Released 1994 on Invasion Records
Lord Worm - vocals
Jon Levasseur - guitar
Steve Thibault - guitar
Martin Fercuson - bass
Flo Mournier - drums
Blasphemy Made Flesh
is Cryptopsy's debut full-length. It precedes 1996's classic None So Vile and unsurprisingly, as you would probably expect if you've heard NSV, doesn't surpass it. Not to say it's not a good album - I still love it, and all the elements which made None So Vile
a classic are here, they're just less refined.
Still, at first it's difficult to put a finger on why exactly this is (apart from the obvious production differences, which I'll come to later); it's still an excellent album, raw and brutal. Lord Worm's vocals are already just too good; his vocals though, incredible though they are, are lacking the extreme low-end that they have on None So Vile, and so lose some of that value they had as another rhythmic instrument in the band. He also doesn't seem so controlled, or focused (although admittedly, this sometimes just enhances the chaotic feel). This lack of control also extends somewhat to Flo Mournier. Now, it's pretty much fact that Flo is a monster, and even at this early point his near inhuman speed is on display. However, there is a little lack of control - his blast beats, for example, while fast, often seem to lose coherency if he carries them on for a while. These are just minor quibbles though, both men are still excellent features of the band though, and there's little to criticise about the performance of the guitarists and bassist - the riffing is still fast and frantically switching, and creating their wall-of-sound effect, and the solo leads are still fast, high-pitched and suitably impressive.
The first real criticism is the lack of variety. On None So Vile, as on many really great albums (of any genre) as well as feeling like a complete album, each track had identity. Crown of Horns
had its higher technical level than most of the rest of the album and even more excellent drum-work, Phobophile
with it's schizophrenic intro, and Orgiastic Disembowelment
's ultra-cool, bass-induced death metal breakdowns. Basically, you can listen to a song from that album and identify it fairly easily. Here, it's not so simple. The tracks are of a mostly very high quality, but few stick out from the rest. In fact, apart from the obvious Open Face Surgery
, I would venture to say that only Serial Messiah
really stands out. Not to say that every track on an album must be markedly different, but here it strikes me as being Open Face Surgery
, Serial Messiah
and The Rest
The other highlighted problem is the production. Mincing no words, it's poor. A low-quality production isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can enhance the appeal of many extreme metal acts, and indeed bands like Darkthrone seem to make a living off of recording in a forest, with an answering machine. Cryptopsy however are far better suited to a higher level of production. Their style of guitar playing is generally to play numerous complex riffs, switching from one to the other very quickly; this, backed by Flo's seemingly uncontrolled drumming, gives them an unpredictable, organic feel - often (moreso on their second album than here) they'll go from brutal, thrashing riffs to slow, sludgey power chords, and back again, for no other reason than to show they can (and for the cool factor it evokes in people like me). This change from fast to slow, or vice versa, is often accompanied by the bass becoming momentarily more prominent. Unfortunately, here, the guitars are disturbingly low in the mix, which means that often the bass overpowers them anyway. The drum sound as well is far too hollow, and doesn't do justice to the skill of the musician. All in all, it gives the impression that the band recorded just a few feet further from the mics than they should have.
Still, once you get inside the production (i.e. if you listen to just Blasphemy Made Flesh
for a while), it's still a dam
n fine album. Tight musicianship and songwriting, including an awesome drummer, an absolute maniac on vocals, a generally uncompromisingly brutal approach, and, if you care to read the booklet, excellent lyrics. Lord Worm being the master of the English language that he is (literally; he's an English teacher/lecturer), his lyrics are always a treat. They're never anything less than disturbing, if you're not already into this kind of thing, but they're poetic, and often incredibly funny (ask, if you really want examples). Overall, a fine metal album in general, and pretty much mandatory for fans of brutal death metal.
Without a doubt, Open Face Surgery
; a great song in every respect, from the sample at the beginning, through top-class instrumental work (which seems to be engraved in my mind), and with one of the best death metal vocal performances of all time, including that