The Stygian Rose

Dark Descent
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Glimmers in the Underworld
02. Thunder (Perfect Mind)
03. Down in the Hollow
04. Heavy is the Crown of Bone
05. Scrying Orb
06. The Stygian Rose

Doom metal may be extremely niche on one hand, and in spite of the early genesis of all metal coming from the grand daddies of them all — BLACK SABBATH, of course — doom metal hasn't garnered the highest of profiles. CRYPT SERMON has been among the American cream of the crop in less pronounced ways than doom-inspired, commercially viable bands like HIGH ON FIRE and MASTODON, but they have made their mark artistically.

The talented epic doom band returns after a five-year absence with its third full-length album, "The Stygian Rose". The sextet's previous, pre-pandemic outing, "The Ruins of Fading Light", has been the band's crowning achievement, until now. Philadelphia's doom metal crew has returned in a big way, eclipsing its predecessor with a more organic and passionate flow.

Epic doom will invariably be grand in scope, a given considering a genre tag like "epic doom." The ever-present possibility of melodrama remains a hair away at nearly every moment here without ever going over the deep end. There's a certain, subtle restraint balancing with the self-awareness of the ambitious, inherent artistry.

"Glimmers in the Underworld" starts things off with a majestic surge that's enthusiastic and adventurous. Balancing out the massive riffs and guitar work, Brooks Wilson takes the helm with heartfelt, soaring vocals that paradoxically capture vulnerability in a way that's somehow confident and powerfully evident at the forefront of burly traditional metal. "Thunder (Perfect Mind)" follows with a more lumbering pace that's equally soulful. "Down in the Hollow", meanwhile, unfolds with a grandiosity and depth that's stacked in contrast to the more direct classic heavy metal riff that provides the song's backbone.

The album finds CRYPT SERMON willing to stick its neck out. Awkward stumbles would have been forgiven, but there aren't any lackluster points. While every nook and cranny of "The Stygian Rose" isn’t flawless, it is beautiful because it's genuine and free flowing.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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