CRYPTOPSY – The Unspoken King

In what is sure to be one of the more controversial releases in the metal underground this year, CRYPTOPSY first alarmed fans with their desire to recruit a frontman with clean vocal abilities to replace ousted/departed lead growler Lord Worm. Further distress was caused when the band sought out a full-time keyboardist. Leaked tracks for the new album surfaced, and the shitstorm began. Now that the dust has settled, how is The Unspoken King? Starting with the first three tracks, it’s business as usual, unconventional rhythms, shredding musicianship, blazing speeds, and a solid yet not particularly mind-blowing performance from new vocalist Matt McGachy. The highlight of the first three is “Silence the Tyrants” which mixes up over-the-top speed, subtle key touches from the now departed Maggie Durand, and a catchy grinding chorus. Then “Bemoan the Martyr” arrives, starting with an intro that sounds like a DEFTONES outtake. McGachy presents his best Mike Patton impersonation, offering a fourth rate rendition of the oft-plagiarized ex-FAITH NO MORE frontman. The song then explores some choppy, CANDIRIA-inspired riffs that quickly go nowhere fast. “The Plagued” follows up with probably the worst song on the album, as McGachy really hams it up on the vocals, delivering an outpouring of whiny emotion. The band tries to save the song with some technical heaviness, but McGachy‘s whiny vocals ruin any hopes of that. Trying to bring back the aggression the band comes storming back with the driving “Resurgence of an Empire” which features Durand‘s most prominent keyboard work, her orchestrations creating an almost EMPEROR-influenced feel to the song. “Anoint the Dead” delivers the death metal in spades, but the remainder of the album brings forth an inconsistent mishmash of some really great moments with some really, really bad ones. The most glaring offense being McGachy‘s tendency to whip out some really bad, whiny vocals at the worst possible times. “Leach,” for example, attacks with furious precision with even the slower sections offering some nice dynamic variation, but the unnecessary emo-ridden vocals appear like a fart in a car to ruin what would otherwise be a strong song. Contrary to belief, clean vocals and keyboards have been successfully used in death metal before as MORBID ANGEL has made a career of mixing such elements in their music with effective results. But in CRYPTOPSY‘s case, clean vocals seem to be placed throughout the album at random, with no real thought or point to their inclusion. On the plus side, the production on The Unspoken King is a vast improvement over the muddy sound quality of its predecessor Once Was Not. And as usual the musicianship is still light years ahead of the competition, especially Flo Mounier. He delivers a flawless performance of complex, innovative drum patterns that feature a drum clinic’s worth of chops and fills in each song. With the release of The Unspoken King, CRYPTOPSY has delivered their Cold Lake or Load but it’s a testament to their abilities that it’s still better than most of the paint-by-numbers myspace death metal out there. While I can appreciate the band’s attempt to push the envelope and attempt different ideas, Mounier and McGachy would be best served exploring their DEFTONES emo fixations in a side project instead of tarnishing the legacy of top quality death grind that CRYPTOPSY has delivered throughout their career. (Century Media Records)