Album Reviews

Album Review: Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Century Media Records | 26 March 2021

cryptosisAccording to this Dutch band’s bio, Cryptosis means the “hypnosis of technology”.  It is certainly true that in this dystopian age into which we now enter, the streets have become increasingly populated by zombies held in a perpetual daze by their smartphones.  So, this is a band with something to say on their recently released debut Bionic Swarm for century Media.  After listening to this album, though, it soon becomes clear that this is a most prodigious, even adventurous effort.

A concise minute-or-so intro titled “Overture” provides a symphonic beginning to the sonic journey.  When the album finally kicks in with the following track, “Decypher,” it is with a thunderous explosion of Extreme Metal fury of a slightly blackened nature.  Frenetic, apocalyptic, and with a flurried barrage of angular riffs, the music scorches by like an all-consuming firestorm.  The mixture of the double bass assault, layered keyboards, and thick guitar and bass intertwined together at times reminded me of Emperor though more in scope than delivery.  What the track achieves is to establish a crucial precedent, a brand of excellence per se for the album.  “Death Technology” is a logical follow-up, a just-over three-minute aggressive mix of Thrash juxtaposed to that more Blackened formula of the previous track.

At this point, it is pertinent to address “how” the album sounds.  Beginning with the bedrock, the drums sound phenomenal.  There is just enough blend of organic tone and modern sensibility to allow the individual pieces, be they toms, bass, cymbals, etc., to truly pop in the mix.  The album is so varied in terms of rhythms and arrangements too that it is naturally an abode for the percussion to excel and drummer Mario Prij does just that.  As a bass player, when I hear a unique bass tone – especially in Metal – my ears perk up.  Frank te Riet who handles bass, backing vocals, and mellotron as well, in true Geddy Lee fashion, has a tone that is shaped by a very sharp metallic attack yet is still full-bodied and resonant.  In short, it has a truly distinct sound that sits just right in the mix.  The final elements, guitar and lead vocals, are handled by Laurens Houvast and he performs his duties exceedingly well.  The first thing most Metal fans listen for is the guitar tone, and his rhythms are marked by a very clear yet aggro bite while his leads have a spacey, almost Voivod quality marked by wide modulations, echoes, and reverbs. 

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People across the music industry have been saying that albums have been dead for years.  Maybe that is true for Hip Hop or Pop, but I would like to hold on to the idea that Heavy Metal fans still embrace the format.  Cryptosis apparently does!  This is proven by the continuity of the record as it rolls along its peaks and valleys.  Some other highlights I highly recommend are the fourth track, “Prospect of Immortality,” a more groove-oriented affair that really bears the Coroner influence, and the seventh, “Conjuring the Egoist,” a track that wanders into more Prog yet still highly energetic and no less extreme territory.

Honestly, this is an album that came from out of nowhere for me.  It is hard to contain the excitement for an album full of truly inventive, oft-curious yet no less enticing riffs.  Maybe the more mainstream fans may find more musical nourishment from whatever trend is prevailing in those circles, but Cryptosis is certain to appeal to fans of the more extreme, inventive, and daring bands from the ‘80s to now.  That spirit of innovation that has accompanied so few bands fully enveloped the creation of this band, a feat made more stunning by the fact, again, that this is a debut.

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