MGF Reviews Cryptopsy – The Unspoken King


Cryptopsy – The Unspoken King
Century Media Records (6/24/08)
Technical death metal

While not completely rare, it’s not every day you see the type of blowback like that which is plaguing Cryptopsy for its latest release. The band is getting negative reviews across the boards from longtime fans, who are accusing them of selling out to the metalcore scene to make money. Hell, the last time a furor like this was reached in metal circles was probably back in 2003 when Metallica released St. Anger.

So is all the hate really warranted?

Cryptopsy was upfront before the release of this album. The Unspoken King was going to mark a new direction and be more experimental for the band. Before hiring frontman Matt McGachy, the band said it was looking for someone who could sing clean as well as do the usual growls.

The Unspoken King opens inauspiciously enough. “Worship Your Demons” is a quick little kick in the teeth, an extreme helping of straight-up death metal, as McGachy immediately slides into the lead vocalist slot with vengeance, serving up guttural wails with little effort.

However, the following track, “The Headsmen” is much more dynamic in its assault. Flo Mounier absolutely destroys with his drumming, combining speed and precision in such a way few others seem able to do (never sounding completely out-of-control or taking over the track). The guitar work incorporates more technical aspects as well.

“Silence the Tyrants” marks the last of the typical Cryptopsy attack. The song has a lot of really interesting groove underlying the usual death-metal fare, but is otherwise nondescript.

And then this train just seems to derail.

On “Bemoan the Martyr”, the band seems to be channeling the Deftones at one moment before sliding back into its usual approach. (The cleaner, wailing vocals bookend the song, which actually makes things sound forced in this case.)

And that’s pretty much how the rest of the album plays out; the death-metal staples are tempered with cleaner singing and slower moments. There’s some truly inspired, intricate guitar play on “Resurgence of an Empire”, and McGachy has some great clean vocals on “The Plagued” and “Contemplate Regicide”. Plus, there’s a couple of breakdowns thrown in for good measure. And take a listen to the great bridge thrown in to the middle of “Leach”, which is probably the best song on the album.

In the end, it would appear that fans may have overreacted with The Unspoken King. Death metal is not the most inventive or imaginative genre, and Cryptopsy isn’t the first band to attempt to pull in different elements to shake things up a bit. The band actually doesn’t do half-bad with this effort. In fact, the biggest issue to take with this album is actually due to something you can’t even hear. The group went through the trouble to hire on a keyboard player (Maggy Durand, listed as a permanent band member), yet any elements she may add to the songs is either overpowered by everything else or nonexistent altogether.

The playlist was put together perfectly, as the new “sound” is incorporated a little at a time until the listener gets used to where the band was headed. And the cleaner moments really add an interesting dynamic to the band, especially on a song like “Bound Dead”, where the vocals are multi-tracked at times with a subtle growl under the clean vocals. This is what Cryptopsy should be doing more of if this is truly the direction the band hopes to follow.

Unfortunately, a lot of times the cleaner material comes across as contrived, and the changes seem to be there just to exist, instead of making sense from a song structure standpoint. This makes most of the album seem torn in different directions for absolutely no reason.

In the end, you’re left with an unfocused effort that has its moments and shows potential growth for the future. “Bound Dead” (which is phenomenal, by the way) and “Leach” are obvious high points. The rest is a mixed bag.

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