Review Summary: Rapes the ears
Cryptopsy were born under the name Necrosis in 1988 created by three metal enthusiasts in Montreal, only one of which performs on this album (Vocalist, Lord Worm). They were originally a linear and straightforward Death metal act, but towards the end of their period as Necrosis, they started to mix things up. Inhuman drummer Flo Mournier joined the band and in late 1992 renamed themselves “Cryptopsy”. A demo was released in 1993, then their first full length in 1993, Blasphemy Made Flesh. Subsequently guitarist Jon Levasseur and bassist Eric Langlois became part of the ensemble. This was Cryptopsy in its embryonic stage, with only occasional flashes of brilliance that make this album so unique and reputable. Then in 1996 they recorded what is widely considered the Magnum Opus of the band, None So Vile.
Firstly, the riffs on this album are not in any way melodious. As a matter of fact, they are almost completely atonal and free from the confinements of popular music. Most of the songs are played at an extremely high speed with numerous solos and a great deal of musicianship. They are highly technical, and a first time listener would find it all blending into a monotonous blur of noise after the first 30 seconds of “Crown of Horns”. But that is the true beauty of this album; it defies what most people would consider a conventional song and replaces it with sheer chaos. But once your ears get used to this chaos, this is where things get interesting. The underlying melody in each of the songs starts revealing itself and the songs start becoming memorable in a way. It is in no way unusual to growl along to vocalist Lord Worm introducing his blade Tuesday on "Slit Your Guts". The vocals themselves are like next door’s dog triumphantly guarding the rotting meat that was given to it by its masters. They are completely devoid of emotion, and any convention regarding pitch or tone or anything relating to actual singing. They take a while to fully appreciate and are not for the faint of heart. Worm’s vocal performance can at times be truly bewildering; how he does it without any assistance from a pitch shifter or some kind of alteration to his voice perplexes me. An example of this is the long, demonic growl he pulls off near the conclusion of “Benedictine Convulsions”.
The drumming on this album, while not as accomplished as Mournier’s later work, still sounds like an octopus pounding against two drum sets simultaneously. The fact he can pull it off live makes it all the more impressive. On songs like “Crown of Horns”, and “Orgiastic Disembowelment”, he makes Neil Peart seem like Meg White for sheer speed and accuracy. This is certainly one of the highlights of the album.
Last, but certainly not least is the bassist. The bassist is usually the forgotten member of the band, but Eric Langlois more or less the secret weapon of Cryptopsy. His slapping during “Slit Your Guts” is what makes the song distinctive and one of the more famous songs in the band’s catalogue. The album wouldn’t have their huge, thunderous and brutal sound if it wasn’t for Langlois.
Now to the actual songs. Probably the best song, but also the hardest to get into (bar “Lichmistress”) is Benedictine Convulsions. It shows all of the band members in full force, with technical and convoluted guitar riffs, jackhammer drumming, funky bass lines, and of course the instantly recognizable bark of Lord Worm. “Slit Your Guts”, “Phobophile” and “Crown of Horns” aren’t far behind in terms of enjoyment either. I must also highlight the piano intro at the start of “Phobophile”. It has been mentioned many times in other reviews that it is almost cliché, but it serves its purpose effectively of breaking the flow, and even fools the listener into a false sense of security with that ominous bass line.
There are weaknesses though. In my opinion, Lichmistress is just a conventional technical death metal song. Sure it is fast, brutal, uniquely Cryptopsy, but it is just missing that underlying musicality and the aspect that just makes you want to gyrate your head with each pound of the drum. At only 2:31, it is the “Dawn Patrol” of None so Vile. There is also the fact that new listeners will be put off by the completely indecipherable grunts and barks of Lord Worm. But this could be thought of as a highlight. It certainly was for me.
This album is heralded as a classic in the Death Metal genre, and for good reason. It mixes infinite brutality with musicality in the form of funky bass lines and Piano interludes. It deserves its classic status, but is deprived of the absolute masterpiece status due to “Lichmistress” bringing nothing new to the album that we hadn’t heard in “Crown of Horns”, or “Phobophile”. That said, it still deserves an easy 5/5.