Review Summary: A flawed take on deathcore, but a solid album in its own right.
What can be said about The Unspoken King
that hasn’t been said already? It’s a classic death metal band’s attempt at deathcore – an absolutely terrible concept on paper. Those who have heard None So Vile
would cringe at the thought that the same band would use clean vocals and chugga-chugga breakdowns at some point in the future. Oddly enough, though, Cryptopsy make it work… for the most part. This is an extremely flawed album, there’s no denying that, but ignoring the band name and going in with little to no expectations, The Unspoken King
simply is a solid yet flawed, technically impressive metalcore album.
The band line-up has changed almost consistently on Cryptopsy's preceding albums. The Unspoken King
's line up in particular caused the most controversy among death metal fans because of the addition of a keyboardist – something that sounds sacrilegious for a pioneer of barebones balls-out brutal death metal band like Cryptopsy. Thankfully, the use of keyboards is sparse on the album, seldom used to add atmosphere in suitable segments. The few moments in which they shine, such as in 'Silence the Tyrants' and 'Contemplate Regicide', they provide a layer of depth to enhance the buildups and payoffs. Like Cryptopsy’s previous releases, At its core, the greatest moments on The Unspoken King
are all about the riffs, and for the most part, guitarists Alex Auburn and Christian Donaldson deliver the goods.
The riffs aren’t nearly as technical as their technical death-era releases – most of the technicality has been swapped for melody and mood. However, there more than a few moments of guitar wizardry, notably the tapping in 'Worship Your Demons' and the solo in 'Contemplate Regicide'. 'Silence the Tyrants', one of the album's strongest tracks, has a number of excellent ideas throughout. It's also one of the few tracks where the keyboards complement the song, giving the bridge a bleak atmosphere, not unlike that of the album cover. Despite the abundance of catchy new-school riffs, bits and pieces of old Cryptopsy occasionally shine through. Tracks like 'Leach', 'Bound Dead', and 'The Plagued' feature riffs that would fit right in on Whisper Supremacy
; they even go so far as to quote a part of 'Phobophile' to remind us that they haven't completely discarded their roots.
While The Unspoken King
is very tight instrumentally, vocally is where the album falls flat. Matt McGachy isn’t a bad vocalist by any means, but his style simply doesn't gel with the rest of the band. His growls sound similar to Tommy Rogers’ on Between the Buried and Me’s self-titled album, and his cleans have an ubiquitously awful tone. Speaking of cleans, some sung passages on this album are nearly vomit-inducing. The bridge of 'Bound Dead' has cringe-worthy nu-metal-esque vocals, sections of 'Resurgence of an Empire' are difficult to listen to because of the poor use of melody, and the intro of 'The Plagued' made me question whether or not I wanted to listen to music anymore. Be that as it may, not all uses of clean vocals on The Unspoken King
are bad. In fact, they fit quite well on songs like 'Leach' and 'Contemplate Regicide' to a lesser extent, but overall the album would’ve been much better off without them.
The biggest fault in The Unspoken King
is the failed abortion of a song known as 'Bemoan the Martyr'. Putting it lightly, it's an embarrassment to Cryptopsy, to metal, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the worst songs ever conceived by man. The album outro '(Exit) The Few' is worthless as well, beginning with an odd melodic groove for the first half of the song, then closing with the most irritating use of harsh vocals on the album, overdubbed to hell for an extremely unpleasant fade out – a strong contender for one of the worst album closers in metal history.
The Unspoken King
is definitely not the Cryptopsy we've come to know and love – far from it. But for metalcore fans such as myself, it’s a fresh change of pace from the mundane Once Was Not
and the underwhelming And Then You’ll Beg
, and it was a ballsy move on their part to risk their reputation by trying something different. Going into this expecting another Cryptopsy album will ensure disappointment, but if you listen to it with an open mind and ignore the fact that this is the same band that wrote None So Vile
, you may find some merit on The Unspoken King
Worship Your Demons
Silence the Tyrants