Back in the emerging days of technical death metal, you were met with this raging ferocity and extreme intensity that you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world at the time. Cryptopsy was one of the forefathers of that movement, blending extreme vocals and blisteringly fast, painfully technical riffs with grooves that induced spine-snapping contusions. They were rage and hatred tracked, recorded, and played back for the following masses, and the world wasn’t prepared for what they had in store. Their first demo, ‘Ungentle Exhumation’, came out in 1993, and in 1994, ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’ began their genre-defining rise. Fast forward 2016, and just last year, we saw the release of the EP ‘The Book of Suffering: Tome 1’. In 23 years, we’ve been given 7 full lengths, and to say they’ve been hit or miss would be a massive understatement. So we here at Metal Wani have made a list of the ‘Best to Worst Albums’: Cryptopsy Edition.
1) ‘None So Vile’
It stands certain that ‘None So Vile’ will go down as one of the best death metal albums of all time. The seething hatred and disgust that radiates off this record should be explanation enough here. Everything about the album, from start to finish, is crisp, tight, and 100% original. It’s a savage masterpiece that stands the test of time as one of the most pivotal records from that era. With Lord Worm’s howling vocals mixed in with the bat-shit insane riffage, and drums that sound like well-coordinated machine gun fire and exploding cymbals. Every member raised the bar that day for the rest of the extreme metal community by doing something that no one else was doing, and absolutely crushing it.
2) ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’
Our first taste of Cryptopsy came in 1994 when we were blessed with the glorious monstrosity that is ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’. This record is one of the most raw, unwieldy, and iconic records to date, making a massive impact when it was first released and helping shape metal as we know it today. This was the first full-length in which we heard Lord Worm in all his majesty that we recognise today. Previously, we’d only heard releases from him with his pre-Cryptopsy band Necrosis, which tremble in comparison to his later works. ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’ is the first time we ever got a full-length dose of the visceral insanity that made Cryptopsy so great. From start to finish, you’re hit with convulsing, technical, off-the-wall riffs slathered in groovy, bizarre bass lines that add a sharp defining edge to the sound as a whole.
3) ‘Once Was Not’
After two records with Mike DiSalvo on vocals, Lord Word made a brief return in 2005 to record ‘Once Was Not’. The record had more of a mixed avant-garde sound, and their signature sounds from hell. Opting to dial the full-on intensity back in light of more experimental and jazzy sounds at times might have alienated a portion of the original fan base, but personally, I still really love this record. ‘Once Was Not’ is proof that Cryptopsy can break into a dynamic and open up into a broader, more complex soundscape. This is a phenomenal example of experimenting with a new sound without completely ditching the original. This is what ‘The Unspoken King’ failed to do so miserably, and is probably the reason it went over that much worse when it came out a few years after ‘Once Was Not’.
4) ‘Whisper Supremacy’
Come 1998, we had seen the initial departure of Lord Worm and the introduction of Mike DiSalvo on vocals. Essentially, the reason this record isn’t as revered as the ones with Lord Worm is simply because Mike’s vocals were simply not quite up to par. The technical prowess on the album is still incredibly tight and convoluted, at a notably faster tempo, But what could have been another overwhelmingly successful record was marred by a comparatively inferior vocal performance. This isn’t to say Mike’s vocals were bad by any means here – he later gave his best performance by far on ‘Whisper Supremacy’. Other than the issues with the vocals, this is still a badass record. Eric Langolis and Jon Levasseur bring the vile riffs and nasty bass lines to the table, and Flo Mounier of course crushes on the kit, showing his wide range of skill with ease. If you can get past the vocals, I’d call it another win for the band.
Jump forward to 2012, and the band was just recovering from the unspoken abomination they released four years prior. With only two of the original five members left, it was becoming clear that the band was drifting away from their original sound. Their self-titled full length seemed to be a move to a more modern sound, while bringing back their original edge they pawned off for the last record. They must not have been able to get it back completely, because even still, ‘Cryptopsy’ felt too commercial and overproduced. However, I do feel that this is a step in the right direction for the band. The riffs are more technical and groovy, and Olivier Pinard does a phenomenal job bringing back the fat, nasty bass lines into the mix. If you take the album out of context with the rest of the band’s discography and treat it as its own separate entity, it’s a good record; but stacked up against everything else, ‘Cryptopsy’ just doesn’t quite satisfy like it should.
6) ‘And Then You’ll Beg’
The second go-around with Mike DiSalvo on vocals with the new addition of Alex Auburn on guitar seemed to be the beginning of the end. What could have been at least another solid record from the band turned out to be a boring, slightly more technical version of Hatebreed. The vocals were a complete miss on this record: the lows were short and unsustainable, and the all important high, nightmare-fuel screams were flat at best. The riffs were much less interesting and memorable than any record previous, and Jon’s usual incredible solo work was crammed into 20 to30-second sound bites that did them no justice. The takeaway here is, if you’re an extreme metal band that puts out a record where you sound like a slightly more angry than usual hardcore band, you’ve fucked up somewhere.
7) ‘The Unspoken King’
If you know anything about Cryptopsy, you shouldn’t be surprised at all to see this album at the bottom of the list. In fact, it’s been at the bottom of every list ever, except the lists naming off the worst albums of all time. Sitting on the shelf with the likes of Morbid Angel’s legendary turd ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’, ‘The Unspoken King’ violates one of the most sacred bonds between bands and their fans. They took their established sound they built their devout fan base upon, and all but threw it out the window; sacrificing their incredibly unique albeit commercially inaccessible sound for one that sounds like something you’d get it if you tried making a Cryptopsy record with an EZ Bake oven and Garage Band.