Review: CRYPTEX “Once Upon A Time” [Steamhammer / SPV]

Review: CRYPTEX “Once Upon A Time” [Steamhammer / SPV]

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German melodic rockers Cryptex after five years returned with their new album “Once Upon a Time”. They decided not to reinvent the wheel, but preferred to release classic and melodic material. Despite the fact that Cryptex is often positioned as a progressive rock band, now they more and more move into the direction of hard rock and AOR.

Generally, the album is easy to listen, the music is neutral and laid-back, good choice for background listening. It’s not like the music is too catchy or memorable, but because of lightness and canonical manner to compose songs, it’s quite possible to discover that some melodies can be stuck in the head. Everything here is covered under the thick layer of melodiousness, even the heaviest songs are melodic. Despite the hard rock foundation, the keyboards add to general arrangements some progressive rock moments back from the 1970s (especially on the song “I Don’t Know Why”). But regardless, “Once Upon a Time” still sounds like contemporary record. Alas, the band lacks some original and refined progressive elements in order to break out from the genre.

The band members tried to diversify their music using proven methods, and these elements embellished this, a bit insipid record. The main accent is based on the guitar work, classical guitar riffs and not less classical primitive guitar solos as well, but the synthesizers add to the sound some lightness and emotionality. There is female voice on the song “Haunted”, but some jazzy mood (thanks to the saxophone) is presented on “Two Horned Crown”. And “Reptiles” is driven with rock’n’roll attitude.

The choruses are usually the most melodic part on this record, even with some influence from gospel style (choirs add some solemnity to the atmosphere). There is symphonic feeling throughout the album, but in a limited way to name Cryptex a symphonic progressive/hard rock band. The most epic songs are “Because the Reason is You” and “Body Language”. The voice of their singer Simon Moskon is nice and very common for heavy metal scene, and sometimes he uses more of his potential (especially when he sings the high parts or there is multi-layered vocal lines). His singing is precise and clear, as well as the sound of the record. “Once Upon a Time” isn’t a conceptual album, the lyrics are based on actual and eternal issues – love, struggles, pain, Cryptex didn’t intend to complicate their life with some philosophical or scientific matters in their lyrics.

What’s missing this time, however, are tearful and thoughtful ballads. The most fitting song for such a description is “I See It In Your Eyes”, the song is mostly accompanied by beautiful piano playing. And of course, there is a lack of originality and fresh ideas as well, but Cryptex deliberately chose to focus on the melodic classic direction, and they are pretty good in it.

Release date: May 8th, 2020

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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