Friday, March 21, 2014

Crypt of Kerberos - Into the Ruins [ep] (2012)

There are not many bands in my opinion that come close to the extremely low tuned, war-like savagery of Bolt Thrower's 'Realm of Chaos'. No, War Master is not one of them. First, their guitar sound is too weak and tinny and secondly, they somehow manage to fumble the ball when it comes to creating thick, juicy slabs of riffs. I would say that Malignancy's 'Ignorance is Bliss' demo is very close at times (though that particular release sounds like a mixture of Bolt Thrower and Immolation, which of course is a great thing, mind you!) and of course Crypt of Kerberos.

Crypt of Kerberos are one of the more obscure bands from Sweden's initial death metal outbreak. They are also among the oldest with most of the line-up having been in Macrodex before putting that band to rest and charging up CoB. CoB are also not immune to the mid-life crisis that befell most death metal bands in the mid-'90's as their one and only full length, 'World of Myths' (1993), is one of the more puzzling letdowns within that decade. I wouldn't say that the band had completely abandoned death metal altogether but like their countrymen, Crematory, had done a year earlier, CoB stripped away all of the heaviness of their guitars in some apparent attempt to showcase their newfound interest in noodling. One one hand you can say "well, at least they're not "radikulting" all over the place". On the other, however, you can kiss that ungodly low-ended crunch goodbye. Sadly, or perhaps mercifully, the band hung it up shortly thereafter.

As always, I held onto a semblance of hope that they would return to the sound of their demo's and ep's rather than the album when I discovered that they were once again writing music almost two decades later. Well, crossing my fingers seems to have payed off as CoB have not only unleashed one of the best releases of the past decade but also their entire catalog. The aptly titled 'Into the Ruins' sounds and feels like exactly that. Returning to a now ancient place once filled with power and wickedness, both of which still strongly emanate an enormously negative vibe.

Undoubtedly the thing I like most about this release is the sprawling landscape of an abandoned planet masterfully painted by the doomier sections whose presence is abundant. Aside from a few faster moments, this is the stuff that fanatics of funeral doom shit themselves over. The guitar's sound absolutely devastating and really bring the riffs out in the most monolithic way possible. I have to say, CoB really surprised me with this as most bands never really seem to fully recover once they abandon their trademark sound. Look at Metallica.

Vocally, Christian Erikkson is not as low and monstrous as he once was but there is absolutely nothing wrong with his performance and most importantly it fits the music perfectly. This is certainly (albeit thankfully) not a retread of 'World of Myths'. Apparently the band  realized that it just wasn't them put it behind them for good... at least I hope so. We shall see if this 'ep' is merely an anomalous venture into the past but for now I am relishing every moment of it!

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