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Cryogen - "Psalms Of Deceit (re-release)" (CD/EP)

Cryogen - "Psalms Of Deceit (re-release)" CD/EP cover image

"Psalms Of Deceit (re-release)" track listing:

1. Faith And Suicide
2. Man Is War
3. This Nightmare
4. Omega
5. Forever Broken
6. Break These Chains
7. Episode 666 (In Flames cover)
8. Cell (bonus track)

Reviewed by on July 15, 2012

"As the fans multiply, a time may soon come when a growing clamor for fresh new material forces the band to lay down its cards and give us a walloping LP for the ages."

This Coloradan outfit couldn’t have chosen a more perfectly polarized name to suit its music. Among the many uses of cryogens – super-cooled substances – is the production of liquid hydrogen fuel, used most famously as rocket propellant for the Space Shuttle. This juxtaposition of sensations, a chilled, icy void of lifelessness and a fiery, passionate blast of aggression, is the ultimate metaphor for melodic death metal in the classical tradition. At The Gates pursued a similar idea with “The Burning Darkness,” upon which Cryogen has improved with a subtler, cleverer spin. It speaks to the classiness, precision, and intensity of the delicious musical carnage of “Psalms Of Deceit,” version 2.0.

For a band with eight years of history already under its belt, Cryogen has taken a somewhat unusual trajectory in terms of recorded output. Since 2005 debut release “Premonition” – the only proper full-length studio album to date – these guys’ work has focused like a mad scientist’s obsession on assembling, shaping, honing, and perfecting The Ultimate EP – and then repeating the process. “Psalms Of Deceit” is a reboot of a 2009 six-tracker of the same title. This in turn recycled the songs “Man Is War,” “This Nightmare,” and “Break These Chains” from the 2007 six-tracker “This Nightmare.” Leapfrogging further back, a version of “Forever Broken” originally appeared on “Premonition.” And in the true spirit of DIY improvement, “Cell” is a resurrected B-side that failed to make the cut on “This Nightmare,” and has finally seen a proper recording. If you’re not permanently cross-eyed by now, your job is to forget the fevered, repetitive tinkering and approach this current batch of tracks with fresh ears. It displays a band perched atop the talent heap of the American underground, gifted with the trinity of riff, hook, and song.

The band members don’t waste their time or yours, either. At five minutes, progressive opener “Faith And Suicide” is the longest track, unfolding in a masterfully controlled complexity that tosses Unearth and Decapitated in a spinning blender. For a dose of the simpler, the mid-paced “Omega” combines the ascendant, triumphal leads of Amon Amarth and the jagged harmonics of late ‘90s In Flames. As for the recycled tracks, they swing furiously between these two poles, devouring the old school and the modern with equal hunger and spitting out a balanced synthesis of each, shot through with the sharp, effortless rhythms of Lamb Of God and drenched in the essence of Gothenburg, from whence sprung the concept of melody itself as heaviness incarnate. Driving this point home, Cryogen includes one “new” song, a straightforward but laudable cover of the In Flames classic “Episode 666.” Rather than attempting to alter or build upon the original (even suggesting such a thing is unwise at best), the cover’s intention is to demonstrate just how seamlessly it slides into the band’s arsenal. Whether whipping itself into a technical whirlwind or riding a smooth groove, Cryogen’s music is less “melodic death metal” than a “death-like melody.”

While this reboot of “Psalms Of Deceit” may be neither quite fish nor fowl – a tad long for an EP yet not substantial enough for a full album – it’s certainly a sadistic tease. Over the years, Cryogen has been meticulously reworking its material at a steady pace, using a relatively low profile as cover. However, as the fans multiply, a time may soon come when a growing clamor for fresh new material forces the band to lay down its cards and give us a walloping LP for the ages. The potential is that great, and desperately needs to be realized.

Highs: A classical-yet-current take on melodic death metal that knows no boundaries between past and present; highly recommended for metal fans of all ages.

Lows: Both then and now, most of the material on this re-release is recycled from prior efforts.

Bottom line: Quality melodic death is alive and well in Colorado; now we just need more of it.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)