It’s been a long, very busy week, and as a result, it’s been a little slow around these parts. There have been many affairs outside the metal world that have taken precedence this week, which does happen, but all of our efforts within the musical spectrum have been directed to making sure we got to this week’s end point and, arguably, the best metal record that’s come out so far this year.
You hear a lot about traditional doom and heavy metal and the reverence many of us pay to those areas. Bands like Candlemass, Sabbath, Dio, Iron Maiden, and Cathedral formed so much of the lexicon that we know, and their effects will be felt until the end of time. It’s refreshing when a newer band comes along that feeds into those ideals but whose members also have their own modernity and freshness to keep the metal world moving forward. We have that in abundance with Philly’s Crypt Sermon, whose debut record “Out of the Garden” is an absolute must-hear, must-have for anyone who relishes metal’s roots. There is elegant playing, royal heaviness, adventurous storytelling steeped in lore of many kinds, and a sense that what you’re hearing is a special, landmark release and definitely not something you’ll forgot tomorrow. Hell no. This thing stays with you, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve heard so far in this still quite young 2015.
Crypt Sermon is built on the back of rock-solid players including vocalist Brooks Wilson (also of Trenchrot, Grass), whose expressive singing and approach to his role makes him captivating and impossible to ignore; guitarists James Lipczynski (Labyrinthine) and Steve Jansson (Trenchrot, Grass, Infiltrator); bassist Will Mellor (Hivelords); and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga (Ashencult, etc.). Many of the songs thematically draw from Biblical stories (no, they’re not a Christian band, you dolt), and if you have familiarity with the text, you’ll recognize some of the plot points presented here. Metal bands have pulled from that ancient texts for years to add layers of adventure to their songs, and this band does it as well as any that have come before them.
“Temple Doors” opens the record as a riff lights the initial fire that eventually builds to full conflagration. The song has a classic doom feel, with the vocals clean but gruff, touching upon elements of mercy and healing. “Son of David, is that who you are?” Wilson calls as the track’s character, and the band surrounds that with a proper dose of tough chugging and glorious soloing. “Heavy Riders” just kills, and it’s an easy signature cut for the band. The guitars trudge hard, with doom bells ringing out, and a the simple but punchy chorus will stick in your head. The song later toughens up even more, with Wilson noting, “Darkness weighs heavy on our hearts,” as the track ends in a surge of darkness. “Byzantium” swelters and boils in a mid-tempo range, with sorrowful melodies bleeding and the drama applied in thick layers. It’s another where Wilson keeps the message basic, with a callback chorus you’ll anticipate, with tremendous leads taking the song to its conclusion. “Will of the Ancient Call” is murky but also aggressive, with the vocals driving the song ahead, especially with morbid lines such as, “Awaiting death’s final call, the sweet release,” with the back end catching fire and hammering hard.
“Into the Holy of Holies” is another big one, running nearly eight minutes and establishing itself as the band’s first true epic. There’s an ominous aura that surrounds this one at the start, as acoustic guitars find their way in. But then the track bursts apart, with a furious thrash assault breaking out that you might not see coming and more excellent guitar work that gets in your blood. The storytelling is dynamic and compelling, with Wilson calling, “There is no fire to give us light,” though the guitar work does its best to act as a torch to light the way. Just an excellent song. “The Master’s Bouquet” is the oddball of the bunch, leaning closer to King Diamond territory and feeding off Hank Williams’ country spiritual of nearly the same name (in fact, that song’s first section is spoken over the beginning of the song, and the chorus remains intact). The themes here are far darker, and way more hopeless, as Wilson observes the life-giving flowers dying and the music providing an excellently gruesome backing. The closing title cut is a fantastic curtain dropper, with slow-clubbing doom driving ahead, the music feeling dark and gritty, and Wilson noting, “There’s no light in paradise.” The guitar work later feels psychedelic and damaging, with Wilson dealing, “We can never atone for our crimes,” as the band lights up the night once again, ending the album on a mind-altering note.
Do yourself a favor and go out of your way to hear this record. Crypt Sermon’s arrival is a huge high point this winter, a burning beacon in what’s otherwise been a frosty, fog-thickened season. “Out of the Garden” is a stunner, an incredibly rewarding doom metal opus that will remind you why you fell in love with heavy metal in the first place.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CryptSermon
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/