Friday, March 15, 2024

Cryptopsy - As Gomorrah Burns (2023)

Crytopsy's drummer Flo Mounier is the same age as I am, but while I'm waking up with the aches of pains that grind deeper with every year of Middle Age, the guy sounds like he's jacked into some cybernetic shit, the living embodiment of his drum kit that makes every blast beat, double bass roll and tempo change as effortless as the input of a single key on a keyboard. Like brutal death metal is some binary language in his genetic code that automatically enables his hands and feet. The fact that the rest of his band isn't left behind his capability is a testament to how well they lock together, and due to this consistency and intensity, As Gomorrah Burns is the best album the band has put out during the McGachy-fronted era, trouncing the competent s/t from the previous decade, and the ensuing EPs, though not by a necessarily large margin.

The caveat is that this is the same, frenzied, modern tech/brutal death Crytopsy that they arguably always were, but had kind of faded into the background after a thousand other bands caught up with their skills and energy. It's a vortex of blasting death metal rhythms that alternate with thrashier, choppy outbreaks for pure neck-jerking, and rarely gets any slower than that. It's highly mechanistic sounding, and feels just like a lot of other works in the genre where individual tracks can lack the distinction of classic DM tunes. That said, they do keep some of those progressive, melodic breaks that were developed across the last EPs, and there are some formidable leads in between the grooving and thrusting, where the listener can get a little more atmosphere, something much of the brickwork brutality is lacking. The Mounier/Donaldson/Pinard trifecta is a virtual storm of limbs that never tires, and while McGachy's vocals still aren't as unique as a Lord Worm, he's well literate in this style and offers enough flexibility and professionalism that I'd consider this his best performance to date with the band; though he still clearly lacks the status of legendary growlers and snarlers you could pick out of a lineup.

As Gomorrah Burns gets better the more the band sticks its neck out for new ideas, like the flighty little melodic noodling that opens "Flayed the Swine" or the the dissonant thundering that "Obeisant" works up to. In fact, I'd love to hear the band just stretch even further into making the most weird and progressive BDM they can, though maybe not as loose and weird as something like Once Was Not or the lamentable And Then You'll Beg. But there is just so much latent musical potential here to explore even more psychotic vistas of extremity than what we're hearing. That's not to take away from this particular album, which has plenty of 'oh shit!' moments and is enjoyable whenever I'm in the mood for this style, but I still think there's room for more interesting songwriting, even if they take more breathers and don't feel the need to dizzy and impress us all the time. Wishful thinking aside, though, there's no reason the audience of brutal tech/death finesse would find much lacking in this 33-minute exercise in extremity, chalk full of the Canadians' patented weaponry.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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