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Sunday Old School: Cryptopsy

Photo of Cryptopsy

Band Photo: Cryptopsy (?)

Despite my recent live report in which I stated my disappointment with Cryptopsy during their show with Brujeria, it would be most remiss of me to ignore their contributions to the death metal genre. The group are one of the most influential names in the field of technical death metal, along with the likes of Atheist and Pestilence and have a rich catalogue of brutality behind them, so today we're going to be looking at Cryptopsy, one of the of the most hailed extreme metal acts to ever come out of Canada.

The band began life under the name Necrosis, with the original members consisting of vocalist, dan Greening, who became better known to fans as, "Lord Worm," drummer Mike Atkin and guitarist Steve Thibault, before they brought in bassist, John Todds. Under their original moniker, the band recorded the demos, "Mastication and Heterodontis" and "Realms Of Pathogenia," before a self-titled demo was released in 1992, the year the group performed their first live show and changed their name to the now familiar, Cryptopsy. Shortly after this, Atkin left the and was replaced by Flo Mounier, a recommendation of John Todds, who himself would leave before long, with Kevin Weagle entering the fold as the new bassist, while Dave Galea joined as a second guitarist.

Now a quintet, the band recorded a new demo, "Ungentle Exhumation," which attracted enough attention for Gore Records to re-release the the effort, before German label, Invasion Records picked the band up, by which time they had split with their latest recruits and brought in Martin Fergusson and Jon Levasseur. This revamped lineup recorded the debut Cryptopsy album, "Blasphemy Made Flesh," which was originally an independent release before Invasion re-released it. It was a very well received album, remaining a favourite amongst fans, garnering praise from critics and increasing their presence and credibility in the Canadian metal scene massively.

Although the record fared well critically, Invasion Records were facing financial problems and were soon forced out of business, leading Cryptopsy to sign with Swedish label, Wrong Again Records, who released the band's sophomore full length, "None So Vile," which was recorded as a quartet following Martin Fergusson being replaced by Eric Langlois and Thibaut decided to quit, though he did stay on as a manager for a time. It was another critically lauded album, again being ranked by critics and fans as one of, if not their finest work, emboldened by front cover art by Italian painter, Elisabetta Sirani, of Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist.

Following touring for the album, Lord Worm decided to leave the band to focus on his English teaching job. In his place came Boston native, Mike DiSalvo, who was approved of by the group's former singer and brought with him a more hardcore influenced style of vocals. His entry came at a good time, as an appearance at the Milwaukee Metalfest XI brought them greater attention from American metal fans and that of Century Media Records, who signed the band shortly after their appearance. The band's first release through their new label was the 1998 effort, "Whisper Supremacy," which also marked the debut of new second guitarist, Miguel Roy. The record didn't receive the widespread acclaim of the previous two and some fans were unhappy with Disalvo's vocal work, but was nevertheless met with good reviews from most publications and the promotion of the album led them to tour the United States for the first time, which has always been seen as a crucial market to break into.

As was almost tradition by now, Cryptopsy parted company with another band member, this time Miguel Roy, with Alex Auburn taking his place. Soon after came their fourth album, "And Then You'll Beg," which was seen as considerably less heavy than previous records, though still highly technical and experimental in nature. It was to be their last album with DiSalvo, who decided leave to start a family, with Montreal fan Martin LaCroix stepping in to take over the frontman position. Given his slight grasp on the English language, he was unable to contribute lyrically and so his only appearance was on Cryptopsy's first live album, "None So Live," released in 2003, the same year that they announced the return of Lord Worm.

His return was marked with the 2005 album, "Once Was Not," which was mostly recorded as a four piece, with Jon Levasseur only contributing to the song, "Luminum," before announcing his departure, citing a loss of interest in extreme music. It received some excellent reviews from publications such as Blabbermouth and Alternative Press and led them to tour with Suffocation, Despised Icon and Aborted in North America, before teaming with Aborted again to tour Europe with Grave and Dew-Scented. They recruited live guitarist, Christian Donalson as a full time member of the group and were preparing to record a new album, tentatively titled, "The Book of Suffering," before it was announced that Lord Worm was no longer in the band, with the singer claiming he'd left for health reasons while the other members saying he'd been fired.

What followed was one of the most controversial decisions in recent metal history, as the band hired new vocalist, Matt McGachy and saw their style move towards the then popular deathcore style, as evidenced on their infamous 2008 album, "The Unspoken King." The album received mixed reviews at best and was hated by a majority of Cryptopsy fans, who accused the band of selling out and following a trend. It was also their last album to feature guitarist Alex Auburn and bassist Eric Langlois, though fans disappointed by the album were relieved that Auburn's replacement was eventually confirmed as the returning Jon Levasseur, who was a major song writing force during his time with the group, whilst the new bassist by the time the next album rolled around was Neuraxis member, Olivier Pinard.

With members new and old now ready to record, Cryptopsy released a self-titled full length in 2012, which marked a return to their technical death metal sound and received some very good reviews from the press. Similar to Lord Worm's return, it would prove to be a case of back for one more for Jon Levasseur, who parted company with the band shortly after the release of the album, leaving Cryptopsy as a quartet once again. The group announced earlier this year that they would be resurrecting the concept of "The Book of Suffering," releasing it as a series of crowd funded EPs rather than an album, with the first installment, "The Boof of Suffering - Tome 1" to be released soon. Where Cryptopsy go from here, how the departure of Jon Levasseur affects the band and whether they can full reclaim the fans who abandoned them after "The Unspoken King" are all things which remain to be seen, but they can be proud of their catalogue of stellar of death metal with plenty of risks taken along the way.

Cryptopsy -"Mutant Christ"

Cryptopsy - "Crown of Thorns"

Cryptopsy - "Cold Hate, Warm Blood"

Cryptopsy - "Soar and Envision Sore Vision"

Cryptopsy - "The Pestilence That Walketh In Darkness"

Cryptopsy - "Worship Your Demons"

Cryptopsy - "Two Pound Torch"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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