Thursday, 4 April 2013

#266 Krypts - Unending Degradation

If you pay attention to record labels, you'll eventually come to know a bit about their character, and what to expect from them. There are currently a couple of record labels which I trust to consistently sign and promote good bands, and one such label is Dark Descent Records. Finnish death-metal outfit Krypts are signed to Dark Descent, and consequently, my expectations of their d├ębut album were suitably high. Did the album meet my expectations? Well, due to the constraints of how I structure my reviews, you'll have to wait until the next paragraph to find out.

I've been mentioning album artwork more than I used to recently, and I see no reason to stop now. The music may be the most important aspect of an album, but artwork is something which I hold very dear, and good artwork can really be the cherry on top of an already great cake. I've definitely got a place in my heart more specifically for painted album art, especially, as is the case with this album, I can actually see the brush-strokes and texture of the painting if I look closely. Solid artwork often raises one's spirits before one even listens to the album at all, and I can safely say that when I first listened to the album the dark, uncrowded image gave me a real excitement for the music that was to come. Sometimes the artwork and music match one another really well, and this is certainly one of those albums; within seconds, the listener is engulfed in death metal which is rugged, dark, brooding and unapologetically old-school. Like many of their peers in the young old-school-death-metal scene, Krypts carry an atmosphere of real depth and magnitude - the chords and lead sections feel massive, with the haunted, groaning lead guitar especially lending a truly bleak, unforgiving and at times malign feel to the music. It feels like a triumphant and very much active dismissal of the hundreds of identical modern death-metal bands which still saturate the genre, and it's great to see young bands coming through the ranks, fiercely reconciling heaviness with tangible atmosphere, which is something which so many slam, brutal and technical bands know nothing of. 

Unending Degradation sounds ancient, akin to the sound track of a tomb laden with cobwebs spun by spiders who had themselves died before time itself began; like the foul breath of an aeons-old ghoul raising itself from some sarcophagus in a decrepit sepulchre. The mid-to-low tempo doomy sections of the record, in particular, have a very urgent feeling accompanying them - they feel like they are narrating events of some kind, which is something that I find a lot of music forgets to do nowadays - there aren't riffs for the sake of riffs in Unending Degradation, instead there are riffs here to make the song feel like it's lyrics, and to make the song sound the way it should. The whole record feels like it's been crafted in that way, with the music and lyrics created in tandem, as opposed to vocals merely being superimposed over the top. There is an all-pervading sense of flow in the album, and while the tracks do not overlap in terms of theme, the album really feels complete, which is something that the rising old-school death metal bands have been doing very well indeed. The album is also particularly dynamic and memorable; Bands such as Binah, I find greatly enjoyable, but much harder to listen to, and indeed harder to remember. Krypts are, by contrast very memorable in terms of riff-work and the infections melodies not only help to devour the sun with their eerie darkness, but are also infectiously memorable. It also doesn't hurt that the band are very open to utilise whatever genre they see fit, with the occasional Bolt Thrower style groove or doom-metal style section - often an intro - really making the album diverge nicely from being of uniform tempo and character.

Of the old-school death metal revival bands I've discovered thus far, I'd venture to say that Krypts have been among my favourites. Unending Degradation is the sort of album I'd recommend to anyone who claims to be a fan of death-metal in general, and I can safely say it's been one of the most pleasing death-metal albums I've listened to this year so far. As I've said before, I'm only beginning to truly appreciate death-metal, and bands like Krypts are definitely helping.

I'm going to give this 9/10.

Krypts on Bandcamp
Krypts on Metal Archives