It's been a long-standing contention of mine that bands that self-title their new record late in a career are making a statement and making it bold, the collective in question so confident in its latest work that the album can only be styled with the group's name. So, if the logical sequence plays out and you ask whether CRYPTOPSY's latest merits its title, let's cut straight to the chase and answer, resoundingly, yes, that Cryptopsy is the record the band's legion of tech freaks has been waiting for since 2000's And Then You'll Beg. Whatever missteps Cryptopsy has made in the intervening 12 years (and there have been a well-publicized glut of them), this new record makes up for. Immensely. 2012 is quickly becoming a banner year for extreme metal, and if the 2012 competition wasn't as fierce as it is, one could surely call Cryptopsy the record of the year without any hesitation, even if we have yet to reach metal's beloved autumn. Playing the middle child to Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile, Cryptopsy is amongst the finest work of the band's storied career, Flo Mounier and newly rejoined guitar player Jon Levasseur the proprietors of an LP that will, if there's any justice, be one day spoken about with the same type of profound lore that so eminently and justly surrounds Cryptopsy's early catalogue. What becomes clear as Cryptopsy spins is that the key to this record isn't just in its unflinching demeanor that screams (and growls) "I will not be intimidated. By anyone." While that element is certainly appreciated, it is Cryptopsy's flowing listenability that is also to be commended, this record speeding in the fast lane and opting for maximum desecration, all the while communicating tracks that, unbelievably, are memorable to the point of almost being hummable. It's impossible to isolate highlights, so let's engage in the type of track-by-track breakdown that is reserved for only the primest cuts at steakhouses (which is said with much tofu-soaked irony by this long-time vegetarian):
'Two Pound Torch' - Beginning the record with the venom and rage of old, 'Two Pound Torch' is what classic Cryptopsy would have sounded like in 1997 had mid-'90s studio technology actually been in the vicinity of where Cryptopsy's headspace was so blindingly spinning. A genuine salutation to the band's storied past and yet a steadfast and steely-eyed view to a suddenly far more welcoming future for Cryptopsy, 'Two Pound Torch' is everything that record openers should be: it's that confident first handshake at a job interview that creates the bold intangibles that land you the gig. And the benefits.
'Shag Harbour's Visitors' - A firm and unyielding statement to every tech band that has stolen from Cryptopsy's arsenal and catalogue over the last decade, 'Shag Harbour's Visitors' has but one message to those redundant, high speed dubbing copies-of-a-copy: step off our territory, son. Now.
'Red-Skinned Scapegoat' - Vicious blastbeats begin this track and they create the type of blizzard of an impression that can only be described by that old 'Northern Hyperblast' descriptor we used such a long, long time ago. Tasteful and effective soloing greets the track's mid-section, artfully displaying listenability and flow until several cheeky jazz moments come and steal the show, a wink of the eye no doubt going out to the guy in the front row. But the jazz doesn't last for long, as a two pound torch quickly, and maliciously, makes sure the jazz parts become blazes in the northern sky but quick.
'Damned Draft Dodgers' - As the album reaches the half-way mark, record-of-the-year? thoughts swerve, slowly, around the brain. And then the blasts once again begin. And thinking just stops.
'Amputated Enigma' - Anchored by a main riff that is reminiscent of Blasphemy Made Flesh, 'Amputated Enigma' should be an Olympic sport unto itself, this type of inhuman stamina and precision worthy of Michael Phelps-esque adulation. Gold, Silver and Bronze (whisper) supremacy... it all goes to Cryptopsy,
'The Golden Square Mile' - Though named after the famed area of downtown Montreal that features the five-star Ritz Carlton along with upscale boutiques and art galleries, the song instead deals with an unsolved murder that took place in that locale rather than any swanky chicanery. If sublime Montreal venue Le Medley was still around instead of being replaced by high-rise condos, 'The Golden Square Mile' would be its anthem, this track representing the apex of the classic '90s Quebec scene that saw Cryptopsy, KATAKLYSM, GORGUTS, MARTYR and OBLIVEON first reach international acclaim on the path initially ventured out into, and tread on, by the metal architect that is VOIVOD. In only the best of Canadian French, let's call this song an "osti d'malade."
'Ominous' - Opened by titanic blasts and a tough-as-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve bassline,'Ominous' fully merits its title, the song ensuring that, even at track seven, the beatings continue unabated. And just when you think the song has given its all as it slows down towards its conclusion, Cryptopsy ends it off with the blasts that began the track.
'Cleansing The Hosts' - Eight songs is the perfect length for this process of benedictine convulsion and, as 'Cleansing The Hosts' ends the record, Cryptopsy leaves the party with its head held high and without over-staying its welcome. All that's now left to ponder is whether this album is actually better than the first two, or whether nostalgia is going to substantially blur and fog up any type of objectivity.
So, welcome back, Cryptopsy: call us fully and completely impressed as we re-evaluate the band’s now very much alive legacy. Cryptopsy is, once again, amongst the leaders in the exalted and exacting Montreal and Canadian scenes, and there is nothing more vile than that.
BraveWords.com review 9.5/10