posted on 9/2012 By:
When I began work as Metal Director at WRUV in 2005, I was reintroducing myself to the genre I fell in love with, and had much ground to cover. Another girl named Jeneen was starting, and we both reviewed albums for a while. Because of the influx, I'd pay more attention to stuff she reviewed positively, so I immersed in 3 Inches of Blood early on, yet latched onto neither Cryptopsy nor Strapping Young Lad on first pass. (Hey, Neener — if you're reading this, remember when you called SYL "standard heavy metal"? That shit is hilarious!)
I've kept an eye on all those Canucks over the years. Dev kept me pretty happy across most projects; 3IOB has never let me down; Cryptopsy… well… not so much. When The Unspoken King dropped, I admittedly had little emotional investment in the band, and even though I found that album largely unremarkable, my first full in-review joke formed (so it's not all bad):
"Clean vox are to Cryptopsy what Jar-Jar Binks is to the Star Wars saga: out of place, a hindrance to the greater work, and worse for being included".
The band has never lost their Flo, but their hustle remains dubious. Don't get me wrong: Mr. Mounier feels truly tireless and, as the sole consistent member of Cryptopsy, he always seems to step it up in the performance department; man, that last minute of "Ominous" is pure devastation. But the vocals typically put me off. I like Lord Worm and all, especially as a lyricist, but was mostly floored by his apparent depravity over raw talent, something that felt lost on all who followed in his wake. DiSalvo lacked the spark to correctly color interesting albums like Whisper Supremacy, and while LaCroix did crawl toward Worm territory, he never hung around long enough for proper studio recordings.
So for reals, was anyone actually moved by Matt McGachy's previous performance? Yeah, I know he was irksome and all, but really, were you angry (…or inexplicably stoked)? I imagine old-school fans of the band would likely at this point have thrown up their hands and / or indifferently shrugged. However, much more was awry last time, and let it not go unspoken that the return of longtime guitarist Jon Levasseur is critical — much less so is the missing keyboardist chick who only stuck for a hot minute.
You wanna fucking quibble? Let's go: The real killer here is the loss of 15-year anchor in bassist Éric Langlois; he could positively punch through the maelstrom. Neuraxis fingerer Olivier Pinard is a good successor, but he often sounds like he's fighting to keep up. Though there are moments in this new album where he distinguishes — like about one minute into "Red-Skinned Scapegoat", or across opening barnburner "Two-Pound Torch". I'm anxious to see him perform live, because I bet the 22-year-old buck can hold his own.
Lyrically, I was back-and-forth on this eponymous release, sometimes literally. Both the first and third tracks have their protagonists die by hanging, albeit under totally different circumstances. In fact, the album plumbs the depths of their homeland's history — something all bands should explore. And since you really can't understand much of what McGachy is saying, it's worth delving into these tales of murder, betrayal, alien abduction, mythological creatures, and beyond. It's easy to venture that they are not only redefining Cryptopsy as a band, but also outlining origins and connecting back to their heritage; this is who they are.
Cryptopsy is still a bit bizarre (ahem: elevator music in a song that's kindasorta about draft dodgers), and finally finding its feet after stumbling around for a decade. While this may not be their best album, it's a vast improvement. Remember how Death Magnetic relatively sated after a long line of Metallica misfires? It feels like that. Shoot, maybe Cryptopsy can stay that course and on their next album take a nosedive with Leonard Cohen.
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The Unspoken King
Once Was Not
None So Live