Cryptic Shift
Visitations from Enceladus


4.5
superb

Review

by MiloRuggles CONTRIBUTOR (18 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2020 | 28 replies


Release Date: 05/04/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hard, fast, noisy.

Across the ridiculous number of subgenres and crossovers that metal has instigated, there are clearly defined traditions. Knowledge of these traditions is wielded by whip-smart innovators who know these interlacing paths like you know every meandering track and its eventual terminus in your hometown. They are tour guides in a land with known history, guiding listeners past vistas of sounds gone by, enthusiastically answering questions from curious tourists about whether such historic innovation is still occurring today.

The tour begins in the technical death/thrash plaza. Meet us underneath the flag depicting a soldier raising a device toward an imposing monolith in an icy landscape lit by hellish, red skies,” reads Cryptic Shift's brochure, rather matter-of-factly. After navigating through throngs of metal fans in the packed bazaar- unidentifiable meats sizzling under racks of bloated animal corpses, weirdly oily dudes everywhere wearing black shirts adorned with graphic, symbolically-confusing images, superimposed illegible text baffling rather than clarifying the symbology- you spot the vibrant flag and the band standing underneath it, shit-eating grins plastered across their faces.

“Ready to hear some Phenomenal Technicological Astrodeath?” Xander Bradley eagerly blurts.

Before you can say, “Wha–?” he stabs you with a hypodermic, opens up a time-wound, and roughly heaves you through it as your vision fades to black. When you awaken, you're strapped into a cold metal chair, the band are all plugged-in and set-up uncomfortably close to you. Those grins seemingly never left their faces.

As Cryptic Shift ease into the opening minutes of “Moonbelt Immolator” clues about Visitations from Enceladus' core sound are frugally bestowed upon the imprisoned listener. Passing soundscapes elaborate on a conceptual core of science-fiction. Dissonant, winding, unresolved chord progressions tell you to forget everything you know about tonal centres. All the while, bassist John Riley makes it clear that he's here to shred the shit out of a fretless bass regardless of how fragmented the chaos surrounding him becomes.

It's a slow start, with nothing resembling a kinetic groove entering the frame until four minutes into the track, but once the band hit the hyperdrive switch it's time to say goodbye to any semblance of control you thought you had over your bowels. By the time the drums are throwing down thrash beats and the guitars are positively shredding at about the seven minute mark, it feels as if twenty different songs have been aggressively transmitted into your neural implant at once, forcing you to battle an incumbent brain aneurysm, yet somehow, through all of the pain and confusion, you feel a kind of thrill-seeking elation. Worry not, you've got plenty of time to drink this feeling in, as there's still another eighteen minutes or so before the track ends.

The remaining duration of the gargantuan opening track contains noisy freakouts, clean guitar passages that provide small doses of traditional melody, a tasteful touch of chugging, intimidating growls, a couple of cameos from a vocoder, and an absurd amount of unique riffs and chaotic leads courtesy of Xander and Joe Bradley. There is a sense that “Moonbelt Immolator” is a bit haphazardly stitched together, but there's no particularly weak section once the pace picks up, making this structural issue nothing more than a passing problem.

Placing the most labyrinthine track first turns out to be a masterstroke, as the three tracks that follow provide welcome relief with their relatively sensible, self-contained structures. That's not to say that things get simple- these songs are filled with sharp turns and terrifying minotaurs alike- but, in contrast to “Moonbelt Immolator”, every track that follows has a more concretely defined identity.

Lyrically, things are a bit confusing. The lyrics that have spread to such faultless sources as Genius and Encyclopaedia Metallum do appear to be official, but don't appear to contain most of the lyrics that Xander growls throughout this thing. They seem to provide an outline of what's happening in the story, which is apparently a sequel to their last full-length release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's a story of war and time-travel in space. The digital version of the album comes with a few helpful images to kickstart your imagination, but no digital booklet to speak of. Parsing harsh vocals for meaning without the aid of the written word is not a habit of mine, so I can't comment on the efficacy of the storytelling, but it seems mysterious and exciting as a result of its presentation anyway.

