Mathematics was never my favorite subject in school. In fact, I quit halfway through sixth form (Jr year for you Americans) after one of those uncomfortable office meetings with the maths teacher/vice-principal where is was pointed out that I was on the fast track to … gulp … failing his class. I’d never failed anything before, ever. So I quit before NZQA could get their hands on my abysmal test scores. Took up art history instead, via correspondence, and enjoyed most of the school year looking up naked paintings in the library.
So when friends of mine started talking about math metal, I was pretty skeptical. Why take one of the most despised disciplines on earth and shove it into the most awesome music? One listen to Cryptopsy’s seminal 1996 effort, None So Vile, fixed that right up. Turns out, metal and math definitely go together, as long as you’re in the mood to have your mind seriously blown.
If you’re a drummer, Cryptopsy are the band you wet yourself over. There’s a reason Flo Mounier is considered one of the best extreme metal drummers in the biz. When he blasts, somewhere in the universe, a small baby deer gets run over by a digger, and its little brains go “plop” everywhere. For the rest of us non-drummy folk … there’s the manic, science-fiction breakdowns, the jazzy non-structure, the menacing vocals. Although technical death metal has never really been my thing, I have always had a soft spot for these guys because of their intensity and soaring musical talent. And then they released The Unspoken King, and I – along with the rest of the metal world – threw up hands and said, “WTF?”
So you might forgive my skepticism when a copy of Cryptopsy’s new, self-titled and self-released album landed in my inbox. But I am nothing if not a metal blogger in desperate need of updates, so I gave it a spin.
If you are one of the people – and I’ve not yet met a metalhead who isn’t – wishing Cryptopsy would return to their roots and release more of what they do best – uncompromising, fantastical, technical metal – than Cryptopsy will make your whole year. Pummeling, chaotic and definitively brutal, this album bursts with tempo changes and drums like liquid lightning. This is music meant to beat you into submission, to wear you down with sheer intensity. After listening to Cryptopsy, I’m definitely ready for a nap.
“Shag Harbour’s Visitors” is one of the highlights for me – passages of intense blasts and scalding, furious vocals, mixed with frenzied riffs and jazzy solos that hint at an underlying groove. The interlude of “Red-Skinned Scapegoat” is one of the best parts of the album, providing that much-needed sonic breath before all hell breaks loose. The dynamics of the whole album are just incredible – and I hear few vestiges of the deathcore-heavy Unspoken King, save Matt McGachy vocals, which, to my ears, actually work perfectly with the music.
This is still drum porn, but there’s a little bit here for the whole, sick, metal family to enjoy.
The song “The Golden Square Mile”, which is about an unsolved murder that took place in the band’s native Montreal, is streaming exclusively on Deciblog this week. The new album is due out Sept 11, and you can keep up=to-date with all the details on the Cryptopsy Facebook page.