Something deeply familiar crawls across my face as I struggle to breathe upon waking. An insect or a wisp of string or feather tingles at the touch, a delayed ecstasy of swollen pressure. A streak of panic cuts through me from this dimension to the next. To be sure I am laying with my eyes turned down towards the dark, peering into the void that’d grow starry and increasingly painful as I focus on my unending waking. My shoulders push forward to impossible lengths beyond any human anatomical stretch; I shudder at the thought but no dirt, leaf, nor the air about me is stirred. To pry away from this damp and fixated place is yet impossible without the damnation of time affixed to my entrails, which provide the only sound I hear bubbling in the dark. I surely rot underneath. The dripping of a single stalactite an eternity away, falling within me echoes downward deeper-and-forever until I begin to feel my self receding into that void along with the water. Downwards I seep as the fungus and carrion-eaters feast and coat remains that would not accept death. May the skeleton crumble and dissolve soon so that I rest without torment in circulation with the dead of the Earth. Where my unknown end in the Helsinki, Finland death metal Krypts goes forever unknown a third ritual arrives to imbue this aching soul with the freedom that ‘Cadaver Circulation’ provides.
Seeming newcomers as they formed in 2008 the origins of Krypts traces as far back as 2003 as Helsinki area teenagers formed a melodic death/thrash influenced band (Self-Hate) that’d re-brand itself as The Beheading in 2006 releasing one last demo before dissolving. From that dissolution seeped a more serious and mature, some might say tasteful, approach to ancient death metal that was more in line with the surge of Helsinki area acts that’d form in 2007 such as Goretexx, Solothus, Swallowed, and the infamous Hooded Menace. There’d been old school death compatriots stirring between Stench of Decay and Ascended but each would prove fairly inactive despite promising demos and smaller releases. Krypts would begin as a duo in 2008 and quickly release their infamous, mind-rending ‘Open the Crypt’ (2009) demo soon after. At the time nobody was sure which of these young doom obsessed death metal bands would have any staying power beyond this fruitful phase of demo tapes and deeply formative independent EP releases but it was quickly clear that Krypts and Hooded Menace were among the most ‘ready’ to commit to style and composition but the much younger Krypts would take a few more years to develop. Second guitarist and co-songwriter Topi Siirtola (ex-Swallowed, ex-Desolator) would play a fairly key role in pushing their early compositions towards the ‘Krypts’ (2011) 7″ EP and some of those strongest moments would make it onto ‘Unending Degradation’ (2013) though Siirtola had left by 2012. In hindsight these were legendary formative releases and perhaps some of the most memorable modern Finnish ‘classic’ styled death metal of the last few decades. Krypts would beat out hundreds of other records for my best of 2013 list and prove me completely wrong when I’d said their EP wouldn’t lead to anything special back in 2011. I’ve been a die-hard fan of this Finnish death metal band since.
No two records are the same with Krypts but the two beyond the youthfully morose ‘Unending Degradation’ have featured guitarist Jukka Aho of the brutally underrated Gorephilia (formerly Goretexx) and his touch was perhaps most strongly felt on ‘Remnants of Expansion’ (2016). It was without question one of the finest masterpieces of atmospheric death metal created to date with a brief but powerful set of death/doom compositions that were so crafted and roiling in their expanse that it felt like truly cosmic doom were spoken through the language of death metal. It wasn’t just a step beyond the first Krypts album but it was an elevation that set the band in the realm of more experienced and heralded peers. That year I think the top spot went to Temisto but Krypts were in the number two spot for my album of the year and secured among my most favored modern death metal bands at that point. Drummer Otso Ukkonen would join Hooded Menace from 2017 ’til 2018 as Pekka Koskelo took his third hiatus from the hooded ones and soon enough it was time to focus on this third Krypts album. Some tragedy would strike Gorephilia as the vocalist committed suicide somewhat publically and though Aho would record guitars on ‘Cadaver Circulation’ he would leave to commit to Gorephilia full-time afterwards as the replacement vocalist. Though you might expect ‘Remnants of Expansion Part II’ because of Aho‘s input quickly turn off those expectations as this is equally subtle but also more traditional feeling death metal record with a heavy dose of psychotropic death/doom that’ll appeal to early Hooded Menace fans.
