Forged as an alliance between true-thrashing minds who’d spent their formative years honing the intensity of their craft, the rise of Ancient Crypts appeared all the more devoutly underground, rotten and brutally ‘old school’ in the best traditions of Chilean death metal. Vocalist/guitarist Alejandro Cruz aka Nyarlathotep would strike harder into the world of death metal after Nuklear Strike split-up around 2011 or so, briefly joining Unaussprechlichen Kulten as a guitarist (see: ‘Lucifer Poseidon Cthulhu‘) while aligning with drummer Skullfukk who’d been a close ally within extreme thrashers Invincible Force. Their shared love for classic thrash and ancient extreme metal was a sign of good taste and it was clear where their allegiances were set on the first demo from the band (‘Devoured By Serpents‘, 2013). Without any real investment, the bulk of casual writing about that demo didn’t dig deep into the rhythms back in 2013, proclaiming it a point of worship and lazily extending a finger towards Asphyx‘ debut for inspiration. It was devout work in the tradition of the ancients but ‘Devoured by Serpents’ was far more special than that in a time where a lot of retro death was insufferably mediocre compared to today, Ancient Crypts were birthed at a high standard. So, why has it been a seven year wait for their first proper ‘official’ EP release? Nothing extreme, a couple years spent working with Atomicide and then a couple of years preparing for ‘Inhaling the Fumes of a Burning Carcass’, an impressive evolutionary mutation for the band.
The most pronounced point of change that I’d key into first came with the increasing dynamic value of Ancient Crypts‘ songwriting, now less informed by muscle memory and clearly written for two guitars from the start. The band now includes second guitarist Dead Goat (Invincible Force, Apokryphus) in the process and this becomes more obvious in the slower sections where the two guitarists harmonize in the gnarliest way possible. ‘Inhaling the Fumes of a Burning Carcass’ still relates to the attack of Asphyx‘ first two albums, especially the early moments of ‘Last One on Earth‘, but this only applies to the earlier moments on the EP where a cleaner analog might be Morgoth‘s ‘Curse’ with a few more nods to harried ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ influenced sections. “Amorphous Simphony of Accursed Flutes” immediately rushes into a familiar set of death-thrashing riffs that say “We’re back and heavier…”, and different in a good way, much more polished and not so buried by the demo quality of uh, their demo.
“Sarcophagidaes” shifts gears somewhat, employing guitar techniques that’d direct my willing ear towards Ataraxy‘s first album, ‘Revelation of the Ethereal‘ where hints of infernal death metal, such as Incantation and ‘Dawn of Possession’-era Immolation, compress in brutal harmony with the urgency of ‘The Rack’. Excoriate were doing something somewhat similar before they folded, putting an evil and more atmospheric lean upon the structural ballast of early Netherlands death metal style but I’d say Ancient Crypts stand out on this new EP for their ability to swing effortlessly between death/doom, thrashing death, and some darker atmospheric moments. This relates the band’s evolution indirectly to compatriots like Oraculum and Invocation more than a band like Evoked, despite closely shared influences and with no dips into black/death territory along the way. The title track is the killer here, a seven minute death/doom piece that reaches for Vanhelgd levels of graceful morbidity that express as violent possession. This is where I began to pay closer attention to the guitar work in particular, a meaningful extension of the ideas explored on the title track for ‘Devoured by Serpents’ and a sort of ‘full circle’ moment for me as a listener, the payoff for waiting seven years could be summed up within those seven minutes. Sure, this band is still just for the true death metal heads, the occult death mutants, and the deep underground fiends but I definitely appreciate the growth and refinement of Ancient Crypts‘ already great work on this fine EP. High recommendation.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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