By David E. Gehlke
Arguably the most brutal band to emerge from Canada, Montreal's CRYPTOPSY has spent nearly the last 15 years scratching and clawing its way back into the good graces of the death metal scene. The obvious blip in the band's discography, 2008's rock and clean-vocal infused "The Unspoken King", was met with immediate disdain. A segment of fans were unrelenting in their displeasure for the change in sound, lashing message boards with complaints and putting the Canadians on the defense — including retaliatory audio clips that mocked its listeners. It backfired on CRYPTOPSY. The band became independent four years later with a 2012 self-titled album, followed by "The Book Of Suffering - Tome I And II" EPs in 2015 and 2018, both of which flew under the radar.
The band's new Nuclear Blast Records-supported "As Gomorrah Burns" brings CRYPTOPSY full circle, harboring a degree of unrelenting, chaotic, rhythmic savagery that hasn't been heard since 2005's "Once Was Not". An integral part of the album is vocalist Matt McGachy, who, after 16 years of fronting CRYPTOPSY, has matched the rhythmic audacity of his predecessors, including the indomitable Lord Worm (real name: Dan Greening). McGachy and BLABBERMOUTH.NET subsequently caught up to talk about "As Gomorrah Burns" and exactly what went wrong with "The Unspoken King".
Blabbermouth: Are you in touch with Lord Worm or any of the other previous CRYPTOPSY vocalists?
Matt: "Absolutely. We drink beers together. Lord Worm is a wonderful human. He is always in character, always what you expect him to be. He's truly very wonderful. Every time we go near where Martin Lacroix is located, he's in Germany and has been all over the world as a tattoo artist. We hang out. He comes up to the shows and does parts with us sometimes. We're a tight-knit family in CRYPTOPSY. There have been many eras of CRYPTOPSY and we're respectful and try to be in contact with all the previous members."
Blabbermouth: Has it dawned on you that you're now the longest-tenured CRYPTOPSY vocalist?
Matt: "It has. [Laughs] I've done so many interviews talking about it. I have "sticktoitiveness." You have to stick with things in order to develop and become better and more mature. I'm happy that 16 years in, I'm finally one hundred percent satisfied with the record we delivered to the world. On my 24th birthday, Flo [Mouiner, drums] told me I had the gig. It was a big celebration, but I was a little torn because I was so involved with my previous band, 3 MILE SCREAM. They were all at the party. None of the CRYPTOPSY guys were. We weren't friends yet. [Laughs] It was sort of like cheating or not being faithful to this band I had been building from the ground up. At that point, it was five years. I celebrated myself because I got the gig, but it was daunting because I was not ready."
Blabbermouth: CRYPTOPSY has primarily been releasing EPs of late. Why a full-length now? Was there consideration in doing "Tome Part III"?
Matt: "That was the original plan to drop 'Tome III'. It's the reason I started talking to Nuclear Blast, so that we could package it properly. Being independent was very good for CRYPTOPSY with the self-titled. With 'The Book Of Suffering', I found that it was more difficult to communicate directly with our fans. So much work goes into being independent. It falls onto the members of the band unless we hire out, which we didn't do. It fell onto our shoulders. I wanted to finish the 'Book Of Suffering'. I wanted it to be something that was packaged and beautiful, interesting and complex. Being independent, the funds to do it, to ship it around the globe was difficult. When I started talking to Nuclear Blast, it was to finish 'The Book Of Suffering'. Then, some rights had been signed away of 'Tome I' and 'II' to Hammerheart in the Netherlands, so Nuclear Blast couldn't do it. Charles [Elliott, Nuclear Blast product manager] suggested we do a full-length, and here we are."
Blabbermouth: Christian has taken on the songwriting mantle in the band. How has that shaped CRYPTOPSY?
Matt: "Chris is one hundred percent in charge of writing as of 'Tome I'. Jon [Levasseur, guitar] came back for the self-titled. Chris was involved in two or three songs and brought in some riffs, but when Jon came back, he came back with a whole album in his head. He had to get it out on guitar. He's like that. He's a special individual who is very talented and creative. The self-titled was basically Jon dragging CRYPTOPSY back onto the right track. Chris has been in charge of composing since 'Tome I'."
Blabbermouth: How are you handling Chris's songs? Are they easy to digest vocally?
Matt: "He records us as well. He has an extremely musical mind. He definitely tore apart and destroyed everything I presented to him, all of my pre-production vocals. Chris loves to build things. In order to build it, he has to have something to destroy first. He tore apart everything. We worked together. It's probably my most musical performance on a CRYPTOPSY record. I'm a part of the music. The patterns are much more dynamic and musical. That's because Chris basically wrote them. [Laughs] I performed them."
