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Crypt Sermon : The Ruins Of Fading Light

US Trad/Epic band Crypt Sermon offer an absolute killer as their sophomore full-length release.

Lee Dorrian is a lifer. When the underground was teeming with the ferocity of urgent, politically active Grindcore, he decided to try something different and form Cathedral. One could even think of Mr. Dorrian as the British Wino, seemingly born out of time yet proud to take up the great commission of creating a huge 70s sound with the singular vision of the primacy of Rock 'n Roll. I bring up this hero of Doom Metal because it was his band, Cathedral, that I first thought of when I heard the latest release from Crypt Sermon. 'The Ethereal Mirror', my first exposure to the former, had a distinct sound forged from a loyal devotion to Sabbath, a sound that like the latter, is all the band's own. Like 'The Ethereal Mirror', 'The Ruins of Fading Light' pulls the listener into another world conditioning the ears along the way to respond to the perpetuation of truly gargantuan riffs. Another comparison to Cathedral could be made by noting that Crypt Sermon stand alone in their sound. Theirs is a tone that forsakes the boutique fuzz boxes that are all the rage these days and replaces them with a staunchly Metal sound, full of gain yet tight, fluid, and clear. Crypt Sermon create their own fantasy dominion, its borders only the limits of their collective ability that exponentially replicates itself. These guys are Heavy Metal dungeon masters yet also, in the telling of the tale to 'The Ruins of Fading Light', each is able to dive into the action and breathe in that world questing on the most noble of journeys, a crusade to honor those visionaries who came before by picking up where they left off and advancing into new territory for the glory of Heavy fucking Metal.

Crypt Sermon exploit the machinations of their sound by constantly redefining its dimensions throughout. What this means for the listener is the marked increase in connection with the music by engaging the audience with a carefully crafted map of events. The first track, 'The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame),' is a throttling, jarring opener as the band demonstrate their capacity for high-energy, up-tempo, classic Heavy Metal. When the band arrives at the second track, 'Key of Solomon,' though, their penchant for Epic Doom is demonstrated fully. The plodding mid-paced groove the band utilize is not one that is permanently settled in though. Tempos shift and keys change throughout the ride.

Like Candlemass and even Sabbath to an extent, Crypt Sermon sound most ferociously feral when operating within that majestic, groove-based middle ground. The third track hits even harder and before one knows it, the instrumental fourth track has played through and the blistering fifth track, 'Christ is Dead,' has arrived. With this song the dive into Crypt Sermon's world becomes more pronounced as one finds oneself trying to anticipate the next vocal melody or guitar harmony, an impossible feat even after dozens of listens as is the case with this reviewer. The album proceeds further on expanding and developing the heaviness and haunting experience that tie it together.

The solo in the sixth track, 'The Snake Handler,' is the sickest sweep in the genre abrupt, instantaneous, and melodic. The guitar work on the album is simply outstanding. These are riffs carved into stone, meant to last millennia. The judicious use of various lead guitar techniques means solos that are constantly evolving and expanding the canon refusing to be stale. Ineffective is not in this band's vocabulary. Another example would be the simple bass slide toward the end of the track, another spontaneous indulgence that wonderfully initiates a stunning transition.

The band's mighty sound is derived from a dual guitar lineup perfect for channeling their predilection for mighty regal riffs propped up by the interchange of palm-muted chunkiness and a repertoire of melodies that invoke the masters. If one were to distill this, it would be fifty percent Iommi girth and the remainder split between Solitude Aeternus-like sword and sorcery flair and the haunting notes played by Sherman and Denner-fronted Mercyful Fate. There is a very Neoclassical strain running throughout that is a less Paganini and Segovia-based Malmsteen-type romp and more a mighty deluge of Wagner-style fantasy. Add to that sound a powerhouse rhythm section that is deeply locked in providing the needed grease on the wheels of this multi-headed beast. The band is rounded out by a singer in Brooks Wilson that truly has his own vibe, often expanding the given melody or alternating it with a countermelody that seriously makes one wonder where he comes up with this stuff! Like the boy who would be king, Crypt Sermon have approached the stone lacking any sense of apprehension or doubt and mightily drawn the proverbial Excalibur from its resting place proving royal blood truly does run through their veins as they have become new defenders of the realm, champions of courage and bravery.

Even though the one time I tried to ride a horse was a near brush with death, I cannot deny the call of mounting a trusted steed to ride into battle, slaying deceivers and those would stand in the way of Arthurian justice. Crypt Sermon are not, however, an Epic Doom answer to Manowar, despite the many fantasy references that have appeared throughout this piece. There is a regality inherent in these Philly natives' tunes that eschews muscle-flexing Robert E. Howard-derived tropes for a stately affair with integrity and intelligently designed alternate dominions of reality. While you're at it, look up these guys' take on the Black Metal anthem, 'De Mysteriis Doom Sathanas', and yes, you read that correctly. That cover is a couple of years old now but shows how adaptable the band is and how wide their range of influence. Bottom line: anyone with a love for killer Heavy Metal, rejoice! Meet your new favorite band, Crypt Sermon.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)
2. Key Of Solomon
3. Our Reverends Grave
4. Epochal Vestiges
5. Christ Is Dead
6. The Snake Handler
7. Oath Of Exile
8. Enslave The Heathens
9. Beneath The Torchfire Glare
10. The Ruins Of Fading Light

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Crypt Sermon bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-02-24 by Chris Hawkins
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