Saturday, 28 February 2015

Crypt Sermon - Out of the Garden (2015) / 85%

Out of the darkness, brighter than a thousand sermons

Perhaps one of my most expected albums of 2015, the debut of the Philadelphia based doomsters met my demands. Formed by young but dedicated musicians from varied metal backgrounds (let's namedrop Hivelords, Trenchrot, Unrest and Infiltrator), the band's debut full length is a mature traditional doom metal blending the tropes of old with a refreshing and tight sound.

Using the classic religious vibe found in bands like Trouble, Crypt Sermon went all in with this superb cover art showcasing a crusader knight riding towards a fortress and exiting a cavern, perhaps this so called garden inhabited by darkness and vices. Painted by their talented singer, Brooks Wilson, the cover definitely helped the band get a lot of attention and rightfully so. Using Christianity as a lyrical background, the band is perhaps not the most original setting but it goes hand in hand with the style developed on “Out of the Garden”. Rest assured, it's only an artistic choice and these guys are still pretty evil (check out their bullet belts)! I'll also give them some credit for the poetic quality of their lyrics, they're very well written and that's always a plus.

Dark Descent has been known for its death and black metal but the label is slowly starting to branch out a little with this band and also Anguish from Sweden, that's good news for the fans of the genre like myself since it gives a decent platform to the genre. Crypt Sermon, opposed to bands like Pallbearer or Pilgrim, are pretty good at their craft. Their debut album, like their impressive demo, is a very tight slab of epic proportions. Nonetheless, there's no time wasted here and they won't bore the listeners with plodding repetitive numbers. The songs are all between 5 and 7 minutes, they're mid paced, slow burners with a lot of passion and dedication. It's melodic and has a lot of class and distinction, qualities that are necessary to achieve greatness in epic doom (see Atlantean Kodex)

Now evolving as a five piece, the instrumentation is rich, precise and the double lead guitars are akin to fellow American Magic Circle. While I don't think their level of quality is higher than the magical musicians of Boston, there's a wide array of tremendous riffs such as the catchy ones in “The Will of the Ancient Call” or the folky medieval vibe of the epic “Into the Holy of Holies” which is channeling their inner Candlemass. Even though, I think the best aspect of the band is Wilson's clean and powerful vocals, the subtle but grandiose songwriting deserves its fair share of praise as well. Blending the power of classic American doom (see Trouble or Solitude Aeternus) with the European school, while it's something quite common in the scene nowadays, it's still an interesting and worthwhile strategy.

The album is thoroughly well produced and that's yet another proof of the professionalism demonstrated by the quintet. For a debut album, we can hear a mix of traditional doom styles that is both contemporary and timeless. There's still some things to improve before they play in the big leagues but the potential is there. Essential listening for 2015 as far as I'm concerned.