Friday, February 3, 2023

ACOD - Cryptic Curse EP (2023)

ACOD's Fourth Reign Over Opacities and Beyond really put the French band on the map for me last year, an exposition of black and death metal and melody unafraid to do serve its songs above else. Just a few months after that, the band has returned with a shorter release with but three tracks, presumably continuing their apocalyptic and apocryphal tirade, and that is precisely what Cryptic Curse does. As with the last release, this is semi-symphonic, massively produced black metal as a base, but not afraid to adopt more death metal riffing structures, growls, even little tints of thrash and Gothic metal to round it all out. You can bet that around every corner of the 5-6 minute tracks you're going to find some atmosphere, melody and so forth, and while it's rarely so catchy you'd die for it, the material is constantly engaging and larger than life.

It's hard to describe...say a midpoint between Italy's Stormlord and Greece's Septic Flesh, metal that won't fail to use any tools at its disposal to sound enormous. The keys and choir-tones take this to that otherworldly level of escape, and the guitars and drums are massive and busy without any need for pointless wanking and showing off. They don't always play fast, but usually even the more steady pieces like the title track are muscled up with some double kick drum and fills that add some momentum while it strides towards that speedier, ethereal bridge. In the end, this material is right on the level with the last album, and if you found yourself enjoying that, you shouldn't feel different here. I wouldn't say it hits quite the memorable moments you'll find there, but for a band that embraces such enormous studio standards and an all-encompassing sound, they certainly keep your attention for these 17 minutes. If you dig Septic Flesh, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, or that last Necromantia album it's worth hearing this and Fourth Reign.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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