01. The Aftermath 02. Dark Clouds 03. Poisonous Apathy 04. The Outsider 05. Stronghold 06. The Other Side of Anger 07. The Limbo 08. Trial of Traitors 09. Lullaby for The Forsaken 10. Agents of Chao 11. Lift the Blindfold 12. Lord of Ruins 13. The Closure
Barely two years into their existence, CRYPTA already sounded like a finished, old-school death metal article. The Brazilians' 2021 debut album, "Echoes of the Soul", was an exhilarating revelation when it came out with rather less fanfare than it arguably deserved. With a sound that tapped into the feral, loose-limbed savagery of POSSESSED and (early) DEATH, but with a ferocious thrash edge and occasional shades of black, it was a smart and sincere contribution to the cause. It also sounded like the work of gnarled veterans, rather than four virtuoso women from São Paolo. "Shades of Sorrow" has a lot to live up to as a result, but "Echoes…" was so convincing that more of the same would be more than enough.
Fortunately, CRYPTA are more ambitious than that. While retaining all the wildness, swagger and spite that made the debut so exciting, "Shades of Sorrow" goes darker and deeper, as the band's blend of death, black and thrash metal continues to evolve and mutate.
After a mild spooking courtesy of the ubiquitous, haunted house instrumental intro, "Dark Clouds" begins at a dizzying pace and with startling intensity. With strong echoes of HOLY MOSES's incensed, tech-tinged attack, but way more blasphemous, CRYPTA clearly have amazing inter-band chemistry and focused, white-knuckle energy pours from every riff and lobotomized blast. Everything also sounds thrillingly (a)live, with no discernible concessions to technology, beyond the marauding, vivid fullness of Augusto Lopes's production.
On the grandiose onslaught of "Poisonous Apathy", frontwoman Fernanda Lira's versatile armory of growls and shrieks takes center stage, amid a gruesome, slow-paced tirade with melo-death trimmings. And to further confirm CRYPTA's supreme adaptability, "The Outsider" whips up an icy storm of blackened majesty, with drummer Luana Demetto hammering away like Steve Asheim on the first DEICIDE album, and riffs that positively reek of a Norwegian winter. In contrast, "Stronghold" is a barbaric, deathly horror show, with anthemic melodies and a trippy detour into unholy doom-gaze that never quite evolves as expected; while "The Other Side of Anger" is a direct and destructive slab of old-school purity that wields its melancholy undertone like a spiked bat.
The second half of "Shades of Sorrow" very nearly matches the first. CRYPTA are audibly surfing on waves of inspiration and adrenalin at all times, from the malicious, VADER-like chug 'n' flay of "Trial of Traitors" to the frosty juggernaut of the closing "Lord of Ruins", which takes in everything from US power metal riffing to gothic theatrics, without losing a milligram of conviction.
There are countless reasons to be excited about the state of death metal in 2023. CRYPTA are right up there with the best of them, and "Shades of Sorrow" is the top-tier, terrifying proof.
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