Saturday, March 7, 2015

Crypt Sermon - Out of the Garden [2015]

Given the jaded state of doom metal, it's impressive enough that we're given the chance to hear bands like Crypt Sermon, who, without betraying their subscription to primal masters such as Saint Vitus or Candlemass, can almost seamlessly bring a great, exuberant servicing of doom, delectably packaged. It's pasty enough that these guys are on Dark Descent Record' roster - one of the premier 'traditional' metal labels you'll find today - but the medieval imagery and 11th century mysticism of this whole album gave me such a worthwhile hard on that I realized I might not have been this excited about a new album for a considerable time, let alone the doom genre. A great big 'fuck you' to the flocks of floundering sludge and heaving doom metal bands who are on to making a buck out sheer heaviness and songwriting conundrums, ''Out of Garden'' is a real treat to say the least, an entertaining jousting tournament that appeals to both the bright color palette of the album, as well as its shadier counterpart.

I knew I would love this album the moment I heard ''Heavy Riders'', easily one of the catchiest and most excellent pieces of medieval heavy metal anthems in existence, if there ever were any. The song unbuckles with cavorting, cryptic (har har) riffs that draw heavily on Candlemass, with great, jumpy oriental melodies sandwiched in between the heavy, mid-paced chord progressions as well a superb thrash metal chug, and the verse is just so damn catchy that it seems like the perfect nighttime tune to accompany a group D&D nerds playing by an archaic furnace:

It's a cruel world huddled 'round the fries
Sharpening our swords and our spears
Hopin' and prayin' and the holy men are sayin'
There's nothing to fear

But that merely emerges as the fastest song out of the album (and my favorite). There's not a huge pool of influences that these guys borrow from, and aside from the usual suspects, this is genuinely original doom metal that's equally epic in its choral sections as it is hauntingly foreboding during the majority of its glorious run-time. The guitars, despite some inherent constraint in the riffcrafting department, exercise a varied slew of riffs from standardized, trudging crawls to more melodic or harmonious progressions like on ''Byzantium'' that eke out a lot of doom metal's traditional redundancy.

The vocals retain an aspiring balance between frenetic over-the-top banshee howls a la Atlantean Kodex - though Crypt Sermon is far more somber and ominous than the latter to plod on a continually epic, atmospheric vein - and a more controlled inflection, though they are always great and prominent. ''Will of the Ancients'' mates the uncannily creepy melody of the rhythm guitars with his effortless voxing - needless to say, I'm a fan. In retrospect I would have appreciated the use organs or keyboards more frequently if at all, but only because the whole album is crammed with so many good riffs and memorable moments that ambiance seems like only thing amiss... But even that is partially fulfilled with ''Into the Holy of Holies'' which not only rocks with swaying, leaden doom riffs but an excellent, atmospheric chorus above the vocals. A truly 'holy' piece, and not to mention that it has just one of the many guitar solos which hold more instrumental oomph than half a dozen sleazy doom/sludge acts combined. I enjoyed the drums as well, thanks to a more-prominent-than-usual sound and a loudness that punctuated the riffs nicely. 

Even the songs have managed to truncate themselves in suitably small portions, (with only one song running at 8 minutes) finding some magical solution to one of the biggest problems I whine about in metal music: length. As always, I'm not going to hold back the fact that not all the riffs were mesmerizing or had the same level goosebump-givability, and despite the variation it became somewhat clear that the riffs that were in circulation were more or less the same, but with songs like ''Heavy Riders'' or ''Will of the Ancient Call'' I can hardly call that a major gripe. In fact, I found myself enthralled by the sheer static and gloomy quality of the serpentine guitar riffs at least half the time. Unarguably, there were some tedious moments, who doesn't have them nowadays? This is obviously not a particularly fastidious boxing of doom metal, but it is pure and proud, and it proves that traditional doom stringer has still a number of jewels in its treasure trove, and so long as gnarled, medieval, Gothic fanaticism persists we'll never really run out of good bands... What else can I tell you? The music speaks for its self. Grab your shield and lance; mount up. And hell, if these guys merely stepped out of the garden with their debut, who knows what they'll be walking into on the sophomore?

Heavy Riders
Out of the Garden
Will of the Ancient Call

Rating: 85%

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