Fortunately, Visitations from Enceladus doesn't use its concept as a crutch to prop up a bloated release, or to make the album seem like anything more than it is. Cryptic Shift's latest release can be thoroughly enjoyed solely on account of its performances and dizzying interplay, or as a handy reference point for what the forefront of death/thrash looks like right now. A brief list of reference points for the sound on display here would include the riffage and creative bass-playing of latter-day Gorguts, the speedy precision and thrash influence of Vektor (minus their trademark theatricality and divisive vocals), and even a smattering of pre-synthporn Kayo Dot in some of the album's more loosely arranged sections. While these and other influences are worn proudly, Cryptic Shift have created an album on which they transcend plain imitation to prove that they are whipsmart innovators deserving of any metal nerd's attention.



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user ratings (80)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Welcome to an innuendo-less Milo review. I even rose above and put Blood Incantation in the recs against my better nature.



GIVE THIS ALBUM LOVE, BUY IT HERE. https://cryptic-shift.bandcamp.com/album/visitations-from-enceladus



BETTER YET, BUY THEIR DISCOG IT'S LIKE ANOTHER DOLLAR COME ON LIGHTEN UP

Pikazilla
June 2nd 2020


11160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wait, first song is how long again

Ashtiel
June 2nd 2020


977 Comments


25 minutes and 56 secon--holy shit that's even longer than the closer for the last Blood Incantation album.

i'll definitely check this soon, looks insane.

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah, good point, edited in the track length ty. She's a biggie, that's for sure

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


12522 Comments


try listening to some funeral doom poseurs.

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've honestly forgotten that track length is an issue for some after diving into funeral doom

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


12522 Comments


Well a few hour long dirges never hurt no one, unless of course you're currently in hospice then, well....my bad.

Back on topic, I think this review is somewhat masterful. I was however, looking for some slight phallic references and came up short. I haven't had a chance to spin this album yet (mostly because it's time I started working again - thank fuck because I was kind of getting fat sitting around drinking all day) and I've been listening to the new Cosmovore EP and Vile Creature album. Hopefully 2020's back half can make up for it's more lack-lustre beginnings.

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I tend to come up short in most matters phallic, so I thank you and extend my empathy. Definitely give this bad boy a shot, hopefully it helps you deal with sobriety in tandem with having to talk to people again

Either of those releases worth a spin?

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


12522 Comments


Short answer: yes.

That Cosmovore EP is quickly turning into my fave EP of the year, while I've only given the Vile Creature album a few cursory spins (it's also not quite out yet) it's looking to be an easy 3.5-4. The art itself is a 5/5.

--having to talk to people again--

the fuc is this?

https://vilecreature.bandcamp.com/album/glory-glory-apathy-took-helm
https://cosm0vore.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-necrosphere

Pikazilla
June 2nd 2020


11160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was really cool on the first listen - I can't hear the Vektor comparison tbh, this is barely thrash.



Even though the first song is all over the place, I very much enjoyed it. Gonna give it another spin tomorrow.

EvoHavok
June 2nd 2020


7817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This rules. Glad to see a review for it.

DDDeftoneDDD
June 2nd 2020


12175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm curious cause this has Afterbirth as similar artist and I like the cover, it reminds me of Fallout (:











speaking of Cosmovore, don't forget June 12 the new LP from Ulthar crustpsychDM - Providence, whose first album's name was Cosmovore m/

Digging: Thou - blessings of the highest order

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2020


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@pika completely fair. There's a lot more death than thrash, and Vektor are maybe a questionable comparison as they tend toward the melodic a lot more. Nevertheless, there's thrash here, and everybody else seemed to be namedropping them so there's something to it.

@evo solid rating bucko

@DDD it doesn't really sound like Afterbirth, but I reckon you'll like it. Cover is so cool

bloc
June 2nd 2020


61145 Comments


Checked this out due to the album art, and the album does indeed shred. Maybe a bit too long but that seems to be the case with all these newer prog dm albums with 4-6 tracks

Digging: Cut Copy - I Thought Of Numbers

DDDeftoneDDD
June 3rd 2020


12175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

so...4 tracks eh? lets go..I sense I ll enjoy this very much!

DDDeftoneDDD
June 3rd 2020


12175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ooooh



where am I again?

ShadowRemains
June 3rd 2020


25173 Comments


need to give both this and cosmic putrefaction a listen

DDDeftoneDDD
June 3rd 2020


12175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Im on those 2 as well...cautious 4s for now. This is more tech thrash, artsy stuff. The other falls a bit more on the osdm side.



This has more 4.5 potential imo

Pikazilla
June 3rd 2020


11160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed.

DDDeftoneDDD
June 3rd 2020


12175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I like this first song. Its like 30 seconds too long though.



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