CRYPTOPSY — Once Was Not (review)

CRYPTOPSY — Once Was Not album cover Album · 2005 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
There once was a fearless band...

Cryptopsy sure can't help but keep testing their fans loyalty. With the only stable element of the band's existence being the drummer, Flo Mounier, upon recording Once Was Not they shed their skin once more by adding a more experimental, jazz-fusion edge to their grind/death metal formula. If that weren't enough, the return of the prodigal filth spewer, Lord Worm, marks a return to more raspy, grindcore vocals and oblique, abstract lyricism. And I'm not gonna lie, all that made me incredibly happy.

The album's sound is modern but quite peculiar and while I really like the way it's produced, I think it might be an acquired taste. The drums are very high in the mix - just behind the vocals - with a strong, punching bass drum and a very organic snare drum and cymbals. Bass and guitars are raw and hidden in the mix, so blast beats tend to drown them out a little bit... but still, I think a perfect balance between organic, brutal sound and selectivity has been achieved here. On Once Was Not Cryptopsy presents some of the most unrestrained songwriting ever heard in deathgrind or death metal in general. The record has a very distinct, surreal atmosphere reminiscent of an acid-fueled trip through a cold, post-apocalyptic landscape where horror and comedy merge into one grotesque amalgam. With the use of jazz-fusion-inspired riffs and clever industrial undertones, the band managed to create nine well-flowing, brutal, wild and unpredictable compositions. The stuff Flo Mounier's doing with his drum-kit is just beyond belief. Brutal, well flowing, jazz-tinged drumming combined with painfully technical and jazzy axe-craft from Alex Auburn make this album a compelling experience. However, combined with rasping and unintelligible yapping by Lord Worm, the music takes on a whole new dimension. It's weirdly organic and surprisingly technical, it's terrifying and mesmerizing in its exotic brutality.

That's a bold album by Cryptopsy and I think one of the most interesting death metal efforts out there. It boasts some of the most well-flowing brutal death metal and it was so far ahead of its time, many people failed to see the glorious triumph of the concept behind it. If you're looking for a different approach to death metal without sacrificing brutality, or just want to see how far one can go with the genre without leaving its boundaries, this album is for you.
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