Review Summary: An incredible live album that more than shows off Cryptopsy's live charisma and appeal.
Cryptopsy are a Canadian technical death metal band best known for their early works, a stretch that runs from the legendary and primitive debut Blasphemy Made Flesh through to the technical frills that infested Whisper Supremacy. Every album after this stretch is widely considered to be massively inferior, with some even proclaiming the breakdown filled The Unspoken King to be the St Anger of death metal. Whilst these claims are entirely unfounded as every Cryptopsy album has something to like about it, it does not take a genius to work out that the band went massively down hill in terms of the quality of their material. Eventually however the band did what was predicted for years prior and eagerly awaited and that was that they got in a new French vocalist and recorded the live album None So Live.
This live album is a collection of all the band's most popular songs as well as the seemingly odd choice of Shroud and Defenstration and a seven minute drum solo from Flo Mounier. This may seem like an album that is already on shaky ground to many as the concept of a Frenchman butchering the works of the bands biggest hits such as Phobophile that featured the incredible vocals of Lord Worm is definitely something the band had to be wary of. The track selection itself is very strong with None So Vile taking the lime light as should be expected from anything to do with Cryptopsy. This album is represented four times across the live album, alongside such other fan favorites as We Bleed and the highly regarded Open Face Surgery, meaning the band had left no stone unturned. Each album they had released up until this time was represented on None So Live and the band made sure that they only included material that was considered their best.
The translations of said songs are very aggressive and full of energy, with the already-speedy Phobophile seemingly being played at double speed. The reason for this is that the production on this live is so good that every note of the tremolo picked lines and every kick of the double bass pedal for the drums is more than audible and nothing clashes together so that the live album feels completely organic but is very well handled. Each of the songs is played immaculately with no audible mess-ups to disrupt the flow of the album to any trained listener well versed in the back catalogue of Cryptopsy. For the people who just picked this up due to it being in a bargain basket (congratulations on finding it there) or because of the cover art (unlikely), the sound of the band is the stereotype of death metal only amplified by a thousand times. The guitar lines are fast and intense with some jumps between strings when tremolo picking and a lot of pinch harmonic infested chord based riffs and even the odd slow breakdown such as in the closer Slit Your Guts. Many of the songs have a highly technical edge to them although on this release that is primarily limited to the drumming as many of the bands more technical efforts such as Loathe and Emaciate are completely missing from the set list, with songs such as Cold Hate, Warm Blood and White Worms standing out as the only really technical songs here.
Another aspect that fans of the band will no doubt be interested in is whether Martin Lacroix is up to the job of filling in for Lord Worm on the songs that he was a part of. The answer is that he is definitely more in line with the guttural, indecipherable gargling that Lord Worm became famous for than the hardcore inspired shouting on the previous two studio outings for the band, and is perhaps the second strongest vocalist they have ever had. Whilst not quite matching Lord Worm, he definitely has character live with his angry ranting style of vocals during the faster moments of songs such as Crown Of Horns, and handles the breakdown section to Slit Your Guts surprisingly well. He has not got quite as much power nor stage presence as Worm, with crowd interaction being kept to a minimum aside from a few words on Open Face Surgery and the occasional muttering in French that nobody understands, but he fills in the vocal bracket very well. Flo Mounier's drum solo is another highlight of the album that many wonder about often, with a seven minute drum solo that remains interesting throughout. The man's skill behind the kit is legendary and this solo shows exactly why with many quick runs across his entire kit and an influx of blast beats present throughout that makes this perhaps the crowning achievement of the band on this live release.
None So Live is an essential collectors item for Cryptopsy fans and definitely a solid live album in its own right. For those who are caught up in the band's earliest works with Worm's insane vocals, let this be one that grows on you as the vocals take a little getting used to for those that prefer their earliest works. This is a powerful and energetic series of live recordings that packs a lot of power and makes up for a lack of audience introduction and words from Martin Lacroix with some superbly tight playing.