CRYPT MONARCH – The Necronaut (2021)REVIEW

The blunt roar and heat-excited ringing of an overworked and under-maintained amplifier fizzling under the pressure of fuzz and whatever outrageous, claustrophobia-inducing growl thee guitarist can manage via stomped-on effects is an separate extreme, a sub-genre of anti-tone far beyond the genius of the Sabbath groove. In congress with the heavily impaired, sausage-fingered drawl of slow-motion blues the “horror through the walls” of ancient garage-jammed doom metal has had its stupid fangs in my neck since, I dunno, somewhere in between ‘Master of Reality’ releasing on CD and the live record from Saint Vitus. As we push to all manner of extremes and warped noodling to exhaust the generative possibilities it only sinks in deeper that doom metal is by design a living, breathing act of syncopation atop the very bones of what tradition it is birthed from and there is no greater test of a relatively unknown band than to simplify the wrack to a minimal, droning purity. Reveal all of the raw guts hanging out, strip thy self of studio skin and there it becomes less a sport of amplifier worship and more a profound challenge of movement — sweaty marijuana-enhanced action dependent on songwriting -and- swagger. San José, Costa Rica-based “necromantik” stoner doom metal trio Crypt Monarch introduce themselves as exactly this sort of honest, raw and rugged real-time entity on their debut full-length ‘The Necronaut‘ a three act trip through this jammed-out and weathered artform detailing a jilted king’s zombie reprisal and vengeance.

Formed in mid-2020 from folks you’ll recognize from Age of the Wolf, Dilapidated Mechanism, Redhead Match and VoidOath the trio here isn’t an unexpected collaboration in terms of the artists involved but ‘The Necronaut’ is a far more traditional take on stoner/doom metal than anything else they’ve put out in various other projects. The gist of their sound is early 90’s Sleep and the raw sort of Black Bow Records kind of sound, near the point of speaker explosion but without all of the bells and whistles that might imply otherwise. The vocals are distant and usually layered for dimensional effect, one vocalist at the pulpit with a distorted bass in hand and another a few feet back with a deeper bellow cutting through. If we zip over to ‘Jerusalem’ part three or so, that is basically the Crypt Monarch sound in terms of vocal placement, ritualistic presentation, and hazed over sound design. That said the lead guitars provide quite a lot of additional shaping and interest to these otherwise repetitive, drone-engrossed pieces which average 10-15 minutes each. Slow, easy motion is pervasive here and this pacing is likely going to be a virtue for the stoner/doom crowd but probably a bit plain if you dabble in traditional doom metal for its inventive side.

The charm of ‘The Necronaut’ is its consistency in motion and the atmosphere created therein, an uncomplicated recording when viewed in-depth or surface deep which focuses on its narrative half as much as it does on this exemplar “live in studio” sounding psychedelic doom metal jam. I showed up for the fuzzy, dungeon-level sound and stuck around for the mystique of their necro-minded prose and the result is all about an easy, cryptic vibe that isn’t such a profound crater in mind. “Morning Star Through Skull” is the showpiece here, a well built and dare I say finessed long-form opening that breaks out around the ~4:20 minute mark into an ‘Busse Woods’-level minute long solo that gives us just a hint of Acid King even if they struggle out of the moment. From there we see not only the elder generation of stoner/doom re-envisioned but some hints of the mid-to-late 2000’s breed of post-‘Dopethrone’ iteration with breaks into lumbering solo basslines and some moderate use of leads to counter the drone of the main riff as it persists through several long verses. Though it’d be easy to view ‘The Necronaut’ as a modulation of the ancients, there is an ideal balance of the “old ways” meeting up with a new consciousness which is both idyllic in its nostalgia and revisionist in slicing away the unthinking excess of olde and shaping an experience that is intent on not getting lost within its easygoing jam.

It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to peck away at the innards here, again, they’re all hanging out and with plenty of precedence within the niche. This leaves me loving the sound, loving the story but still unwilling to soapbox Crypt Monarch‘s gig beyond a prime example of bringing a confident necro-swagger to an classic stoner/doom metal template. Wouldn’t change a thing and probably wouldn’t ever be totally blown away, either. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:The Necronaut
LABEL(S):Electric Valley Records
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Stoner/Doom Metal

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