Review Summary: Whisper Supremacy is a solid follow up to None So Vile marred by an abysmal vocal performance.
If there was ever a single, solitary word that could sum up the entirety of death metal in just one breath, the word would be Cryptopsy. Those whom have been initiated into the genre will no doubt be aware of the name and the weight it carries. However for the many people that turn their noses up at death metal and consider it to be nothing more than a jumble of chaos and noise, Cryptopsy are the knuckleduster that hits them square in the nose. The Canadian band are a titan of the genre primarily due to the release of None So Vile but all of their early work is generally considered to be examples of how the genre should be done properly. Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile were both artfully constructed exhibitions of nothing more than pure brilliance with some insanely fast but fairly simplistic riff work and crazy drumming coupled with the inhuman grunts of Lord Worm, creating a template that many bands would later attempt to imitate.
Two years down the line and a lot of things had changed for the band which spelled a change in the wind. Iconic vocalist Lord Worm had by the time of their next release long since departed the band and in his place is Mike DiSalvo with his hardcore punk influenced style of growls. The band had also decided to experiment with a much more technical brand of death metal that had been popularized by such releases as Cannibal Corpse's The Bleeding and Suffocation's Effigy Of The Forgotten. The 1998 installment in Cryptopsy's discography was to be entitled Whisper Supremacy and generally received a positive response although not to as great a reaction as the previous two releases. Critics generally noted that it was an interesting foray into a hyper-technical brand of music but was let down by inconsistency and the vocal performance from DiSalvo. One thing that nobody doubted was the level of talent on display.
The guitar work is a far cry from the primarily tremolo picked riffs of None So Vile and has now become a flurry of some incredibly quick power chords and an abundance of pinch harmonics on some songs. The speed that songs such as Loathe and opener Emaciate are played at are truly something to marvel at, with nearly every riff being insanely intricate but also ludicrously fast. From the finger shredding chords that open up Emaciate through to the bezerk fretboard molestation found on closer Serpents Coil, this is an album that knows no boundaries in the technical field. However this is not just mindless guitar wankery in the vein of a band such as Brain Drill and carries some subtle melodies to it that ensure that it is still relatively accessible to an open minded listener or to a fan of their previous work. Emaciate is a good example of how these melodic elements are integrated into the band's sound on this album after a twenty second opener that descends into some frantic guitar work and drumming that eventually slows down a little before transitioning into a riff that is both catchy, memorable and also absolutely insane.
The guitar work is not the only thing that has really been stepped up on this release with the bass lines being incredible fast and almost inhuman at times. Eric is one of the most criminally underrated bassists in death metal and this album is perfect proof of why, with some crazily quick fills scattered throughout the release and some of the most complex bass lines out there. The slapped bass work is also nice to listen to and it is audible thanks to a tight but rough production job that ensures everything is listenable but also the entire album comes across at first listen as being a solid, impenetrable wall of sound. Flo Mounier is on top form on this release with some of the most incredibly fast drumming out there that schools pretty much every drummer in the business. Think of the fastest blast beat that comes to mind and then multiply it in speed by around a thousand and this is the speed that Flo plays when he is playing slow on this album. The most amazing thing about his drumming is the fact that he is not content to merely play a blast beat but also feels a strange desire to throw in a fill every few measures that makes for a constantly evolving and enjoyable performance.
On vocals for this release is Mike DiSalvo and unfortunately he almost lets the entire band down with some irritating hardcore punk inspired growls that feel completely out of place amidst such sheer brutality. Whereas previous vocalist Lord Worm's indecipherable mumbling of his lyrics felt right at home on albums like None So Vile which are not a million miles away from this in sound, DiSalvo just can not cut the mustard. There are much worse vocalists out there but as far as death metal vocals go, DiSalvo really is not very good and the songs would have been better instrumentally. The songs themselves are all rather enjoyable blasts of madness and rage that are content to merely show off the bands instrumental prowess and this makes for a great listen. Opener Emaciate is probably the best of the bunch but Serpents Coil and Depths You've Fallen are also strong contenders. Each has a fantastic riff set and some of the best drumming out there whilst never failing to be incredible technical and gallop forward at insane speeds. The entire album is one intense roller coaster that never stops and just whizzes past in half an hour.
Whisper Supremacy is an album I would highly recommend to fans of the band's previous material, or anyone who is looking for an album that packs more of a punch than many other death metal albums. Whilst this definitely does not aspire to hit the standards set by None So Vile it is a great album in its own right that is just an example of how technical death metal should be done correctly.