CRYPT SERMON – The Stygian Rose – Album Review

The Philadelphia based Epic Doom Six Piece return with their much anticipated third album 'The Stygian Rose'.

I was thrilled upon receiving an advanced listen for the new CRYPT SERMON album. This feeling of excitement quickly faded as the album progressed on my first listen, I found it frustrating. Their sophomore album ‘ The Ruins of Fading Light’ (2019) has become a personal favourite of mine and one of the best examples of modern Epic Doom / Traditional heavy metal.The emphasis of this latest entry leans far more towards atmosphere and doom in comparison to their previous releases which had a more Traditional Heavy Metal bend to them. The album lacks a lot of the hooks and infectious moments that made ‘Ruins of Fading Light’ such a standout album for me. This being said the quality of the audio production has improved vastly, featuring a deeper and more textured mix.

The album begins with ‘Glimmers of the underworld’, an eight minute epic which features some genuinely sophisticated and thoughtful lead playing and some driving riffs. Instrumentally I have nothing but positive comments. My primary issue and disappointment with this album is in the songwriting and structure and lack of memorable hooks which made their previous release so outstanding. Brooks Wilsons melodic vocals mixed with tasteful use of vocal fry continues to be a standout feature of the band.

Crypt Sermon

The first Single “Heavy is the Crown of Bone” was more reminiscent of the sound of the previous album but without the distinct hooks that tracks like “The Ninth Templar’ had for me. It does yet again however boast some soaring lead playing and the song drives towards some cathartic payoff towards the last verse / chorus.

Despite the album leaving me cold upon the first listen, it has however grown on me with subsequent listens after tempering my expectations I began to find a lot of enjoyment in the new sound that CRYPT SERMON are exploring. Ironically the song with the most emphasis on their new sound, which really gives into the doom laden atmosphere ‘Scrying Orb’ has become the standout track for me. The introduction of Tanner Anderson ( OBSEQUIAE ) has proven to be the bands secret weapon.

Guitarist Steve Jansson stated that: ” “That’s my goal when I make music. I want to make things that I don’t hear other people doing or at least don’t hear others doing all in one package. The music also has to have staying power and replay value. [I wanted] that addictive feeling you had when you listened to records as a teenager.” I feel that this goal was perfectly achieved purely on the basis of its replay value and how every subsequent listen revealed something new to me.

Appreciated in full the album is a bit of an esoteric journey, peppered with occulting lyrical references and a crushing yet gloomily atmospheric sound which has kept me returning to the album despite my initial disappointment. I look forward to future releases that can perhaps find a nice blend of the more riff driven Heavy Metal sound of ‘Ruins of Fading Light’ and the more atmospheric and richer sound that has been explored on ‘The Stygian Rose’. The album definitely grows on the listener on subsequent listens. It is an album that has proven difficult to review as my opinions have fluctuated rapidly upon each listen but one that I would highly recommend for any fans of Traditional Heavy Metal or Doom.

‘The Stygian Rose” is out on the 14th of June on Dark Descent Records.

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