Every year there are incredible records that come out that you’re certain are going to stick with you well beyond the 12 months in which you’re in. They’re kind of tougher to mine now with so damn much music out there which, again, isn’t really a complaint. But they’re out there, and the ones that are meant to be a part of your mental fabric likely will find their way.
A couple months back, Crypt Sermon’s heavily anticipated second record “The Ruins of Fading Light” arrived in my inbox, and I don’t think there’s been a week that has passed since where I haven’t visited with it at least once. Hopes already were high after their great debut “Out of the Garden” landed four years ago, but the results here on this 10-track opus are beyond expectations, an album so good that it already feels like a classic. Their epic doom falls into the league of bands such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, and even Dio-era Black Sabbath and Fates Warning (I know they’re not a doom band…), and their Biblically influenced storytelling centered on life, loss, and limits of faith as well as their absolute command of their style are astonishing. It also should be noted that singer Brooks Wilson is an absolute revelation here. As good as he was on their debut, he’s absolute world league here, one of the best voices in metal now and one of the record’s main events. The rest of the band—guitarists Steve Jannson and James Lipczynski, bassist Frank Chin, and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga—are stellar as fuck as well as they hammer these epics over the wall, making for one of metal’s more magical releases of the year.
“The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)” starts with eerie sounds and hoofs pounding the ground before the song opens in full, trudging away. “For every kink in our armor there is a notch in my hilt,” Wilson declares, before going into a simple chorus that’s easy to call back and is infectious. A huge solo kicks out as Wilson wails, “Burn!” with the track coming to a rousing end. “Key of Solomon” has a great riff and a pace that chews bone with Wilson in command, calling about “signs and sigils painted on the floor.” Another great chorus strikes, which is another that gets into your chest, as the guitars go off and spill into chaos, bringing the track to a burning end. “Our Reverend’s Grave” is punchy as hell with Wilson wailing, “Come down, Moses, the mountain’s on fire,” as the smoke spreads and chokes. The ground quakes as Wilson points out, “At the end of the life, there’s nothing,” as cold guitars flow, the title is called repeatedly, and the track ruptures to the surface. “Epochal Vestiges” is the first of a trio of interludes, as keys rush feeling like a film score, as bells and chimes lead to “Christ is Dead,” which is a stone-cold classic, and the fucking record isn’t even physically out yet. Everything about the song is massive, from the guitars to the singing to the drama, and the chorus absolutely puts it over the top, with Wilson wailing, “I’ll stare into the eyes of the devil until I know we’re truly free.” Just an awesome cut, one of the best of the entire year.
“The Snake Handler” runs 9:11, the longest song on the album, as guitars slither dangerously before the pace chugs and charges. The singing is a little grittier on this storyteller, as Wilson calls, “We’ll take up stakes with poison in our veins,” and amazing lead guitar work rips things apart a little more. The guitars work trades off and later joins up, with the song bursting at the seams at the end. “Oath of Exile” is an interlude cut built with rain showers and guitar smears, and that leads into another mini-track “Enslave the Heathens” that uses clips from Orson Welles’ version of “Macbeth,” quiet flutes, and hand drumming. “Beneath The Torchfire Glare” has a grimy start with the song sounding like mid-90s Metallica (I don’t mean that in a bad way), as Wilson snarls, “I bring your disaster, become your master.” The tracks keeps getting filthier, a song of domination and strength, powered by a strong chorus that’s easy to keep in your brain. The track is steamy and fluid, leaking grease as it reaches its end. Closer “The Ruins of Fading Light” is a disarming ballad that plays like a warning to life’s dangerous twists and turns. “Life is a foolish game we play, o, child,” Wilson warns, as the track delves deeper into life, loss, and failure. Things crescendo into mountainous madness, as Wilson wails, “No heaven, just hell in ruins of fate and light,” before the track explodes to a finish.
Doom metal is awash in great bands, but Crypt Sermon have to be considered at the top of that pile, even with just two records under their belts. “The Ruins of Fading Light” in an unbelievable album, one of the best of the year, and a collection that would be an all-time milestone if it was in circulation for 30 years or so. But this is a modern gem, an album that is packed front to back with glorious thunder that strikes over and over and leaves you for dead.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CryptSermon/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/