As I cracked away the bones and knifed chunks of rot from the carcass of the past I saw a fetid hallucination in the midst of ‘Cadaver Circulation’. The gaseous forms of ‘Remnants of Expansion’ met with the barreling wretched pile of ‘Unending Degradation’ riffs and though they did not merge entirely the stench was more than doubled. Brazen and high speed as its rolling start is, this third Krypts album is no mindless set of ‘old school’ motions but a corpse of fury pounding the Earth of its living with a cursed vibration of pure doom. The unearthly no longer provides escapism and all psychedelia comes crashing down into crawling fear and desperate loathing. Submerged pyre and steaming swamp gargle the thudding bones of humanity clean of their putrefaction to serve as mountains of crumbling spectacle in the cauldrons of Krypts, an entity born to enlighten of entropy that’d seen the cosmos and brought down ruin upon the feeble Earth in disgust. The enormity of their scorn is far beyond the malicious dread of the past, it’d encase our kind in a prison of death as hopelessly floating meat. I don’t hear the ancient coffin thunder of Rippikoulu or the rotten sledging of Abhorrence anymore but, a vague hint of Convulse‘s dark butchery in the gallop of “The Reek of Loss” and the aphotic churn of Desecresy if I strain every cell of my being but, no… This time it is Krypts that builds upon themselves and not in service to old masters nor modern trickery. In this third possession they arrive a death metal band fully realized and inspired to melt the corpse of the world and demolish the curse of existence.
The power of this album comes slow and unassuming, it is a grower that will envelope the senses and become bigger than could ever be perceived with a cursory glance. ‘Cadaver Circulation’ is a looming, living gift of atmospheric death, extreme doom and chest-bursting brutality that infests and spreads as it sinks into view. The first several listens were casual glimpses afforded by the first two pieces on the album which reintroduce Krypts to a now fully exploding death metal market with their hollow-eyed grinding signature Finnish death metal sound. ‘Sinking Transient Waters’ is a frontispiece, and almost too much to take in at first. The ringing ethereal end of the song quickly reminded me of where I stood with death metal past and present, and had me reminiscing in witness to history of this band’s development so far. “The Reek of Loss” feels like a return to the bounding old school release of ‘Unending Degradation’ even moreso than the opener and here I’d wondered if they were scouring old paths or presenting new more cumulative selves after two very different albums. With the Evoken “Antithesis of Light”-esque progression of “Echos Emanate Forms” the full vision of Krypts was made clear and the rest of the experience flowed naturally as the record carves deeper doomed passages on Side B. A wild streak of Crematory (Sweden) style riffs twist and gnarl “Mycelium” and well, before this becomes a track-by-track review I’ll make it clear that each piece is spectacularly different, thrilling to engage with, and above all else engorged with impossible heaviness.
Oftentimes I’ll rate an album with a ‘highest recommendation’ score implying that it is unquestionably worth buying and owning because it possesses either a timeless quality that ‘makes’ the experience for infinitely repeatable listens. In the case of ‘Cadaver Circulation’ I do feel like Krypts have actually created a ‘perfect’ album for my own tastes. The length of the full listen is perfect for one sitting at 38+ minutes, the distribution of death and death/doom metal elements are equitant, the mind-altering effect of the full listen is engaging, and the experience fills a void between the cryptic veil of old Evoken and the brutal punch of Dead Congregation. Sure, you could take some of that with a grain of salt because I have been a fan since Krypts‘ first demo released ten years ago but, I am not so invested in any fandom that I wouldn’t call a turd, a turd. These Finns have returned with a cumulative look at what appears to be their ‘signature’ sound in a fully developed state and for sure their most well-rounded record to date. Highest recommendation. For preview I’d suggest “The Reek of Loss” and “Echoes Emanate Forms” to get your torso in the door then “Mycelium” and “Sinking Transient Waters” if you’re pining for something heavier and more immediate. Give the full listen a chance either way, it’ll undoubtedly prove itself a grower.
Sink deeper into the abysmal. 5.0/5.0
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