Because of being quite possibly the leaders in the French-Canadian metalscene, Cryptopsy has set a high standard for themselves with previous records as ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’ and ‘None So Vile’. After that last record vocalist Lord Worm left the band and got replaced by Mike DiSalvo, a change that some people appreciated but left a lot of fans unsatisfied. Founding guitarist Jon Levasseur also recently left the band, making Alex Auburn the only guitarist. This year, Lord Worm returned to the band to record ‘Once Was Not’, the latest entry into Cryptopsy’s discography. A lot of people were curious (including myself) about this record, especially with the recent lineup changes in mind. Is this still a real Cryptopsy record?
Well, musically not much seems to have changed. Flo Mounier is still one of the most skilled death metal drummers out there; and this record is a testament to the man’s work ethic. Lightning fast drumwork, tight blastbeats, tons of fills; he is pretty much the complete package. Auburn’s guitarwork is typical Cryptopsy, relentless death metal riffing, spiced up with jazzy scales and odd solos. The moments where there is some actual melodic guitarplaying are rare, and that only enhances the feeling of nausea and chaos that I always have while listening to this band. Organised chaos and violence, so to say. Lord Worm sounds as good as he did on the older albums, with his warped vocal style of screams, grunts-from-the-gut and so on.
My main pet peeve with a band this skilled is that ‘Once Was Not’ somehow missed that edge that the older albums (with Worm) had, and I can’t say that the bands musical canvas has expanded much. We get some keyboards and doomy passages, and a neat jazzy intro in "Keep the Cadaver Dogs Busy" but I would have loved to hear more of those moments. Personal highlight is the track "Angelskingarden", the longest song on the record. It has an atmospheric intro, some weird-ass transitions and some of the best drumming on the cd. This track would be a good showcase of the bands current musical situation.
Just like Hate Eternal’s "I, Monarch" and Nile’s "Annihilation Of The Wicked", "Once Was Not" is more proof that Death Metal is a genre which pushes the boundaries of musicianship. Currently I personally prefer the older albums, but maybe this record is a shape of things to come. A more experimental direction would be appreciated by myself but I think that the most Cryptopsy fans can get this album without any hesitation.