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Cryptopsy’s ‘Whisper Supremacy’

As classic albums go, you wanted ‘None So Vile’, right?

Of course you’re right. It’s not just Cryptopsy’s best, it’s one of death metal’s best, bar very very few.

But ‘Whisper Supremacy’ just doesn’t get the same kind of love – and I think it’s long overdue that it did. So I’m pulling it From The Vaults, and I hope you will too.

I dont know what I’d do faced with having to follow up ‘None So Vile’.

Songs like ‘Phobophile’ are so peerless that you’d be inclined to move into new stylistic realms entirely rather than attempt to equal them.

Not Cryptopsy.

They chose instead to modernise, get sharper, harder, tighter, and to update their sound to the kind of intensity that in all honesty has been mached by very few since for sheer bludgeon.

They took their core sound and refined it to its nth death metal degree – and the result sounds like a trepanner going through a rock face.

Out Of Their Skins

It is the sound of a band pushing the pedal hard to the floor in terms of what Death Metal was even capable of – a pinnacle of ferocity and technical adventurism.

Every element of the band played like themselves but times ten: the guitar and bass compliment of Jon Levasseur, Miguel Roy and Eric Langlois shred out of their very skins.

Essays could be written on Flo Mounier’s physics defying drum performance. It could be ventured that it’s in fact technically – if not musically – better than NSV, but that’s splitting hairs.

You’ll anicipate however that the point I’m building to is of course the vocals – the gut busting force at the front of this album.

The Big Lad

Yes, Lord Worm was a character, and made ‘Vile what it was, with his vocal equivalent of wet slabber. That was important. It fitted perfectly and had a unique personality.

Something that death metal has found less than straightforward though, even through all its classic albums, has been coming sufficiently out of the fictional to sound threatening; dangerous; homicidal in a very real and immediate way.

Yes its vocalists have sounded bestial, animalistic, primitive and inhuman. But rarely did they have the very real presumption of imminent and traumatic physical violence.

That is the feeling that the big lad Mike DiSalvo brought to Cryptopsy, and perhaps it’s far to say, to the genre, with this album.

His sound was more New York than either Florida or Gothenburg; hints can of course be heard of Suffocation’s wutchutalkinabout Frank Mullen or Pyrexia’s Keith DeVito.

When this came out, the word Hardcore was bandied about, a lot, and inaccurately as shorthand for a man in a death metal band with a shaved head not talking about demons.

What he brought was absolute hyperviolence to the band. He was death metal transposed from either combats or leather into jeans, a string vest and six tins of Special Brew walking a pitbill and ready to absolutely fuck your face up for looking at him the wrong way.

That’s what it sounded like, and still does today.

His bellow on this album is that of a redneck ready to put your eyes out with a broken pool cue. Even now, nearly twenty years later, there is little death metal that really sounds like that.

White Worms

So it was challenging. It was a ‘WTF’ moment for very many a death metal fan, wrongfooted as to whether they should like it or not; a question quickly resolved as the speed, detail and incendiary hostility scorched out of its thirty intense minutes.

Though it’s best listened to whole, it gave brilliant, brilliant moments in the band’s canon.

If you haven’t savoured that whispered word, whatever it is, that opens the album, you haven’t lived – and the way it gives into its immediate, G-force causing ‘Emaciate’ with its bewildering variability of speeds and beats remains a technical ecstasy of anger management.

If you haven’t anticipated the always unexpectedly quick slam after the spanish guitar of ‘Cold Hate, Warm Blood’, you’ve missed out.

As an aside, I had quite the amazing good fortune to see them in ’01 play a set of ‘Whisper’ – and watching them pull that off was like nothing on earth.

If you cant yell along to ‘White Worms’, you’re missing one of life’s simple pleasures.

There are so many such moments.

The fluid arpeggiated guitar solos. Flo’s snaps; his flight of stroke snare speed, which one suspects moves the air so fast his sticks aquire lift; the blastbeats that start so fast and heavy they cant be sustained, disappearing into quiet only to re-emerge.

The gluggy, second-long bass breaks.

The punishing, teeth breaking slams.

All of this and more make this sensational record, this record so, so worth remembering more than it really gets.

I’ll just close by saying this. Spin it tonight, and remember: what a fucking album. And if you haven’t heard it, away and educate yourself.

Earl Grey :: 07/11/16

  1. That was an enjoyable read and a nice blast from the past. Whisper and blasphemy made flesh were always my cryptopsy go to’s.

  2. Paul Keohane Says:

    Haven’t listened to it in years,but played it a lot back in the day.Beast of an album.

  3. massiveTractor Says:

    My favourite album by them. Let the flogging commence 🙂

  4. King Hostile Says:

    The two above and “None so vile” epic stuff

  5. DuckyDoodleFace Says:

    I’m also a fully paid up member of the DiSalvo fan club.

    As much as I love BMF and NSV, Worm’s vocal delivery has always been largely bollocks. There’s a certain intensity lost (and it could be argued that it is also less skillful) when the words are completely unintelligible – see any generic vocalist that tries to deliver the vocal hooks of a Slayer song in a death metal style.

    Musically this is just as gonzo as NSV, so I prefer this overall.

  6. “Worm’s vocal delivery has always been largely bollocks”
    I always loved the horrific sound of his vox on NSV, so strange and unsettling.

  7. Strange and unsettling yes, but ever read the lyrics inlay of NSV?

    It’s like that bit in Waynes World where he says ‘I feel partly responsible for her self nullifying behaviour’ and it comes out as “nnyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaah”.

  8. Bloody hell, look at the back of the inlay. Classic late 90s Century Media lay-out with nothing in common with the music. I think they had an in-house person doing all their lay-outs back then, almost always muck.

  9. Sure so did all of them. Step forward Cacaphonous, Napalm, worst offenders!

    Even CM couldn’t control the Umbro top.

  10. That inlay reverse is truly terrible and so laughably inappropriate. Looks like it should be on a Leaves Eyes record or something.

  11. King Hostile Says:

    Yeah unlike a good looking hooker if you picked that up from behind you’d have thought is this an acid house dance band?

  12. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    Time will be very kind to this album.

  13. Not many seem to share my enjoyment of ‘Once Was Not’. Worm’a vocals were unimpressive even to a 14-year-old me but still better than John Tardy

  14. owenofhexxed Says:

    love this album, was always blown away by how they could write ‘songs’ whilst maintaining these levels of brutality.

    As much as I love this album, ‘…and then you’ll beg’ I think is just slightly better.

    In any case give me DiSalvo over Worm any day

  15. Stench of Gore Says:

    Great review this.Gonna give this a lash in the car tomorrow, thanks for the reminder. On a related note I gave None So Vile a few spins over the last few weeks and have to say it hasn’t aged well at all. It blew my socks off when I first heard it all those years ago but just does nowt for me now. Worm’s vocals really are arse – loved ’em back in the day for some reason.
    I too remember Cold Hate Warm Blood live in 2001 (possibly the same gig in Wacken…) sending shivers down my drunken spine. yarrr

  16. Black Shepherd Says:

    Yeah, great album, although like Owen, I always had a slight preference for ‘…and then you’ll beg’: that little bit more bite, more poison! :p

  17. Ciaran’s description of the disappearing blast beats is bang on. I always imagined Flo goin flat to the mat then taking a breath for the next bit. Relentless album. I’ll never forget hearing tracks on the John Kenny show on 2fm. Never heard anything like it.
    DiSalvo for me too. Although I don’t think his vocals would’ve worked on NSV.

  18. And that fuckin Umbro top always cracked me up.

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