on this album..