Album Review: Crypta - Shades of Sorrow
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Following their exit from acclaimed Brazilian thrash act Nervosa, Drummer Luana Dametto and Bassist Ferdinanda Lira formed, in 2019, Crypta, a band that would see their style taken into more extreme and aggressive avenues than Nervosa had attempted. Unleashing their first album in 2021, Echoes Of The Soul was received extremely positively and showcased how Crypta may have more of a future ahead than simply being renowned as a band formed in Nervosa’s wake. Now, two years on, continuing their contract with Napalm Records, and incorporating new guitarist Jessica Falchi with her first album credit, Shades Of Sorrow is set to release just two years on. Let’s delve inside to see what Crypta have cooked up for us this time.
Opening their sophomore record with a genuinely Neo-classical piano piece that evidently took some effort to create, it’s a disarmingly gentle introduction that’s soon usurped by a commanding and thick death metal barrage that utilises the band’s signature, scathing vocal performance, and a soundscape that fills every corner this record dares to establish for us. If anything, I would argue that the band put more time into ensuring their sound completely envelops the record as opposed to their debut work. When that first track plays, and ensuing pieces follow suit, the band’s presence is utterly total for they render Shades Of Sorrow with no hope for escape. Whether it’s through vocals, piercing guitar solos or drums that crash down upon us as a ton of bricks, Crypta have refined their soundscape into something much denser. They’re no longer the new death metal act on the block and their soundscape proves as much.
Much of this boils down to how this record has been produced and subsequently mixed. The bass flowing through this record is massive, yet it’s curiously easy on the senses too. The bass guitar itself, when isolated, possesses thick strings that only demonstrate the tone the band were leaning towards here; the bass isn’t hiding away in some corner hoping for external discovery, it’s on full display for us to behold. That sense of full display is all the more prevalent as we view the album on the whole too; the riffs, licks and drumming feels to have this heightened sensibility where everything they throw at us feels amplified to the max which would have been lessened, had the bass not been as interwoven through the mix as it is herein. It’s also the bass that helps draw us in, binding us inside this record’s ferocity and then refusing to let us loose until the full fifty-plus minute runtime is done.
What did surprise me was how unlike this first record Crypta writ Shades Of Sorrow as. Naturally, ad a follow up album you want to give audiences what they’re familiar with, and what they’re expecting, but I still commend Crypta for branching out of their reckoned comfort zone for a change and introducing us to songwriting elements that aren’t necessarily fully within contemporary extreme metal. Many segments of this record harness songwriting that’s more technical and left-field than your typical blunt-force riff sequences. There are moments where the pacing relaxes and these more methodical, technical variations on songwriting occur which ultimately makes for a more interesting listen because, once we’ve experienced it early on, it throws the rest of the record into question. We no longer know what Crypta will throw at us; it’s a substantially more mature record in writing, helping to separate the band from the slew of burgeoning metal acts right now.
In addition to the greater versatility this record possesses, is the broadening horizons the band employed when writing and recording this album. You’re going to get melodic sequences where the guitar work assumes a cerebral quality in the veins of Death, you’ll receive blackened aesthetic within their songwriting that’s reminiscent of Dissection, and then you’ll revolve back round again to the crushing affair of riffs easily capable by bands like Demolition Hammer, Cannibal Corpse etc. The sheer diversity of riff styles and approaches to songwriting the band throw up is astounding, and they’re able to blend all these various elements together into a concoction that feel seamless and totally natural to what Crypta are all about. The inclusion of a mid-album instrumental, seeing that opening piano piece return, only furthers the band’s insistence on a maturer take on death metal songwriting; this album wasn’t an easy one and done thing, but a work that’s taken time and effort poured into it to see its benefits reaped.
In conclusion, Crypta’s second album is a really interesting bag that certainly furthers itself on from the debut release. Every track here has something unique and fresh to offer, whether it be technical, blackened or traditional death metal. I think some may be unsure by this album’s insistence to try something different and new, especially when Crypta’s debut work was so rooted in standard death metal. The band certainly deliver on atmosphere and a soundscape that completely weighs us down from start to finish, engaging us thoroughly, especially when the band do implement these left-field elements into their extreme metal at every point of the record. While I couldn’t say whether this album is the better of the two this release, I do personally prefer their first record. However, with that said, Shades Of Sorrow is a striking step forward that other bands often daren’t attempt until they’re well into their career, which makes this record a sublime attempt to differentiate Crypta from the host of newer bands out there.