Death metal legends Cryptopsy take over Oddbody’s

Photo: Cryptopsy’s (l-r) Matt McGachy, Oil Pinard, Chris Donaldson, and Flo Mounier swarm Oddbody’s

By Gary Spencer

When one thinks about the birth and history of death metal, any knowledgeable metalhead thinks of the United States of America. San Francisco quartet Possessed laid the groundwork with 1985’s Seven Churches, an album often accredited by fans and historians as the first full-fledged death metal record. Floridian legends such as Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Obituary built from the blueprint mapped by that landmark recording.

When discussing the pioneers of the first wave of death metal in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one band that often gets overlooked is the Canadian group Cryptopsy. Originally formed in Montreal, Quebec, under the name Necrosis in 1988, the band started out much in the same way as its American peers with similar musical influences.

“The beginning sound was a mix of Bay Area thrash, Voivod, and death metal—very interesting stuff to say the least,” says longtime Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier. “As the band started changing and gravitating towards more of a death metal approach we changed the name to Cryptopsy.”

Beginning with 1994’s Blasphemy Made Flesh, Cryptopsy would go on to release several highly influential albums that fit with the catalogues of their American counterparts but also showed signs of innovation in death metal, which often goes unaccredited. While basing their sound on ’80s thrash metal, Cryptopsy and their American compadres changed the pace, infusing elements of doom metal that gave way to musical passages of alternately clubbing eardrums with shredded guitar notes and blast beats, and then slowing to a crawl with ominous, down-tuned, bent guitar tones—a sonic metaphor for the apocalypse. But one thing that sets Cryptopsy apart from its contemporaries is its  incorporation of highly technical musicianship where the tempos, time signatures, and riffs could start and stop on the flip of a dime, leaving listeners with a sense of brutality and hysteria. With these added attributes, Cryptopsy has gone on to quietly influence the next generation of death metal purveyors as founding fathers of the “brutal death metal” and “technical death metal” subgenres.

“The sound is heavy, brutal, fast, and aggressive,” Mounier explains. “The playing is complex with lots of tempo variations and changes. The vocals are harsh and loud! To the untrained ear, this can sound very chaotic. It’s not music for the masses, and it certainly isn’t happy. I would venture to say, though, that the band strives for memorable and catchy parts, even if they’re played only once in a song and for the duration of five seconds!”

And much like the death metal bands they came up with and those that have followed them, Cryptopsy’s lyrics have leaned toward dark subject matter: mortality, horror, gore, mutilation, insanity, murder—just like the death metal doctor ordered. But according to Mournier, they have shifted slightly with the words that accompany their musical blasphemies while still appealing to similar sensibilities.

“The new lyrical stance is more on life in general, world issues or happenings and their correlation to death,” he says. “This is metal—we’re not going to write about flowers and happiness, unless it relates to the happiness of decadence or the flowers on a casket.”

In the vein of change, the band has also eschewed record labels and issued its first independent recording, The Book of Suffering (Tome 1) in 2015. It is the first in a series of similarly themed EPs the band will create for the foreseeable future.

“We really had the urge to come up with new material fast, so it seemed like the EP thing was the right choice for that,” Mounier explains. “From year to year ideas change, so in starting the writing and creation process we thought that a series of these [EPs] could be exciting and fresh.”

The band has almost finished writing the next EP and hopes to return to the studio before the end of 2017.

The desire to keep things exciting and fresh, plus the pure catharsis of performing heavy music that keeps circle pits moving, have been essential elements of Cryptopsy’s continued presence on the death metal scene 25 years after making the first album.

“Our love for creation is high, and the challenge of playing extreme metal is what has kept us present throughout these years,” Mounier says. “We’re known to be more brutal live than on record—lots of movement and cool musicianship to behold. Being behind our instruments, creating new things, and the live experience all thrill us. There’s been lots of blood, beer, broken bones, lost members, laughs, and fights on tour, but as long as we can physically keep doing this we will!”

Cryptopsy headlines the Devastation on the Nation Tour Saturday, June 10 at Oddbody’s, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. in Dayton. Rivers of Nihil, Visceral Disgorge, Seeker, and Gloom are also on the bill. Show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance. For more information, please visit Cryptopsy.ca and Oddbodys.com.

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Gary Spencer
Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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