Cryptopsy - None So Vile
or better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.
Rarely does addiction emerge without a journey. Addicts—junkies, drunks, workoholics—do not merely settle on a habitual form of destruction, they seek it out and bask in it; they gorge on it, they douse themselves in it, they make love to it. The search may be rabid, it may be meandering, but never is it an accident. Addicts, whether they know it or not, are born craving. It just takes time for them to realize it.
The moment of realization—that breathless, shuddering, sexless orgasm when the addict’s eyes flutter and he sigh-chuckles, “I’m so fucked”—is the one perfect moment in the life of the addict: it’s unexpected, it’s novel, it’s debilitatingly sweet. It’s not unlike the rush that accompanies the first listen to a flawless album.
The addiction one develops for None So Vile is overpowering, sudden and all consuming. Nowhere else will you find a match for the album’s power, craftsmanship and sheer mania. It stands near alone as one of creation’s few perfect death metal albums. You may dabble in Bolt-Thrower, Deicide, Brutal Truth or Morbid Angel—all tremendous highs if you get a good batch—but your senses have no choice but to conform to the will of your new master as soon as Cryptopsy gets a foothold on the fluids in your spine.
The high is a short one—lasting roughly thirty minutes—but it is multi-layered euphoria from beginning to end. The most immediately striking element is the album’s sheer intensity. None So Vile, whether swept up in blasting fury, besieged by thrash-heavy disfigurement or devoured by cannibalistic trudgery, is infused with unrivalled levels of psychotic energy. From the seething mess of “Slit Your Guts” to the more subdued violence of “Lichtmistress”, Cryptopsy is untouchably tight, reckless and raw.
Contained within that rough-hewn mindfuck is genius songwriting, the result of internalizing and slaughtering the memorable, near-melodic savagery that made songs like Metallica’s “Damage Inc.”, Carcass’ “Heartwork” and Morbid Angel’s “Chapel of Ghouls” so special. The acrobatics that go into the average death metal song are meaningless if the song leaves no mark on its listener; every song on None So Vile is capable of scarring. “Crown of Thorns”, relentless and brutal from beginning to end, explodes into a searing shred that could have been on Ed Gein’s copy of Master of Puppets. The perfectly placed, sinew-wrenching breakdowns of “Graves of the Fathers” and “Dead and Dripping” transcend death metal cliché, providing dynamics that never lessen the songs’ intensity. The gurgling, vicious “Phobophile” is a blood-soaked testament to what death metal can be if only more bands put some thought into it. Throughout None So Vile, Cryptopsy insists that insane music doesn’t have to be mindless.
But talent, virtuosity and intensity aside, None So Vile is an endless display of dishevelled sanity. Thumb-slapped bass notes constantly jut out and flick your ears like a deranged grandfather. The speed with which the drums and guitars are attacked is at once ghastly and hypnotic. The vocals, however, are the crowning touch: disgorged, mind-bending, swallowed-mic growling. Lord Worm’s endless stream of incoherent grunts, roars, shrieks and spews is at once completely ridiculous and utterly perfect.
But perceived perfection is what makes the dawn of an addiction such a depressing prospect. Once that life affirming high wears off, the habit becomes nothing but a search for the hit that will match the one that hooked you. That hit doesn’t exist. Death metal has been a stagnant joke since Cryptopsy unleashed None So Vile. Fine albums were released before it, but you’d be hard pressed to find five metal albums released after None So Vile that match it in terms of the power it exudes, the craftsmanship it contains and the joy it creates.
Suffice it to say, withdrawal is a bitch.
By: Clay Jarvis
Published on: 2003-09-02