As Gomorrah Burns

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Lascivious Undivine
02. In Abeyance
03. Godless Deceiver
04. Ill Ender
05. Flayed The Swine
06. The Righteous Lost
07. Obeisant
08. Praise The Filth

35 years is a long time, even in death metal, and CRYPTOPSY have lived a few lives during that time. At first, with drummer Flo Mounier as their not-so-secret weapon, they appeared to be the last word in brutality. 1996's "None So Vile" is still a benchmark for nauseating heaviness, regardless of how much faster and nastier the genre has since become.

By the end of the '90s, the Canadians had morphed into a precision-tooled machine, as showcased most effectively on "…And Then You'll Beg" (2000). Five years later, with original frontman Lord Worm back in the fold, they made "Once Was Not": one of the most filthy and unfathomable death metal records of the century so far. In 2008, they risked alienating a large chunk of their fan base with "The Unspoken King": an album where, Satan forbid, death metal collided with DEFTONES-like alt-vibes, thus causing a rip in the metallic space-time continuum (or something along those lines). Undeterred, CRYPTOPSY marched forward, with absurdly versatile vocalist Matt McGachy leading the charge, and every subsequent release has been (a) mind-wrenchingly brutal, and (b) as creative as you might expect from a band with such a restless but fruitful past. Last heard at full pelt on 2018's "The Book Of Suffering – Tome II" EP, Mounier's crew are legends with little to prove at this point. "As Gomorrah Burns" tells a different story.

When you listen to extreme metal on a daily basis, the likelihood that any band will wrench the breath from your lungs through sheer visceral force becomes vanishingly thin. CRYPTOPSY's eighth full-length redresses the balance with levels of untamed venom that will make people wonder whether Flo Mounier (and the poor bastards that have to keep up with him) is a mortal man. Many death metal bands can blast and churn with precision and power, but few sound as righteously berserk as this. It's not just Mounier's hyper-speed drumming, which has more swing than a seafront gallows, but also the way guitars, bass and vocals lock so tightly into his mad, percussive maelstrom.

Always a great death metal band first and foremost, CRYPTOPSY's in-built subversive streak is now an asset. On the instant assault of "Lascivious Undivine", they master several dizzying changes of pace, while somehow managing to groove and grind with equal intensity. Songs like "In Abeyance" and "Flayed The Swine" cram a startling number of twists and turns into their succinct durations, as these wise veterans glide through the gears, harnessing imperious '90s-tinged grandeur, all-out, jugular-bound blasting and those eccentric structural maneuvers that made early classics like "Slit Your Guts" and "Open Face Surgery" standout as pinnacles of brutal wrongness. Nearly every second of "As Gomorrah Burns" will leave a scar, but it's the more measured destruction of the closing "Praise The Filth" that will linger longest in the memory. Like some lost classic from the golden age of technical death metal but fed through some perverse industrial machine that appears to be a cross between a meatgrinder and a kaleidoscope, it hits every conventional mark for intensity, precision and doomed-out melodrama, while slamming home the obvious truth that only a band as determinedly singular as CRYPTOPSY could pull this off.

Author: Dom Lawson
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