KRYPTOGRAF – The Eldorado Spell (2022)REVIEW

Cohesion is the bigger-picture accomplishment to be witnessed here on ‘The Eldorado Spell‘, wherein the myriad ideas and high enthusiasm of Bergen-based heavy rock quartet Kryptograf successfully gel unto redeeming umbrella of sugar-skulled style. What was once a keen jam of desert-rocked 90’s fuzz and 70’s proto-doomed kicks now finds a singular, darkest heart to pull from. Morbid prose and ‘retro’-heavy psych timbre informing their doubly tuneful psychedelic doom/rock sound as they move from time-stamped references toward timelessly appealing unholy psychedelia.

As suggested, the 2019 formed and ready-kicking group released their debut (‘Kryptograf‘, 2020) with its green roots showing, a more directly desert rock influenced sound that’d been somewhat drowned in guitar pedal stew, rescinded vocals and a style that’d flailed between several stylistic approaches that’d never come together as the running order expressed. Sky-kickin’ jams like “Seven”, stoner doom fuzz crawls and some throwback blues rock pieces all felt great in motion but hadn’t amounted to a defined modus for Kryptograf right out the gate. Nothing wrong with any of that, you’d at least’ve wanted to see the band live after hearing it, but we’d gotten the usual sort of stoner/psych-doom debut out of ’em. ‘The Eldorado Spell‘ provides strong contrast to those beginnings, which is remarkable for the songs themselves but also the space of about a year or so beyond separating the debut’s release and this great cinching up their gig into something serious. It isn’t hotly original but I guarantee folk will find the songcraft charming and the performances remarkably developed in such a short period of time.

You get it, then. ‘The Eldorado Spell‘ is an improvement and from my perspective a leap ahead in most every respect wherein Kryptograf are ‘ready at the point of oozing style. Er, granted not a particularly original one, they’re still playing a regional Scandinavian sort of ‘retro’-heavy psychedelic rock equivalent with lighter hints of California by way of Sweden-inherited desert rock excess but this time their fuzz-o-rama touches upon psychedelic doom metal and stoner/doom metal even more without losing that mid-70’s soil underneath its fingernails. Direct comparisons shouldn’t be a stretch, opener “Asphodel” should ring in ear in semblance of the best from early Witchcraft (Sweden) and the album soon shows a more expressive array of climes that’ll perk the ears of Dunbarrow, Kadavar and Deadbeats-era Uncle Acid fandom — Ancient sounds with a bell-bottomed kick and a red-eyed demonic stare, always raising both eyebrows when catching eye contact. Listeners who focus on songwriting and not basic stylistic forms will key into what makes this record special up front, otherwise it’ll be easily categorized on the prime heavy psych/doom rock ratio available.

Picking a few highlights from the lot here won’t necessarily convey the album’s design, a trip that finds a way to combine the flow of many faucets into a very classic 70’s heavy metal record form — Daytripping at the end of the world on Side A, lost and becoming a warrior of dark magic on Side B. Early single “Cosmic Suicide” is well-picked here as Kryptograf‘s dual guitar setup breaks into one of the bigger ear tugging riffs on the record, a steady chunked groove that releases into brilliant chorus, pretty sure I even hear a cowbell getting bopped in the last thirty seconds. There is a bit of mastery there that isn’t too self-aware, a level of detail that lands for the sake of the band feeling it rather than stretching for ideas. The mid-70’s Sabbath trundle features strongest on those first four songs and, well, this justifies the Witchcraft comparison quite a bit if you’ve some tunnel vision for that sound. “Lucifer’s Hand” hits its home best that ‘The Eldorado Spell‘ is capable of balancing familiar sounds with their own quickly developing voice, and it’ll be one of several songs to convince psychedelic doom metal heads to stick around for the second half.

If there is a ‘this band in a nutshell’ moment on the album it is probably the combination of the title track’s shuffling riffs and psych-breakouts set side by side with the doomed fuzzgate breach of “The Spiral”, a big stoner/doom buzz-in that eventually shakes its leg out in a flurry of directly mid-70’s heavy psych riffs. If you weren’t feeling the implication of doom on the record yet, they’ve sort of left the heavier dread of the album on this side. The last few songs offer up a few surprises and the other single “The Well” closes things out with a bang but you’ve gotten the right impression, Kryptograf have made the transition from a band capable of melding many styles together into an entertaining record and now begin to craft truly memorable songs from that alchemy, magnetic results for my own taste. From my perspective this is a record that is remarkable enough in the moment to enjoy but also strong enough momentum that it lands as one to grow on, a show of capability that now demands an even more distinct and personal sound. I’ve probably over-listened to it at this point, if that is any indication of my endorsement. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (76/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:The Eldorado Spell
LABEL(S):Apollon Records
RELEASE DATE:February 25th, 2022

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