Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cryptborn - In The Grasp Of The Starving Dead

In The Grasp Of The Starving Dead
Dark Descent Records

Put together as a side project outside of death metal outfit Maveth, Cryptborn is a relatively new group to emerge from the Finnish death metal scene, with the five piece act (Comprising of Maveth vocalist Christbutcher, Maveth drummer Ville ‘V.M.’ Markkanen (Although he contributes guitars to this outfit), guitarist K.L., Maveth bassist Jani ‘J.N.’ Nupponen and drummer AtomosM) having only formed in 2010.
‘In The Grasp Of The Starving Dead’ is Cryptborn’s debut E.P. effort, and was originally released earlier in the year in limited numbers (Three hundred and fifty apparently) on cassette through Belgium’s Detest Records. But within a couple of months, the band caught the attention of Dark Descent Records, who have duly re-released the E.P. in C.D. form.
Given Dark Descent Records’ track history in the past, it doesn’t take much to figure out what style of death metal Cryptborn hope to deliver to listeners. And sure enough, it’s every bit as old school as you can get.
There’s nothing new under the sun in terms of old school death. After all, bands such as Entombed, Dismember and Grave virtually laid down the template on which most bands model their sound on. But while some bands manage to surprise with their reinterpreted and reheated rehash of the classic sounds of old, some acts just can’t seem to add enough of their own personality into their sound to make it stand out as anything more than simply sounding like a complete carbon copy of the original.
In Cryptborn’s case, it’s very much the latter.
Things start out impressive enough, with the short introductory piece ‘A Feast For The Grave’ boasting an oppressive guitar tone and sound that is equal measure of doom and death, and Christbutcher’s low guttural growls adding plenty of menace and death to proceedings.
The faster paced follow up track ‘Gift Of Rotten Flesh’ is a worthy effort, and one that showcases the band’s firm grasp on what makes up the classic death metal sound. But while the song does have its merits, it also has its fair share of drawbacks as well. Most notably is the dreadful production. Whether this was the kind of sound the band were aiming for is unclear, but the dull thump of the drums adds nothing to the power the band are obviously trying to project. The other niggling point is the band’s song writing. Yes, it’s hard to be totally original, but even after giving the song several listens, it’s still hard to remember much about the song, let alone thinking it was all that fantastic just after it was finished.
Unfortunately, the issues that bring down ‘Gift Of Rotten Flesh’ tend to carry through to most of the E.P.’s remaining five tracks. The title track ‘In The Grasp Of The Starving Dead’ does have a strong groove, and some cool lead guitar passages, and ‘A Nebulous Parting’ and ‘Atonement From Hell’ are generally the pick of the remaining tracks, but overall Cryptborn’s debut effort is a fairly by-the-numbers effort.
Cryptborn do show some promise on their debut, and there is some hope for the future should the band focus on writing songs that sound a little more distinctive and unique, and put a little more thought into the production side of things.
If you’re after some old school death metal, you could do a whole lot worse than checking out ‘In The Grasp Of The Starving Dead’. But I could also say in the same breath that you could also do a lot better too, because while Cryptborn are good, they’re still far from great.

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© Justin Donnelly