Today, Cryptodira's debut LP, The Devil's Despair, is finally available. Washed Up was fortunate enough to snag a copy early for reviewing purposes, check below to read our review of the album, to see their latest music video, and the link to order your copy! The album release show is THIS FRIDAY (11/24/17) at Amityville Music Hall, DON'T MISS IT!
The Devil's Despair
Recorded at Graphic Nature Audio (Belleville, NJ)
Engineered/Produced by Steve Seid & Randy LeBouef
Mastered by Steve Seid
Review by Sean Ageman of Washed Up Media
Cryptodira is a four-piece progressive metal band hailing from the depths of Long Island. Over the past few years, they have built themselves quite the reputation locally through playing shows and releasing music independently. The music they play can be relentlessly heavy at times and at others beautiful and calm, but their unique approach to writing is what separates them from their peers. Cryptodira’s live shows are chaotic, engaging, and have without a doubt made them a favorite among the Long Island music scene. Their debut album, The Devil's Despair, is the perfect evidence to back this up.
After my first listen of The Devil's Despair I casually removed my headphones, took a deep breath, and smiled. I was ecstatic to hear how unique and progressive this album really is. Sure, it may fall for some of the genre's cliches, but Cryptodira's delivery and execution speak volumes in regards to their love for and ability to create progressive music. The band introduces themselves in a polite manner, an intro song that acts as a palate cleanser, ominously preparing the listener for the main course about to ensue. Track 2, "Constituted - Constitutum", kicks off with a guitar tone so raw it pulls the skin from bone, and then the band joins in, crushing everything in their path. The grooves are tight, the riffs are ferocious, and the vocals are so in your face you'll be wiping Scott and Mike's spit out of your eyes. These guys wear their influences on their sleeves, something they use to their advantage. Immediately there is a very apparent Converge influence, the way they use noise and obnoxiously heavy riffs are something I really enjoy. It's an element you don't hear as often these days when listening to progressive metal, and is something they use to their benefit throughout the album. It adds a nice gritty texture to their more aggressive sections. Cryptodira has an amazing ebb and flow within their writing style, and where this album may seem overly complex at times, at its core it is a very cohesive and a well-orchestrated piece of music.
The remaining tracks are written with the same extensive thought processes. You can tell they are always keeping the song as a whole in mind, never writing parts for the sake of filling up time or to selfishly display any one’s own talent. Fans of Between the Buried and Me, more specifically The Great Misdirect era, should also be satisfied with this release. But fear not, Cryptodira are in no way a watered down BTBAM clone, they do a very good job of carving out their own identity. Don't expect to hear any shredding guitar solos from Mike and Scott though, it is simply not the band's style. Vocal duties are split up between Mike Monaco and Scott Acquavella, who also comprise the guitar section. Their distinct voices, and by extension respective approaches to screaming, help keep things fresh on the vocal front, and adding Scott's cleans into the mix provides for the perfect dichotomy of good and evil. Track 6, "Longing Belonging", is a great showcase of Scott's clean prowess. The song has a very uneasy vibe, and for the majority is limited to just the guitar and vocals. Part of me wishes that the song wasn't as long as it is, but it undoubtedly serves its purpose. Scott has a unique tone to his voice, and it definitely deserves some time to shine.
The title track, "The Devil's Despair" is arguably the track that stands out the most on the album. This song is like a labyrinth, pulling the listener every which way as the seconds tick by. It starts with a back and forth between heavy and clean sections, and in the middle of the song we have the eye of the storm. The band brings us to a calm and peaceful resolve, only to erratically be pulled back into the technical lunacy. They really showcase their ability to play tight and complex sections on this one, while still maintaining a natural and organic feel. Much love to the rhythm section for keeping it together and driving the song forward here, and on many other points throughout the album. The song continues to take a few more twists and turns, before ending up at what is the album’s hardest hitting moment. The end of this track absolutely DESTROYS. The chaotic vocals, the feedback from the guitars, the immense groove from the rhythm section, all culminating to create something devastatingly heavy. And just when you think it can't get any more intense, Cryptodira dials back the tempo, giving way for a catastrophic beatdown. This last section is so overwhelmingly colossal it left me feeling like I was going to punch out the sunroof of my beat up 4-door sedan. The track abruptly ends, no resolve, dead air hanging, tension so thick you can feel it when you breathe. The perfect conclusion to the madness that the song so carefully constructed.
Cryptodira's drummer, Matt Taibi, is not only rhythmically proficient on all levels but also plays with a sense of confidence that can be felt as obviously as it’s heard. Blast beats? check. Tight double bass? check. Chops? check. Jazzy sections? check, and most importantly, the ability to play with taste and feel? check. There are many moments on this release where Matt is respectively in the spotlight. Although there aren't too many stand out moments from the bass, there is no denying Shane Kennedy's talent on the instrument. His playing is always in the pocket, and whether he's backing up the drums, or the guitars, his presence is always felt. Something else I'd like to point out is the album's production. Despite the amount going on in these songs, the album sounds incredibly pristine. The balance between all the instruments and the vocals is spot on, the dynamics sound great, nothing sounds muddy or suffocated. Everything sits in the mix nicely, enabling the listener to have the best experience possible when giving this album a spin.
The Devil's Despair is a total of 10 tracks and clocks in at 41 minutes and 51 seconds. If there is one thing most up and coming bands can agree on it's the significance of your first full-length release. It's your introduction to the world and is a crucial point in and bands journey. Most bands these days seem to be in such a rush to push out that first LP and don't always take the time needed for their band to marinate and develop into what they are fully capable of. Cryptodira has spent the past few years molding and perfecting their craft, allowing their band to mature. If you are a fan of heavy and progressive music and are looking to sink your teeth into something new, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Devil's Despair. This album not only left me wanting to hear more from them, but also has great replay value, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.