Review: Cryptic Tales “Anathema” [Carnage Records]

Review: Cryptic Tales “Anathema” [Carnage Records]

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Score 85%
Majestic death threat
85 %
User Rating : 0 (0 votes)

Poland isn’t a country that I usually think of whenever old school death metal comes to mind, but it wouldn’t take long before a variety of bands would put Poland on the death metal map. Granted, Poland’s biggest names aren’t exactly my thing, but I have stumbled upon several interesting bands that, although they may have been forgotten, are certainly worth exposing yourself to.

Take Cryptic Tales, for instance. At this point, the band borrowed heavily from early Entombed. With gripping guitars that nod towards Left Hand Path and Clandestine, they’re the most notable referential band that comes to mind, even if these songs themselves are anything but Entombed worship material (we’re not exactly dealing with Goddefied). Leads range from rapid-fire shredding to colorful melodic sections that appear whenever a song calls for it and elastic drums create an interesting rhythmic core; not to mention that they even include a few d-beats here and there. Vocals roar with a monstrous quality to them; think of a deeper John Tardy and you’re halfway there. Cryptic Tales take things even further by incorporating some secret weapons that are unheard of. Think of a contrabass that haunts like an apparition in the night, heroic keys that add a fair amount of light in contrast to the record’s shade and even several acoustic riffs that introduce or finish a composition.

Cryptic Tales are clearly confident about taking death metal in a direction that you wouldn’t expect bands to and it’s clear right from the start. After a creepy contrabass riff, the title track blows the roofs off with a terrorizing main riff that Entombed could have only dreamed off, before undergoing a journey of dirty down-tuned guitar grooves that dance around the contrabass, enchanting synths, acoustic fragments and gritty riffs that ascend towards the gloomy skies of obscurity. I also like that Cryptic Tales aren’t afraid to take their time with the amount of introductions, interludes and final sections. Listen to that ethereal build-up that ‘Putrid Mutants’ has in store before the track turns into an elaborated assault on all your senses; it’s much more enjoyable to hear than your ordinary synth-driven introduction whatsoever. Basically, I get the idea that Cryptic Tales had spent their time writing tunes in a gothic cathedral before entering the studio; think more of Anathema as an atmospheric horror movie rather than a fast-paced slasher flick.

One may expect the non-metallic sections to become an issue at one point, but strangely enough, the heavier parts aren’t always as superb as they should – or perhaps better said, aren’t necessarily properly connected to each other. The excellently titled ‘In Grave is Rotting Slowly’ isn’t short on riffs by any means, but it does become a tad too puzzling for its own good with its unusual changes in direction. ‘Voices of the Beast’ is another track that causes some confusion to a certain degree. Its moments of glory include the damnation wave of an intro riff, the doom/death metal sequence that foreshadows the band’s next phase and I also love Bolt Thrower-inspired moment of chaos that finishes things off with. On the flip side, the track features a sluggish riff collection that you’ll encounter early in the track and it’s as exciting as watching a frail person crawling slowly through the mud.

Fortunately, there are no fillers in sight and even when the band simply goes for the kill in a straightforward manner, things turn out well. ‘Live in Vinnless’ features a certain amount of detailed guitar textures that range from colorful melodic riffs (not to be confused with sweet riffs made in Gothenburg) to Bolt Thrower-driven grooves and even the track’s most flexible riff scenarios are more comparable to Soulside Journey than to anything else. Why Anathema remains as obscure as it is, I’m not exactly sure of, but I’m sure that the early death metal fan will definitely enjoy this demo a lot. I certainly do and while I may not be in the mood for this ravaging, yet elaborated take on death metal all the time, it’s always rewarding once I’m in the mood for it.

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