Crypticus/Scaremaker - Split
Selfmadegod Records
Death Metal
9 songs (34:34)
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Charles
Here is a highly entertaining split showcasing two bands joined together by a shared worship of death metal, horror and, to a lesser extent, of goofy puns. Perhaps ‘projects’ fits better than ‘bands’ as both contributors here are small groups comprised of members with lengthy pre-existing death metal CVs. Scaremaker’s line-up is particularly noteworthy, comprised of Razorback Records founder Billy Nocera, his wife Vanessa (see also the entertainingly occult doom-death of Skeletal Spectre, among other things) and Elektrokutioner (drummer behind the woe-laden likes of Decrepitaph and Encoffination). More committed souls you are unlikely to find, and their side is especially worth hearing.

First, though: Crypticus. This is a duo comprised of an American and a Swede- in zazzier terms what the label calls a “North American/Scandinavian Death Alliance”. And thus it transpires; their side of the split is heavily inflected with the influence of old Swedish death metal. Beauty and Deceased or the sub-two minute The Hungerer streak past in a blur of heavily pumped-up death-thrash, accompanied by animalistic vocals that could have been used to voice the demons from the Evil Dead films. Their best moment might be the fearsome End the World of Men, with its brutal stop-start riffing which gives way at first to electrifying almost-melodic thrashing and then to sour-faced groove. It is also pushed close by the bowel-scraping churn of Baron of the Dark.

Scaremaker’s sound, though, is something else entirely. Unlike Crypticus’s route-one delivery, their songs slaver erratically. The guitar sound festers with reverb, and an emphasis on sickly melodic tones gives it the air of a leering mockery of black metal. Elektrokutioner’s drumming is thudding and ramshackle (a word I last used in my review of one of his many other bands, Encoffination), prodding the band in and out of corpulent slow sections which seem to flop flabbily out of nowhere, causing unbalance and disorientation. Billy Nocera’s vocals are often little more than freakish gargles, lending a sense of apposite madness to the likes of Insane Diesection. Reverberate Through is particularly noxious. It clanks and jerks between two gears: the first a sluggishly slow plod given a sick imperiousness by the echoing wails of the lead guitar tones, and the second a chaotic mess of blasting speed. Marvellous.

This is a split with an intriguing trajectory: starting life as sublimely uncomplicated and unpretentious death metal, before spiralling off into sinister weirdness. It’s the latter- Scaremaker’s contribution- that really sticks in the mind, each track plumbing the depths of extreme metal with a lunatic enthusiasm that outweighs any shortcomings in the haphazard musicianship. A release that is well worth investigating as a showcase for two good death metal bands.

Killing Songs :
End the World of Men, Reverberate Through
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