Tuesday, August 13, 2019

review: Crypt Sermon

Crypt Sermon
The Ruins of Fading Light
Dark Descent Records
release: 13 September 2019
Crypt Sermon has spent lots of time in an effort to give to the customer serious quality in the hope that audiences will discern the difference. What the Pennsylvania, U.S. band does (if we ignore for now discussions about genres, styles and biographies) is to use two indispensable devices for the production of tremendously melancholic melodies that have the objective of affecting listeners in emotional ways. The first tool utilized for their purpose is the guitar. Throughout each of the seven songs (out of ten tracks), one can detect the meticulous attention paid in the crafting of guitar melodies that evoke a sense of contemplation, dejection, wonder, soul searching, doubt, and other emotions along those lines, but all the while keeping the guitar, as already mentioned, melodic and joyful in its own way. The second skill in question is the singing. This matter is more difficult, given that more people are capable of playing guitar well than they are able to sing well and channel melancholy into the voice. This singing fits the music very well; it has the tone of a soul beaten down by the failures in life, but not weak and frail, rather resolute in the quest of living.
Crypt Sermon is traditional, classic-style polished epic doom metal, following the gold standard of the genre, namely, 1980s Candlemass (Sweden), who established the hallmarks of melancholy, elegance, grace, melody and uniquely soul-dolorous singing, with a sense of religiosities working as inspiration for the spirit of the music. Crypt Sermon seeks to continue and expand on that gold standard. The American band’s album is highly memorable and will have to be a priority for the fans of the style to keep on their lists for purchase consideration.
Crypt Sermon seems strange for various reasons. In addition to being on the label Dark Descent Records, a U.S.-American company known primarily for growling extreme music, often very old-school-minded death metal, where 1990s-loving death metal bands come to find a home, the personnel of Crypt Sermon seems to come from death, black and thrash bands. Put it all together and what do you get? Not the expected product, for sure.
In order to do the review it was necessary to read the lyrics because they have a song called “Christ Is Dead” and another track called “Enslave the Heathens.” The first one seems like it would be the typical amateur gimmicky anti-Christian nonsense; the type that yell and scream about committing blasphemy and deicide without saying anything much besides trying to get attention by regurgitating the so-called rebellious anti-religious tropes. Surprisingly, the lyrics are not that, although clearly the title is still gimmicky and very “metal.” The other track also has a gimmicky title in “Enslave the Heathens,” but it is an instrumental short piece; no lyrics. Fortunately, the band does not do the usual faux whining about how Christians doing “one thousand years of oppression” against the supposedly awesome life of the human-sacrificing, kidnapping, town-burning, slave-taking, robbing Vikings, before Christians arrived to the lay the foundations for the supposed modern living hell of theocratic oppression that is Sweden or Norway or Western Europe, or the USA. In actuality, Crypt Sermon has thoughtful lyrics that allow the readers to make up their own minds because listeners, thankfully, are not passive fools. While not as elegant and graceful as the lyrics of Candlemass’ “Samarithan” or “Mourners Lament,” the American band’s lyrics show effort and a desire to have good expression, which is only going to be better on future albums.
The riffs are doom but not super slow. The sound is friendly to the ear. The singing is smooth and also pleasing to the ear. There are a few tiny traces of anger in the singing in some places, a somewhat angry scream here, a hint of a growl there. Luckily, they make sure keep the singing melodic all the way throughout, maintaining the elegance and melancholy of the music intact. All in all, this album side steps any major missteps that could have happened. If we are talking about polished melancholic traditional doom with singing, this album in 2019 would have to be in the top tier.

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