01. Luminum 02. In The Kingdom Where Everything Dies,The Sky Is Mortal 03. Carrionshine 04. Adeste Infidelis 05. The Curse Of The Great 06. The Frantic Pace Of Dying 07. Keeping The Cadaver Dogs Busy 08. Angelskingarden 09. The Pestilence That Walketh In Darkness (Psalm 91 : 5-8) MP3 10. The End 11. Endless Cemetery2005 Century Media Records
by Ash Levitt
It's sometimes difficult to objectively assess the new album of a band who has become a pioneering mainstay in a given genre. For a band like Cryptopsy, they have been making solid death metal albums for well over a decade now, while weathering the storm of all of the passing fads in death metal and beyond. In fact, albums of theirs like None So Vile and Blasphemy Made Flesh are considered death metal classics in many circles. Therefore, based on sheer history alone, it's very difficult to accurately perceive the band's newest offering, Once Was Not, as if it is completely independent of everything else related to the group. So, I'm just going to say this now: while Once Was Not is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, it is certainly not the band's shining moment in the course of their discography. Cryptopsy fans are not shy when it comes to their opinions on occurrences throughout the band's history. For instance, many heated debates have transpired over who the better singer is/was for the group. (Notice I said better, and not best, meaning I'm only comparing two vocalists: Lord Worm and Mike DiSalvo. The yahoo on the live album is not even worth arguing about.) Now that Lord Worm is back in the fold, the band has come closer to the original incarnation of Cryptopsy that spawned Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile. Though anyone with ears can agree that Worm's and DiSalvo's vocal stylings are very different, the music the band has produced throughout their career has always been characteristically recognizable as Cryptopsy. Despite the loss of DiSalvo and guitarist Jon Levasseur, the music and feel of Once Was Not is still traditionally Cryptopsy through and through, seeming to be a good blend of the older Worm era material as well as And Then You'll Beg and Whisper Supremacy. Fans familiar with Cryptopsy's sound will recognize all of the usual elements. Flo's drumming is once again in superb form, as his performance on Once Was Not is easily some of the best drumming recorded this year. Now one guitar short, the dual guitar interplay is nonexistent, and the guitar work on Once Was Not falls a little flat at times compared to previous releases. There is a general overall lack of solos, with only a few, though this is understandable with only one guitar. However, the guitar and bass do a decent job of creating riffs that rebound back and forth without becoming monotonous. In short, the musical tour de force that is Cryptopsy is still basically in place and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. That said, however, there are many aspects of Once Was Not that prevent it from being a truly excellent album. Without getting into a Worm vs. DiSalvo argument, Lord Worm's vocal performance on this newest offering is, quite bluntly, not that special. His voice sounds as if it has not been treated well over the years, and is nowhere near as much of a powerful presence as it was on previous albums. His incoherent ramblings, and occasional god awful dramatic talking spells, make the listener long for the clarity of either his earlier material or the DiSalvo era vocals. The other aspect of Once Was Not that really suffers is the production. Many times this album sounds like it was thrown loosely together in the studio in a very short amount of time. Different elements of the record sound unbalanced and almost like they're competing against each other instead of melding together to form one comprehensive sound. Flo's drums in particular sound horrible compared to previous releases. They remind me of the Muppet drum set I had as a kid with paper drum heads (only Animal and Kermit never inspired me to play like this). Bottom Line: The only reason why this album did not receive a poor score is because the musicians of Cryptopsy are quite simply amazing. Even when they produce an album that does not live up to the potential and the high bar they set for themselves with previous releases, it is still better than 90% of the other crap out there that will never be able to pull off what Cryptopsy does. Many long time listeners of Cryptopsy will not be bothered by the things I have mentioned, but others, like myself, will be slightly disappointed and will long for the older material instead.