Review: Cryptopsy “As Gomorrah Burns” [Nuclear Blast]

Review: Cryptopsy “As Gomorrah Burns” [Nuclear Blast]

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The year 2023 was significant for techno death world, as the legendary Canadian deathsters Cryptopsy released their eighth studio album As Gomorrah Burns (joining forces with mighty Nuclear Blast Records), eagerly awaited by fans for a full 11 years! Although they had spoiled us with the double EP “The Book of Suffering” during this time, fans were yearning for a full-fledged release, meticulously crafted and polished to a sterile sheen. So As Gomorrah Burns not only reminded us of the existence of these legendary icons but also proved that a creative crisis was not the reason for this long hiatus.

Cryptopsy has been around for 32 years, and if you count their musical journey under their former names Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Necrosis, you can add another four years, so their status as respected veterans is earned not only through quality but also through a long history. They were among the first to establish themselves as a promising technical death metal band representing Canada (alongside Gorguts and Obliveon), adding extra brutality to their music. In short, Cryptopsy‘s opinion on the techno-death scene must be respected, even though they have occasionally strayed from their chosen path. Some consider their flirtations with deathcore as a loss of originality and contamination by the mainstream (especially notable on the controversial album “The Unspoken King”), while others saw these experiments as an innovative approach that only enriched their music. They caused quite a stir back then and eventually released a self-titled album, stylistically and spiritually similar to their early works, much to the delight of conservative fans.

This time it’s not so simple; “As Gomorrah Burns” continues to refine their chosen direction, periodically incorporating deathcore elements subtly, without overwhelming the music with modern influences, yet noticeably enough not to ignore this fact. It’s impossible to please everyone: some will complain about the static nature, claiming the band isn’t evolving and always plays the same thing, while others will scoff at any hint of straying from their usual style. But despite all these debates between conservatives vs. experimenters, one thing is indisputable – Cryptopsy not only offers the highest quality music, but they also know how to write it. Their music, their ideas, and their vision are highly recognizable and full of hit potential, despite often complex song structures, an abundance of musical patterns, and chaotic elements. Sometimes it’s hard to take in all this mix, but surprisingly, these Canadian legends do not forget about melody. Brutal and melodic death metal is a rather complicated concept; one must keenly feel this balance between melody and brutality. So it’s not surprising that Cryptopsy still sit on the invisible throne of techdeath.

These Canadian brutal guys aren’t particularly fond of digressions, epic inserts, or melancholic passages; they prefer to hit hard and with full force, slowing down only for contrast and psychedelic accents. The album is filled with aggression, straightforward drive, and dynamic vitality, occasionally interrupted by whirlwinds of melody and sometimes dragging into labyrinths of chaos. This clash between forces of darkness and light (melody vs. chaos) is especially evident in the atmospheric track “Flayed the Swine.” “Godless Deceiver” goes even further, adding a touch of sentimentality from the guitar solos, providing a brief respite from the wall of dissonant sounds, forming structured and well-crafted compositions. “Ill Ender” and “Praise the Filth” most strongly hint at their past flirtations with deathcore, but in moderation, not fully revealing their modern views. “Praise the Filth” is the most diverse song on the album, with all its lightning-fast accelerations and contemplative slowdowns. The low frequencies combined with the rapid pounding of the incomparable drummer Flo Mounier remind us that besides the progressive part, there is also the brutal part, so the aesthetic refinement here is more in the background, without all the jazz arrangements and incorporations of unconventional styles. And often the riffs sound primitive and catchy under the guise of technical perfection.

It’s no wonder this album is associated with something complex, exalted, and multifaceted, as musically it is filled with diverse layers, while in terms of lyrics, Cryptopsy prefers themes beloved by traditional brutal death and grindcore musicians. So there will be no existential crisis or transcendental journeys this time; “As Gomorrah Burns” focuses on social issues – childhood traumas, addiction to new technologies, and family brawls. Instead of astral revelations and delving into the darkest depths of one’s subconscious, we get stories about someone killing their girlfriend or planning revenge on an abuser for bullying at school. The same contradictions apply to the cover art – a biblical plot of antiquity in a modern wrapping and medieval spirit, painted in muted tones, once again showcases their ability to balance between polarities. The beauty of ugliness, grotesque vs. aesthetics, or just another creation by Cryptopsy. Well, in that case, let Gomorrah burn, if the soundtrack to its destruction is “As Gomorrah Burns.”

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