Cryptopsy - Once Was Not
Century Media
Technical Brutal Death Metal
11 songs (49:40)
Release year: 2005
Cryptopsy, Century Media
Reviewed by Aaron
Album of the month

Once, a long time ago, there was a blight upon the land. Namely, the lack of this album.

Daily (or weekly) readers of this site will know of my love for Cryptopsy. Indeed, the only thing that has stopped me from writing a Classic review for None So Vile like it actually deserves is that I can’t figure out how to word it without sounding like the death metal equivalent of a Justin Timberlake fangirl shrieking outside his unlisted penthouse apartment at 2 AM. But anyway, in case you don’t like death metal or have been living in a forgotten mausoleum for twenty years, Cryptopsy are known for being really, really brutal and for writing songs that are just kinda like a bunch of random twists and turns.

Now, to begin cutting to the chase, something that has always been lacking in the Cryptopsy department was plain old songwriting. Blasphemy Made Flesh differentiated one track from another via usage of movie samples and not much else. None So Vile… uh… they all blended together into one monstrous song on that one as well. Whisper Supremacy… same problem, and even more so with And Then You’ll Beg.

However… I still absolutely love all those albums. In fact, for the reason that None So Vile contains the single greatest death vocal performance in all of metal HISTORY, it still beats Once Was Not. But now… finally… I can tell all the tracks apart from one another really easily on this new one. After about five listens, the tracks clicked in my mind. This is mostly due to the intros, which range from dark electronica-influenced dirges to slow ambience, and the ‘intermissions’ that are deftly placed at the end.

The biggest issues I have with this release are twofold: First off, the production. I’m sorry, I love Flo Mounier too, but his drums do not need to be mixed up this high. It’s like listening to some dude incessantly tapping his feet on the floor. I mean, the drums sound good… but they’re too prevalent in the mix. It’s really, really annoying. The guitars are mixed way too low, but the excellently inventive bass lines are nice and loud.

Lord Worms’ vocals are also rather disappointing. He sounds… old. Creaky. He can keep up with the music sufficiently well, but his style is so harsh and croaky now… and they’re barely deep at all… like an old man with lung cancer trying to yell at a bunch of kids to get off his porch. There are the occasional deep growls, but not enough of them. I remember reading something on the Cryptopsy website, or in an interview with Worm, where he said that he couldn’t do the deeper vocals because it would alienate all the fans that had started liking the band with And Then You’ll Beg. Well… to not mince words, that’s fucking idiotic. If they really liked the band, they should stick around even through the vocal change. I can understand where he’s coming from, but it makes no sense to me. I know he can still do those vocals, I have the DVD.

In any case, the guitars are responsible for a good portion of this score. The guitars and the dementedly original lyrics, and the songwriting. Alex Auburn is filling Levasseur’s shoes rather well, with standout riffwork that hearkens back to the dementedly technical days of Whisper Supremacy with more coherency than the lovely convoluted chaos that was And Then You’ll Beg. Sweeping tremolo runs abound with choppy brutal riffs and wildly unpredictable stops. Then they start up again, hearkening back to Emaciate and other such classic Cryptopsy tunes.

Now, one quick observation: Remember how Flo Mounier seemed to not be able to hyperblast straight-out for more than two minutes at a time? Well… I’m pretty sure that he could just hyperblast his way into oblivion at this point. He’s at the height of his drumming skills and if they weren’t too damn loud, then this album might have been better than None So Vile.

My favorites on this CD are Keeping the Cadaver Dogs Busy, which has an awesome jazz intro and really… well, insane riffing. Best comparison I can think of is Necrophagist, especially around the midsection when Alex plays several permutations of the jazzy main riff in quick succession, and Angelskingarden, the seven-minute death metal epic with a slow moody intro and a breakdown that should be up there with the top ten of all time. Flo’s drumwork is just utterly manic on that breakdown, really makes the song quite a bit more frantic-sounding. The ‘motif’ riff they repeat throughout at seemingly random intervals is also a wonderful example of modern death metal riffing.

Now I would note the presence of the two ‘intermissions,’ The Pestilence That Walketh In Darkness and The End. Both are there to provide something of a break from the relentless death metal pounding the album gives you, and in different ways. The first is in a melodic black metal style, with spokenword vocals and slower tremolo riffing that brings Dimmu Borgir to mind. The End is a mostly synthesized track with Arabic drums and weird symphonic flourishes. I like ‘em both, but just skip to the ending track if you don’t want a break.

This is an excellent album. Top five of the year for me, and that’s for damned certain. Hats off to you, Cryptopsy. Heck, HEADS off, they’d probably prefer that. And don’t forget to throw yourself out a plate glass window right afterwards.

Killing Songs :
Don't make me choose favorites besides Keeping the Cadaver Dogs Busy and Angelskingarden.
Aaron quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Cryptopsy that we have reviewed:
Cryptopsy - The Book of Suffering – Tome 1 (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy reviewed by Bar and quoted 73 / 100
Cryptopsy - None So Live reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Cryptopsy - The Unspoken King reviewed by Goat and quoted 19 / 100
Cryptopsy - None So Vile reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 9 reviews click here
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