June 4, 2024

It is more and more often in recent years when I think of the void the greats will leave after ceasing to exist – bands like Maiden, Sabbath, Priest, Candlemass, W.A.S.P. These are titans in our beloved genre whose stature and respect from fans will be really hard to reach by any newcomer. However, there are new bands which actually show so much talent and perspective that things start to look just a little bit brighter for the future. One such band is Philadelphia’s Crypt Sermon, who have been walking the fine line between classic heavy metal and doom since 2013. Both of their full lengths so far, Out Of The Garden (2015) and The Ruins Of Fading Light (2019), impressed me with some fantastic doom metal, with just the right amount of heavy metal mid-tempo riffs and melodies to spice up the gloom and darkness. Even their cover artwork so far was a direct nod to Candlemass’ Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, which is a nice attention to detail indeed.

Crypt Sermon consists of a core of three musicians: Brooks Wilson (vocals), Enrique Sagarnaga (drums) and Steve Jansson (guitars). This founding trio has been joined by bassist Matt Knox in 2016, guitarist Frank Chin in 2019 and keyboard player Tanner Anderson, who is the band’s newest member, joining two years ago. The Stygian Rose is coming out almost five years after The Ruins… and was one of the albums I awaited with most anticipation this year.

The first thing to be noticed is the much darker and more mysterious-looking cover artwork, still very beautiful and with great details to gaze and investigate into. What’s even more amazing is the fact that it was drawn (as well as the ones for the previous two albums) by vocalist Brooks Wilson, who obviously shows more than a few talents already. Glimmers In The Underworld opens proceedings with an absolutely crushing sound and an oppressive atmosphere, showing two immediate new aces up the band’s “sleeves”. One is the stellar production of Arthur Rizk, who also produced the two previous albums, but this time the album sounds absolutely huge, and the second is the unbelievably positive effect Tanner’s keyboards have had on beefing-up Crypt Sermon’s sound. The keys are not in any way dominant, they are very subtle, but they complement the guitar melodies in a clever and masterful way, making the songs blossom like ….hm….. a Stygyan Rose? Ha! Well, puns aside – listen to these riffs by Jansson and Chin – there’s a feeling of otherworldliness and desperation all over, boosted even more than the once more stellar vocals by Wilson.

Thunder (Perfect Mind) and Down In The Hollow are two songs which put on display one more thing that elevates this new album high above everything I’ve heard recently in the doom genre – the progressive, out-of-the-box crafting and structuring of the songs. We are absolutely not talking of a verse-pre-chorus-verse-chorus here, but songs which sometimes stray in a totally unexpected direction before gently guiding you back towards the main melody line or an absolutely epic chorus. The musical picture is colored even more densely by the audible bass and one more star of the show, which is drummer Sagarnaga. What he demonstrates on the aforementioned Down In The Hollow or in Heavy Is The Crown Of Bone is a really inventive, engaged drumming, reminding me of what Brann Dailor does to the Mastodon songs. Scrying Orb is probably the doomiest, most melancholic song of the bunch, with beautiful vocals and guitar solos, before a culmination into a heavier-than-time chorus. Brilliant! The title track makes eleven minutes flow by like three, building and building upon layer after layer of amazing melodies and riffs, obliterating guitar solos at 5:30 and at the end of the song and so much atmosphere and tension.

The Stygian Rose is a metal masterpiece, nothing less, and Crypt Sermon is one of the very few bands capable of carrying the torch from the old giants into the next decades, with inspiration, instrumental capability and mastering the magic of crafting amazing, timeless songs. Check these guys out, because you will find it hard to listen to anything better this year.

10/10


Crypt Sermon in Facebook

The Stygian Rose is out on June 14th via Dark Descent Records and can (or should I say must?) be ordered from HERE