Review Summary: "I have no idea what I am doing"- Cryptopsy
Cryptopsy certainly have faced their fair share of challenges along the road, with the constant lineup changes and internal struggle it certainly doesn't reflect well on the band’s progress. At this point in time Mike DiSalvo had created his second album with the band. Bringing to the table a much different vocal style than Lord Worm, DiSalvo was ready to change the face of the band, but were the other members so willing?
Cryptopsy always had a magical way of working around the vocals to make them come alive and deliver their vile but most pleasing performance. Cryptopsy’s original vocalist Lord Worm knew this and with his incredible range could work his curdling screams around any riff necessary. Come forward to 2004 the band is still stuck in this same game but now face the dilemma of a much different sound to work around. The problem here is that Mike is simply not cut out to be a death metal vocalist. The horrifying lows, the shrill and tormented highs are all but missing. DiSalvo instead takes a drastically different approach by delivering a punkish-hardcore shout which doesn’t reflect very well on this style of instrumentation. Rather than blending in and making the vocals as to be part of an integrated process DiSalvo greedily takes the front and centre stage expecting the band to back up his vocal performance. By utilizing such an out of place vocal style with breathy shouts it really takes away from the immersion as per found on previous Cryptopsy releases.
While the instrumentation works around the new vocal style the result is not always unified and often even less meaningful. In many ways the band plays much a less inspired version of their previous releases. The shredding, solos, and riffs are all there but never with the force and brutality have we come to expect. A factor in this watered down sound is the production, overall the sound is much more distant and compressed holding back the band from really showing off their technical feats. While each instrument does get its own highlights on this album they tend to be forced and even unimpressive. Notably the bass isn’t nearly as strong as on previous releases, and with the compressed production becomes even harder to pick out. When the bass gets time to shine at the front lines it never really provides anything progressive or contributes to the structure of the song, rather it acts almost as a detour from the actual goal of the album.
Riffs are still great and varied throughout this album, but the sheer diversity of the instrumentation's direction can be overwhelming. Ideas interchange into one another quite sloppily and new concepts can seem to come up at random. Take for example the song ‘Equivalent Equilibrium’ where everything stops in place for the bass to shine, which trades off into a pretty awful riff with the some squealing effect going on. The section repeats a few times before moving on a new equally uninspired and questionable riff. There is no direct transition, rather the band kind of just shifts at times. Every time a new idea comes up the band has a tendency to repeat itself a little too much and can make an interesting, dynamic riff become annoying.
“And Then You’ll Beg” displays a band struggling to find solid ground and evolve. Whether it be for the best is questionable but this album displays the beginning of Cryptopsy struggling to find for themselves a new identity, a trend which only continues with their future releases after this. Hopefully Cryptopsy will figure out what they want, and be able to deliver to us the heart stopping madness that they once delivered.