The Unspoken King by Cryptopsy
Release date : May 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
Following yet another turbulent period in their notoriously turbulent history, Canadian noise Metal terrors Cryptopsy mark a return to Extreme Metal's sphere. Stormy periods frequently plague the group, as illustrated by the departure of classic vocalist Dan Greening (better known by the pseudonym “Lord Worm”) since the October 2005 issue of fifth album Once Was Not. Guitarist Alex Auburn confirmed the frontman's departure during late April 2007, providing little details other than the fact that Worm didn't leave of his own accord. Worm contradicted this account of events in early May, citing health reasons as being the motive behind his departure, but more specifically the toils which constant touring entails.
Drummer Flo Mounier scheduled drum clinics to take place at the following locations; The Kinsmen Pine Room in Oakville, Ontario on June 27th, The Wheat King in New Market, Ontario on June 28th, and at Salon Jeanne-Mance in Montreal, Quebec on July 7th. By September, it was announced that the sticksman was offering his services as a freelance drummer, recording artist, touring, clinician, and teacher to any genuinely interested parties. Aired on Quebec's TV5 on October 17th at 1:30 a.m., Cryptopsy was featured as part of a documentary concerning CITÉ 2000, a building which houses the rehearsal rooms of over two-hundred artists (including the group themselves. Donaldson and Mounier began work on an album with indie rapper Roman during early December, provisionally entitled The Roman Empire, and purportedly a musical fusion of Cryptopsy, Primus and Public Enemy.
That same month, it was announced that 3 Mile Scream vocalist Matt McGachy had usurped “Lord Worm”, and that Maggie Durand (Howling Syn) had joined Cryptopsy as samplist / keyboardist. Recording sessions in support of Cryptopsy's sixth album began in mid December; Mounier's drum parts were laid down at his respective home, whereas all other parts were committed to tape at Donaldson's Garage Studios. In February, The Unspoken King was announced as the title of Cryptopsy's sixth studio full length. That same month, vocal parts were finished. In addition, erstwhile Ion Dissonance vocalist Gabriel McCaughry added vocals to a cut entitled “Anoint the Dead”. South American dates were scheduled from March to April 2008, but they had to be scrapped as Mounier broke his kneecap. Drum tracking had already been completed, so The Unspoken King's recording wasn't affected. Via MySpace, new track “Worship Your Demons” was previewed in mid March. Featuring “Worship Your Demons” and “Silence the Tyrants”, a widget was issued in support of The Unspoken King in early May. Shot in upstate New York, “Worship Your Demons”' music video was filmed with David Brodsky helming direction.
Cryptopsy is seemingly a revived entity, and proves eager to venture towards fresh territory - an approach the outfit hasn't fostered in quite awhile. The Unspoken King cannot be deemed a magnificient album however, yet nonetheless hails the unquestionable arrival of a new chapter. In recent years, Cryptopsy has been an influential figure amongst the chaotic Stateside Metal scene. Material authored by the likes of Chiodos, Norma Jean and The Black Dahlia Murder undeniably bears the group's influence, albeit in diluted form. As ever, Cryptopsy's overtly technical Extreme Metal stylings transpire; within its opening riffs alone, The Unspoken King fuses elements of Thrash, Speed, Prog and Grind against one other. In addition, certain musical elements will be viewed as being in tribute towards the mainstream. Without doubt, this development will aggravate longtime Cryptopsy admirers, but the blame largely rests with McGachy's vocals. Had “Lord Worm” possessed such vocal ability, the group would have opted towards experimentation quite some time ago.
“Bemoan the Martyr” comprises the album's central cut, forming a bridge between both Cryptopsy's trademark mannerisms and the group's musical aims. Whether it be the number's Jazz influenced riffing, or its raw dynamism, “Bemoan the Martyr” wholly encompasses The Unspoken King's actual meaning. Inaugural track “Worship Your Demons” firmly adopts the safe option, and with the notable exception of its vocal stylings, the song can be deemed traditional Cryptopsy fare. McGachy makes a stellar contribution, and easily sidesteps any comparisons towards erstwhile vocalist “Lord Worm”. Grunting more frequently, McGachy's chords maintain a heavier flare. In most instances, the intonations closely approach modern Metalcore as opposed to Death Metal. If granted a fair hearing, younger Extreme Metal admirers could really immerse themselves in the audibly more modern “Anoint the Dead”. Replete with an inspiring guitar solo, it also possesses a Metal bounce which shifts a healthy amount of copies in the millennium.
To summarise, it's unlikely The Unspoken King will wholly satisfy any music fan. If you favour the somewhat looser, more accessible stylings which have defined the acts works of late, then roughly fifty percent of the album's content will prove likeable. If you favour traditional Cryptopsy tunes and wish to hear the group perform material which suits them best, then roughly fifty percent of the album's content will still prove likeable. Irrelevant of whether your admiration lies with McGachy or “Lord Worm”, McGachy makes a superb contribution as previously noted. In terms of vocal diversity, McGachy compares favourably against any fellow counterparts a listener might wish to name. In all honesty, Once Was Not is the stronger release. However, Cryptopsy earns credit striving towards a higher musical realm than just that of the creepy uncle who dwells in Grandma's basement.