Whereas so many death metal bands would rent the filth-ridden, doom-driven, old school of animated basement rotting (and freshly skeletal) death metal circa 1989 as a costume of credibility during their formative years Wolfsburg, Germany based trio Cryptic Brood were born with the sadistic intentions of maintaining and aggrandizing ye olde heap of radioactive decay. This sort of spiritual successor to the single-note riffed primally doomed totentanz of early United States and Netherlands death metal legacies, long or short-lived, possesses the exact right punkish mania of their forbears to bear authenticity while raking in the benefits of ancient doom metal knowledge in tandem. For their sophomore full-length, ‘Outcome of Obnoxious Science’, Cryptic Brood chunk out an instantly gratifying death-metallic hypnosis that intends to inflict a poisonous, screaming mania upon the whirled-awake corpses of their afflicted.
In other words, they’ve followed up their debut album (‘Brain Eater‘, 2017) with greater conviction and without losing their patented grimy, malaise n’ jaundiced death/doom metal jog. Cryptic Brood weren’t always so affixed upon niche, though, they’d formed as youngsters in 2013 and eventually found their path beyond odes to Winter and Autopsy on earlier releases towards the more stripped down nastiness of Crimson Relic and the early thudding crunch of the Netherlands death/doom circa ’89-’91 with Sempiternal Deathreign, Mourning, and Delirium well represented. All of this, minus any Celtic Frost riff implications, is still in effect today and the major change from the first album to the second is an emphasis on somewhat atonal doom metal riffs that recall the transition between Dream Death and Penance in the late 80’s (see: ‘Living Truth‘, 1990); Harsher, less directional, and obsessed with a cruelly spastic thread of slow motion body-burning riffs it all feels a far cry from where I’d seen the band going back in 2015 when discovering them through their first EP (‘Wormhead‘, 2015); If only because the trend was moving towards the more Autopsy-forward style of groups like Undergang at the time.
‘Outcome of Obnoxious Science’ is exactly as barbaric and creep-tuned as all of my careful name-dropping would suggest and in that sense Cryptic Brood have nailed a niche-adjacent style with a reasonably effective signature sound. What more could you ask of a death metal band in 2019? A lot more, actually, and the first thing on my list is riffs — This is where I feel each release from the band excels in terms of gymnastic range but falters in terms of bringing repeatable (well, memorable) patterning to their fantastically elastic doom n’ death dynamic. How then does the infection persist? The same way a record like ‘Journey Into Mystery’ provides a battery of maddeningly circular compositions and reprisals so does Cryptic Brood use repetition of forms to structure a release where the beginning and the end blur together on repeat, loosening the leash but never disconnecting their tether. The full listen is a -ride-, a mangled thread that is recumbent cycle as much as it is a cyclone ripping through a valley, hitting lulls and sloping downward quickly beyond highs.
Though I’m losing interest in the ‘caveman’ death metal thing week-over-week I think it would be fair to set Cryptic Brood apart from that crowd. They’re operating with the right sort of authenticity in hand, enough that no part of ‘Outcome of Obnoxious Science’ feels like a self-conscious low-rent imitation of a classic band despite any earlier comparisons made. They’ve mopped up their act somewhat in terms of production this time around where the trio sound like a trio with the rotten-nuclear bass guitar tone notably set in exactly the right spot beneath the gnashing of the guitar. “Harrowing Hallucinations” and “Mantled With The Stench Of Death” offer this modulation of clarity up front while showcasing Cryptic Brood‘s strengthened balance of horror-howling death and chest-stomping doom-punk riffs.
“Haunted by Nightmarish Visions” is a fine example of a very basic death metal structure given just enough of a tweak to stand out… but not enough to create a ‘bold’ highlight on the tracklist. ‘Outcome of Obnoxious Science’ is full of these nuanced takes that pull influence just an arms reach beyond their classic death-and-doom core. I’m an easy mark for this sort of subtlety, though… I mean throw any band that sounds halfway like ‘Mental Funeral’ (or, Morbus Chron‘s ‘Sleepers in the Rift‘) and I’m dumping my wallet on the table before the first song ends. The only thing that keeps me from loving this album is the lack of a true ‘freakout’ moment — I’d like to see them take those grindcore-ish moments further, something like ‘O Agios Penthane‘, and collapse into a mush to offset the stiff-necked buzz of it all.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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