Thursday, March 14, 2024

Cryptopsy - The Book of Suffering - Tome II EP (2018)

The 2010s were not a super busy period for Canada's Crytopsy, with just the decent s/t album in 2012 and this pair of Book of Suffering EPs which were self-releases that didn't stir up a ton of attention. With only four tracks to follow up Tome I's four, it didn't seem like the band was engaged in a lot of creativity. That's not to sell the material here short, because this EP possesses all the intensity and technicality you'd expect from one of the most brutal bands in the genre's history, and there are a few fresh ideas to round out the songwriting, but it's over in a flash, and so concussive that it can give you a headache or disappear amongst all the other output in this very style that has flooded a dozen or so labels these last two decades.

The band still leans heavily on Flo Mounier's almost inhuman, mechanical drumming, but Christian Donaldson's guitars are also a highlight, leveling out a myriad of riffs all over the fretboard, some more clinical and melodic ("Sire of Sin"), others just sort of driving along in rapid succession to the grooves and blasts, but either way you'll certainly be listening through the tracks numerous times to catch onto everything. Olivier Pinard's bass is also intimidating, as dizzying as the guitars, but also laying out some fat plunking moments like the breaks in "The Wretched Living" or just lines that feel appropriately complex if we were to isolate them from the rest of the mayhem. As for Matt's vocals, I still find them incredibly generic, he doesn't have the character of some of his predecessors, and all the gutturals and snarls do feel interchangeable with countless other acts in the genre. That said, he's not lacking in the actual energy and percussive nature of his delivery, and over the year he has certainly fit into the formula so that he's nowhere near a detriment.

Like a lot of technical/brutal death, there's a modular sense of construction which seems like pieces could be swapped between songs and nobody would know better, meaning it's quite consistent in execution but also a bit indistinct. They definitely try a little innovation, like the choppy little extreme Voivod bit in "Fear His Displeasure" or numerous other progressive sequences, but the nature of how harried and busy they write doesn't let you linger on any of the catchier, striking moments, instead barreling headfirst into another blasting clusterfuck. It's all very precise, don't get me wrong, it's not sloppy by any means, but they are in such a rush to dazzle that I just can't get too absorbed into anything. It's the nature of the sub-genre, perhaps, but I actually think Crytopsy would be stronger if they focused in on the more adventurous material, and just gave us the blasting when it really counted or when they could support it with a better quality riff. Tome II is calamitous, crazy and I'd say both superior to its predecessor, worth a few spins, and loyal to the Cryptopsy trajectory at large, but it often falls prey to its own short attention span.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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