Bionic Swarm

Written by: RUB on 20/12/2021 22:33:47

Progressive thrash newcomers (albeit only in name; they used to be known as Distillator) Cryptosis from the Netherlands have released their début album after changing their moniker and musical direction last year. To be fair, going from thrash metal to a progressive strain of the genre might not be the biggest of changes, but it does add some more depth and stylistic opportunities when compared to a more classic style. I was first made aware of this band by a friend of mine, and after stating that their sound was “much like Vektor”, I found it hard not to give this release a spin — especially given the fantastic take on the genre by the Danish band Terminalist earlier this year. And as a spoiler, I am beyond happy that I did.

The thing about thrash metal to me is that it’s basically a swing and a miss sort of genre. We have the legendary classics that have stood the test of time, the newer outings that have been mind-blowing in their own right, and then the albums that touch upon the genre, but avoid being labeled merely thrash. At the same time, however, many of the releases coming out of this long-standing movement are easily forgotten and rather pointless, which has distilled the genre into a dichotomy: either you’re a die-hard fan, who loves almost every album spat out by the genre, or the chances are you don’t like 90% of what’s coming out of it. Enter progressive thrash. As is the case with so many crossover styles, this subgenre has extracted the best elements from classic thrash metal and paired it with ditto from prog — but on top of that, it reveals both more diversity and a clear evolution in the instrumental channels. Several artists have utilized these elements with great success, especially the aforementioned Vektor, with whom Cryptosis will be touring next year and who should, by now, be on everyone who’s into this subgenre’s lips. But enough chit chat — and onto this début album from Cryptosis: “Bionic Swarm”.

After a short intro, the frenzy erupts. The exploding and mind-blowing madness of “Decypher” sets the stage quite well for what’s to come. Crisp production, aggressive instrumentals, and vocals so fierce and harsh you instantly feel the need to bang your head. Already on this track, you get the sense of the atmosphere present on this record, which is in no small part thanks to bass player Frank te Riet, who additionally mans the mellotron, which is very useful here in creating a soundscape that appropriately underlines the lyrical themes of science fiction, technology, and a futuristic dystopia. The riffs come at you in a machine gun-like tempo, but there is also plenty of space for both interesting songwriting and brilliant melodies. The same can be said about “Death Technology”; from the very beginning, this track has the adjective exciting written all over it. The change in pace, the rolling drums, the swift back-and-forth between the riffs, the fast-paced rhythms and the suitable atmosphere spell out an absolute banger to me. And on a side note, it seems to me as though lead singer Laurens Houvast really understands how to utilize his voice to the fullest extent. Specifically, I very much enjoy the nods towards Destruction’s vocalist Schmier and his high-pitched squeals, which, both on this track and also the preceding one, really add that special little bit of extra to elevate Cryptosis from merely good to great.

After a more tranquil breather in “Prospect of Immortality”, it’s time for yet another highlight. “Transcendence” is both absurdly fast paced, but also packs a lot of melody and tremolo guitar, which makes me think about several songs by Melechesh. The same is true when it comes to the vocal sections as well, which goes to show that every track by Cryptosis seems to touch a wide range of inspiration sources. It has that same interplay between brutality, technical elements and melody that begs the listener to really pay attention. After a brutal first section, a melody kicks in just shy of the first minute mark, but then quickly returns as all the remaining elements enter and fuse in perfect unison, creating a rapid thrash metal banger that is sure to destroy pits around the globe at some point.

In “Game of Souls”, the element of groove also present in the mix is then brought to the fore; much in the vein of Revocation, the blend of blistering guitars and drums is combined with quirky shifts in riffing and melody, creating a much groovier soundscape than the rest of the tracks have offered thus far. But this genre doesn’t always have to be delivered at maximum velocity in order to work wonders. Here, I’d like to point out “Mindscape”, the penultimate track, which, instead of just pounding away like most of its predecessors, utilizes a more droning and slow-paced build-up. Cryptosis’ knack at combining several genres and elements into a single track truly becomes evident here, and especially the mellotron, as mentioned earlier, works so well in this track as well. Somehow my mind wanders into the direction of Satyricon’s “Now, Diabolical” for this one, but this impression is swiftly reversed when the final song “Flux Divergence” arrives as probably the closest the band comes to a straight-up, classic thrash metal track. It’s a great note to end on!

What we have here thus is a newly formed and clear contender to bands such as Vektor, who are considered to be one of the best, if not the best band operating in the progressive thrash metal subgenre. Cryptosis have managed to write an absolutely crushing début, one which both features an absurdly high level of technical skill without sacrificing any of the melody, catchy riffs or intelligent writing, and also several aspects of atmospheric metal that just compliment the group’s sounds so well. The crisp sound and production are two omnipresent powers, too, working wonders in terms of translating the technical soundscape into something tangible. Be sure not to miss this epic record!

Download: Transcendence, Death Technology, Decypher, Game of Souls, Mindscape
For the fans of: Destruction, Kreator, Revocation, Terminalist, Vektor
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.03.2021
Century Media

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