Dark Descent Records
September 20th, 2011
Release length: 28:01
Like most newer bands today for the Death Metal style, the group focuses on some really heavy, soul crushing music, and it sounds wonderful. The guitar distortion is about the same as your every day Swedish Death Metal album, but thicker with an overall deeper audio sound enhanced nicely by the loud bass. Granted, that bass doesn’t do much to help out “A Feast for the Grave (Intro)” and leaves a slightly uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when the track starts, but after that song, it’s nothing but spirit crunching smooth sailing. The drums are just right for a Death Metal album as well, having a rich and deep thud to the bass kicks with full yet heavy sounding snares against some cymbols that are actually not too loud, which winds up being the only drawback to the kit since they do help the sound, but end up not feeling strong enough in the mix to really make the impact that they could. Of course vocally it’s your traditional gutturals, but they are executed professionally with a good deal of variety to the enthusiasm to further enhance the overall hopeless atmosphere and crushing music, all tied together through a more modern sounding production that has everything rather crisp, but thanks to the heavy distortions and heavier audio quality the release sounds more muddier then clean.
As stated, the bass in this release is pretty loud and has the potential to hurt some of the songs, but luckily it doesn’t cause much damage, but instead really drives the album well. “A Feast for the Grave (Intro)” is more of a slow moving passage that establishes the atmosphere of the album you’ll be facing, and it does it well despite that it’s really nothing too spectacular outside of crushing guitar riffs that do start to feel repetitive, relying solely on the bass which, after a while, starts to feel too downtuned and loud in the track and doesn’t do much to benefit it. After a rather long fade out which works but couldn’t come soon enough, “Gift of Rotten Flesh” kicks in and does it’s best to bash your skull in with it’s mixture of slower paced verses and the faster chorus with crushing bridges that further push a dismal atmosphere to the listener. The songs do often follow this idea of blending slower and faster passages, but there’s enough variety to the songs that it doesn’t become repetitive, and in many ways you can feel an obvious difference in the pace of the song compared to others despite how the pace changes.
While Cryptborn introduces you to a crushing world of brutalizingly slow Death Metal with “A Feast for the Grave (Intro)” and “Gift of Rotten Flesh”, which is something that does stick to some later tracks as well, the band isn’t afraid to kick things into a higher gear. “In the Grasp of the Starving Dead” starts out faster then those two tracks and some of the others to come, and it really stands out as a genuinely faster track and not just a song that teases you with a change of speed to only drop down again to a slower crawling pace. This really allows the song to stand out, even when you reach the end and the song does shy away from it’s faster approach, but that shift feels natural, and acts more as an intimidating closing to the track that simply feels right. It’s sad that there’s not more tracks like this honestly, as this song is really enjoyable and does manage to get the listener’s blood pumping along with it nicely thanks to the more intense ride and not as much of a spirit crushing one. There is the track “Never Perfect When You Die”, and again it feels aimed at being a faster more intense track, and it works with it’s blistering pace and it’s ability to go in and out of slower tempos without losing that drive in the song to say that it’s meant to be at a higher octane then the others. But, with that said, these two mark the only times this happens, as the rest of the EP goes at more of a trudging pace.
And that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. It’s clear from the moment In the Grasp of the Starving Dead kicks in that this release is geared towards a more crushing environment, and it succeeds at it well. The other four tracks here do have that atmosphere to them, and that’s exactly how the band ends the release, which is on a stronger note then how they introduce everything. “Atonement from Hell” is just over three minutes, and it again finds the band moving at a trudging pace here and there with some slightly faster moments thrown in to keep the song going along. The track itself, however, only does last roughly two minutes, and ends up feeling more like a genuine outro then an actual song, and while it’s better then “A Feast for the Grave (Intro)”, overall it’s not that great an offering. The rest of the song closes with a guitar ringing out, rain falling, and a heartbeat until it fades to silence. It’s a little disappointing, but in the end the track does end up serving it’s purpose and closing up the EP well enough.
In the Grasp of the Starving Dead is a strong debut from Cryptborn, and it’s clear the band knows what direction they want to go in. While much of the album is meant to sound as bleak and soul crushing as possible, the band does offer up two faster tracks to kill any monotonous repetition that might come your way, and they become a very welcome addition to the release. This isn’t to say that the slower bits are bad, and in fact are just as good, though in no way better. The intro and outro tracks definitely leave more to be desired, but they do their job well enough though taking their time to do it and get to the other songs. While Cryptborn hasn’t made the most awe-inspiring Death Metal EP of all time, the five solid tracks here more then give you enough reasons to check this release out.
01. A Feast for the Grave (Intro) – 2:48
02. Gift of Rotten Flesh – 3:39
03. In the Grasp of the Starving Dead – 5:12
04. A Nebulous Parting – 5:36
05. Rotten Gates of Heaven – 4:36
06. Never Perfect When You Die – 3:05
07. Atonement from Hell – 3:06
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Descent Records via Clawhammer PR.