Fuzz is one of the earliest forms of artificially created distortion to be used on the guitar. Over the years the sound has changed drastically in many ways, including its uses. Early on it was made popular by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and countless others. But somewhere down the line, it became much more than that. It became a distinctive sound. A word that could describe a music down to at on its own. It became a way of life. On Valentine’s day 2020, Italian doom troupe, Suum, revealed to the world their monument to that sound. And a more fitting love letter never did exist.
On Cryptomass, Suum deliver an album that is simply dripping in fuzz. Present on close to every riff, it is thankfully utilized in such a way that is not harmful to the ears, a trait that has become more and more popular over the years. But here, Suum utilizes the expressiveness of the sound. Their music comes across as a great storm cloud brewing upon the horizon, threatening to bring about the end times. The fuzz elevates the sound beyond anything tangible and into a thick heavy atmosphere. A density that simply feels dangerous, a tingling sense that a lightning strike could be around any corner.
Cryptomass incorporates this sound into the tried and true formula of Doom metal, taking their cues heavily from Ozzy Osbourne era Black Sabbath. The slow, dirge like songs travel along at a pace that matches this thickness perfectly, creating an ominous effect. A sense of danger, but not immediate danger. Something you can watch slowly approach, knowing each day that it is coming, but having nothing to do to stop it. A foreboding sense of despair that holds the listener interested throughout the album’s run time.
It’s such a wonderful take on such a classic sound. It is very unfortunate then that the vocal delivery present across this entire album is just awful. I can see where some people will disagree, finding the beauty in these operatic wails, but I am not those people. The mournful cries drone on with too long notes and occupy entirely too much of the tracks run times. They bore me, and frankly, I think these vocals ruin the album.
The rest of the band plays on well beyond adequately. The dirges are expertly pulled off with fuzz drenched guitars and a subtle flaring bass guitar that takes the spotlight anytime it can. The drum sound is spot on to the recording styles of those early Sabbath albums, and impressively played throughout. The drowning sense of dread is from time to time broken by amazingly beautiful bluesy guitar solos. These solos weep and cry, seemingly for their fate to appear here, on what is essentially a wasted album.
The inclusion of this vocal performance in this amazingly heavy piece of music is one of the great tragedies of our time. To create such atmospheres with simply guitars and drums playing riffs and beats and not resorting to delay and reverb drenched ambient interludes is astonishingly I’m pressive. It’s just too bad, that I can’t look past the vocal delivery. It could have been perfect, but perhaps that is what we are mourning here.
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