Hall of Fame Countdown: Cryptopsy’s None So Vile

At the turn of the millennium, some publications were hailing Nile as the band capable of saving death metal from itself.  Sure, the South Carolinian tomb raiders made some head-turning records, but in the mid-90’s, Cryptopsy were helping to birth a scene hundreds of miles northward, and they hardly needed saving (uh… until later…).  In 1996, Cryptopsy bled out None So Vile, an album brimming with technical ability that nevertheless always feels a half-second away from fraying, fragmenting and falling apart.  That energy, along with all the musical acumen on display, made sure that None So Vile wound up in our Hall of Fame four years ago – the last time we saw Lamb of God on our cover.

Now that drummer Flo Mounier and his band are back in extreme metal’s good graces with 2012’s self-titled crusher and the opening of their Book of Suffering series this year, it seems to be a good time to look back at one of the great death metal records and rank the songs against themselves… since it hardly seems fair to rank them against anything else.  If you don’t like it, go ahead, run home and cry to Mama!

8.  “Lichmistress”

The death belch in the song’s first minute feels a bit out of place, given the general lyrical bent of the album and the gore-grind origins of that particular tactic.  The track’s comparative brevity, though, alongside the pinched string squeals and the rest of the song’s sonic brew serve as a suggestion that “Lichmistress,” with its elegant title, might have been born from a very different musical mindset.

7.  “Phobophile”

What a great song title.  After all that tumbling downtuned destruction, the way the piano here opens onto a bass vista before the band lands a fucking cargo jet in the center of your forehead… well, it certainly grips the attention.

6.  “Dead and Dripping”

Jon Levasseur breaks up all the pit-stomping goodness in the center of the track for a surprisingly soulful solo, then everything slows the fuck down for Lord Worm’s continued dissertation on the moistness of decomposition.  When everything explodes again for the song’s second half, some of the best dissonance lies in the rear of the mix, only accessible with headphones and a little help from your favorite (okay, my favorite) brewery.

5.  “Graves of the Fathers”

NSV’s third track gallops like a thrash tune set on fire and chased by a pack of yapping hellhounds, then takes a little time to gnaw on the charred remains as the song winds down.  The drums, bass and guitar riffs lock together in a tightly focused display.

4.  “Crown of Horns”

The lead track is a potent distillation of everything Cryptopsy excels at through the album:  monstrous groove, maniacal tempos, savagely bangable riffs and scorched-throat vocals.  The sample at the head of the track sets the tone well for the soul-pummeling to come.

3.  “Orgiastic Disembowelment”

Underneath all the manic drumming hides a Tyranno-riff that gets its due with a grumpy bass introduction halfway through the song.  One of the great joys of the album is the opportunity to revel in mid-paced chugging while Mounier attacks from all sides at once, turning any calmer scene into a bloodbath.

2.  “Benedictine Convulsions”

Feel that bass string spanging off the side of your head?  That’s Eric Langlois’s way of keeping you off balance by accenting the guitar in a strikingly odd way.  Jon Levasseur’s solo here is more frighteningly indirect than elsewhere.  The chugging riff sounds like its cornering prey and preparing to feast.

1.  “Slit Your Guts”

Hear that flickering guitar fire behind every riff on this song?  Hear those blistering solos?  Is that slithering sound a bass line or is it actually your guts sliding out of your abdominal cavity?  The exquisite combination of music, lyrics and title make this a fine soundtrack to any amateur surgery sans anaesthetic.