Blabbermouth: Was that demoralizing?
Matt: "It could have been, but I trust him so highly. I know he knows what he's doing. I'm more mature now than when I would have put all the work in when I was 24 to have him destroy and tell me it sucks. I would have taken it wrong. [Laughs] I'm more mature now. Everyone has their role now. That's why CRYPTOPSY works so well now. It's the longest-running lineup of CRYPTOPSY. Not only I'm the longest-running vocalist, but this core group, the four of us, Flo, Oli [Pinard, bass], Chris and I, everyone has roles. Chris is a musical genius. We have to trust him, lean back and take it. He's gentle in his approach in telling me I suck. I've known him for so long and we joke so much."
Blabbermouth: Musically, it feels like "Gomorrah" touches upon every era of CRYPTOPSY except "The Unspoken King".
Matt: "With the new album, we wanted to honor the past while staying relevant. That was our goal. We wanted to honor each era of CRYPTOPSY. The hyper-melodic fast-picking parts, the lead lines of the early era of 'Blasphemy Made Flesh'. The groove elements of 'None So Vile'. The chaoticness of 'Whisper Supremacy', then the new little flavors, the darkness we're bringing in, the uncomfortable malaise into the music, it's something we brought. It was a focused attempt to bring malaise into extreme music. It's like when you finish 'Praise The Filth', we wanted you to feel uncomfortable and dirty."
Blabbermouth: We talked about you joining CRYPTOPSY in 2007, but what about the year after when you released "The Unspoken King"? The reactions were well-documented, but how did it affect you as the new singer?
Matt: "I remember going to work and it was pre-phone internet and going onto SMN News. There was a forum for all the bands. I clicked on CRYPTOPSY and it had leaks of 'Bemoan The Martyr'. Everyone was destroying it. I was disappointed, deeply disappointed. I thought this was my chance. Here's my opportunity and I've blown it. It was hard. Then we went straight on tour and that really affected my confidence in performing. It affected me psychologically. It took me a long time to recover from it. I feel like the real turning point for me onstage and having a good time was at Maryland Deathfest in 2017 when we did 'None So Vile' in its entirety. That was a turning point where I felt accepted, finally. Even to this point, I get a little nervous before going onstage. I'm like, 'Have fun.' The pandemic took it away from us for so long. Our last tour was in 2019 and here we are, four years later. There were moments like, 'Is it gone forever?' Now, it's about having fun."
Blabbermouth: There were three things at once happening with "The Unspoken King". It's hard to have fun when you put so much effort into an album that people aren't digging. Then you're the new guy. And, lastly, you're in a big band, which brings expectations.
Matt: "It was a lot of pressure. It was heavy. The band was super-supportive at the time, albeit the lineup was fragmented in all directions, which is why the album sounded the way it does. There were far too many cooks in the kitchen. There were no clear, cohesive visions of what the record should sound like. There was no cohesive vision. Now, CRYPTOPSY has a cohesive vision of what it needs to sound like in 2023."
Blabbermouth: You said it best. The album would have really heavy and brutal parts, then go into modern rock with clean singing.
Matt: "After Chris recorded my clean vocals, he'd have a disgusted look on his face as if he was smelling dogshit." [Laughs]
Blabbermouth: Do you regret the band's decision to publicly react to those who slagged you?
Matt: "We made a mistake. I think we made a mistake. Flo might disagree with me, but I say our reaction to the fans not liking it was the biggest problem. I think we were immature and doing that dinnertime intro that we used for a long time making fun of the internet warriors that was against us was an extremely bad approach. We should have been more mature. If it would happen now, I would definitely fight for the band to be far more respectful to people. Not everyone was respectful toward us, but we can always take the higher ground, but we were getting death threats, like 'I hope your bus crashes.'"
Blabbermouth: This was before Twitter and Facebook took off, too.
Matt: "It was on Myspace. I'd save the profile pages making fun of us, like 'Gay-topsy.' It was pointless, time-consuming things that people did to make fun of us."
Blabbermouth: Based on your tenure and the new album, it appears you've survived the worst.
Matt: "I had to get through it. If we had the material we do on 'As Gomorrah Burns', I wouldn't be able to do it in 2008 because I had to grow into being a death metal singer. I was a metalcore singer. I came from an IN FLAMES/KILLSWITCH ENGAGE worship band and I fell into death metal. It took me 16 years to lean into a new vocal approach, something completely different. I'm just having fun. It's just music. We should have fun. Who knows when this is going away?"