Review Summary: A powerful attempt at bringing back the feel of the past two release that is unfortunately held back by some abysmal vocals. However, if you are looking for a fast, aggressive workout then this is the album to go for
Love him or hate him, Lord Worm is an icon in the world of death metal. From his outstanding vocal performance on the band's finest work None So Vile to the ability that so few possess to be able to write lyrics that truly get under the listener's skin, it would appear at face value that everything Lord Worm touches turns to gold. However, following his departure just months after said genre-defining work, the vocals in Cryptopsy really did go somewhat downhill. Things started off well with the first post-Worm album Whisper Supremacy, but by the time of And Then You'll Beg it was clear that Lord Worm was the only vocalist for Cryptopsy that could work. Mike DiSalvo returns for this release, having already proven himself to be a strong enough, although not quite up to scratch vocalist on Whisper Supremacy. His vocals on here, however, leave a lot to be desired. Clocking in at just under forty minutes, Cryptopsy's fourth studio vocal release contains nine songs of tech-death music that is a rather mixed bag.
Right from the off it is clear that the riff work is as tight as ever, with some hyper fast guitar playing and riff work throughout the album, and the riff at three minutes forty of And Then It Passes shows that Cryptopsy are just as powerful as they were on None So Vile on this album. The same could be said for Flo's drum performance, giving his most complex performance to date on this album, laying down the usual hyper fast blast beats but still managing to keep it sounding one hundred percent creative. The bass work is consistently jaw dropping, being played at crazy speeds and still refusing to just follow the guitars as has been evidenced time and time again on their previous releases. So what exactly could let such a monstrously technically adept instrumentally superb album down?
For those who have heard None So Vile, you would be forgiven for thinking Cryptopsy is the perfect band for death vocals, having been one of the focal points of said album with ultra guttural growls and blood curdling screams. And whilst those elements are all present on And Then You'll Beg, the vocals clearly lack the energy of previous releases, with DiSalvo clearly having lost all power behind his vocals after Whisper Supremacy. He still achieves a low enough growl, and is more understandable than the barks found on his last album with the band, but the vocals lack any form of passion behind them, merely going through the motions. Occasionally, such as on We Bleed, Mike DiSalvo attempts the banshee-like screams of None So Vile but to little success, with them feeling completely watered down and underwhelming. The band has had its vocal glory days, but And Then You'll Beg is definitely the sound of a vocalist who needs to think about leaving the industry altogether, as he could not hack it against the vocal performances found on any other Cryptopsy album, even including The Unspoken Degree's growls and screams to a certain degree.
Also, many of the songs either feel too long or they have one or two sections that do not slot together very well. For every absolutely spot on segment of a song such as the bass only intro to Soar And Envision Sore Visions and the frantic drumming that introduces Voice Of Unreason there are utterly terrible moments, such as the ridiculously forced stop-start bursts of rapid fire drumming at the beginning of Back To The Worms and later on in that song where the song stops completely for a second before diving back in. Many bands could have wrote a song so that it all fits together and never once feels like a band that has overextended themselves but this album really does at times feel like that. The instrumentals themselves are completely stellar, it is just the fact that at times the band has pushed themselves too far.
Album closer Screams Go Unheard is the biggest offender, with a silly and quite unnecessary introductory sample that drags on for over two minutes, clearly attempting to build some sense of dread and an eerie atmosphere before the song really kicks in, but it fails on every single level imaginable. There was absolutely no need to use a one hundred and second sample to introduce and album closer following the absolutely frantic album that had preceded it, and after all that wait, the song takes a while to really get into it, with the first riff being one of the worst on the album. When it really starts to sound listenable is from the first blast beats onwards, which give way to some of the most outstanding riffs found on the album, being ridiculously technical, but even then it does nothing to save itself, with some pre-recorded spoken word vocals and whispers thrown in at times again to create an atmosphere and never really doing anything to add to the song itself.
This is an album that is so well written instrumentally that upon first listen it will absolutely astound the listener, especially if it is their gateway into the band. It has nearly unmatched brutality and a level of technical talent carried by the band that is absolutely amazing to listen to. However, it is also a record that is marred by its flaws with Mike DiSalvo's vocals being a crippling feature that does nothing to bring back any link to the band's classics such as None So Vile other than the wish to be listening to that release instead.