Impressionistic appraisal: Cryptopsy’s Blasphemy Made Flesh
Mutant christ, loving christ
Know me with thine naked eyes
Holy christ, one tenth the size
So unlike the other christs
Feral, rabble-rousing extreme music that tries to create the violence of grindcore in a death metal mold, and whose simplicity in writing is overwhelmed by unheard-of levels of drumming stamina and a madman on vocals.
Impressionistic appraisal: Monstrosity’s Imperial Doom
The cover art of Imperial Doom resembles a final stage from the NES Contra video game of years past, but this album requires no theme or exposition to qualify itself as a form of Absolute Death Metal.
Analysis: Cryptopsy’s Blasphemy Made Flesh:
Blasphemy Made Flesh is music of short phrases, connected in progression to lead to the inevitable hardcore-styled breakdown. In this lie both its strengths and weaknesses. This writing style prevents songs from developing any kind of progressive, wide-angling perspective but, by the same token, this lack of nous allows Cryptopsy to concentrate incredible amounts of physical energy into their music, to date unrivaled in the death metal field.
Cryptopsy main guitarist Jon Levasseur, in addition to the bludgeoning beatdown of fast-moving power chord shapes, occasionally transposes a jagged, neoclassical melodicism on these short phrases, while the bass pings and twangs with regular alacrity, but both are carried along, almost despite themselves, by a tsunami of extreme drumming from Flo Mounier, a regular Neil Peart in fast-forward. Lord Worm’s indecipherable, random grunts and screams preside over the ruins; that the noises he emits represent some of the finest, funniest, dark poetry written in the genre exemplifies the Cryptopsy ethos: barely held together, bursting at the seams, stark raving mad yet possessing still of that sliver of intelligence which was the cause of said madness in the first place.
Analysis: Monstrosity’s Imperial Doom:
How does a Lee Harrison or a Steve Asheim write a death metal song? Being drummers first and foremost (though Harrison is perfectly capable of playing guitars at a high level), does their input end with the setting up of a song’s rhythmic substructure, or do they have vital say in the shape and form of the riffs that are created on top of their drumming? It’s probably the latter, but I would think drummer-songwriters have more than a simple Yes/No mandate in how their songs sound.
Regardless of such musings, Imperial Doom is an album that leaves nothing to the imagination. The influence of Slayer looms large over these songs; the flowing tremolo lines of Hell Awaits, the choppier stylings of Reign In Blood, and the dark, inverted atmosphere of South Of Heaven, all find home on Imperial Doom at one time or another. How Monstrosity take this formative DNA of the genre, and blow it up from the inside out, without sounding as obvious as, say, Vader, makes for an interesting case study by itself, and perhaps focuses even greater attention on the role of a drummer-songwriter like Harrison. Guitars, in this case, are forced to follow the lead of the drummer’s vision which makes for a peculiarly momentum-gathering, turn-on-a-dime, cataract-like listening experience. At the risk of repetition, Imperial Doom is a great example of the will to motion in death metal so often mentioned on this blog.
Cryptopsy invented a novel take on a genre slipping into a premature dotage. Blasphemy Made Flesh is a physical, confrontational album, but also somewhat gratuitous when one takes honest stock of its qualities. Imperial Doom may not be the finest death metal album ever made; its lack of variety in expression disqualifies it from such heady titles, but by redirecting the energy and technique of its ancestors into a death metal of heightened awareness at the interstitial level, it comfortably triumphs over Blasphemy Made Flesh.
Monstrosity go through.