Polish band Cryptic Tales already has a history of 30 years, as they started out in 1989. Since then only singer/guitarist Piotr Kopko and drummer Jaroslaw Maciuszek are still part of the band, filled up by three other members. Started out as a death metal band, Cryptic Tales gained a lot of popularity in their home country, releasing succesful albums as Anathema and The Tales. At the end of the 90’s the band suddenly quit their job, and started over only 7 silent years later. In 2008, they released a new full-length album, VII Dogmata of Mercy by Empire Records, which was reissued by the American label Crash Music in April 2009. According to Cryptic Tales, this is ‘a good moment to become known outside Poland’…
The first thing I wondered about was whether or not the band takes itself seriously, as the band pics on the cd covers and booklet are kind of laughable. Oh well, this happens to appear more often with black metal bands (take Immortal, for instance), so I’ll just ignore it. The band nowadays calls itself a ‘black/death’ metal band, though personally I don’t see the death metal part. To me VII Dogmata of Mercy sounds like a typical black metal album. The rhythm guitars sound noisy and raspy and are filled with a lot of melodic black metal riffs, accompanied by a synthesizer and a dark voice. But this is of minor relevance either.
There are two aspects that bother me about this release. The first is the vocal use of Piotr Kopko, which overall sounds a bit flat and dull. Not in a degree that it's annoying, but I feel that he could’ve taken more out of his voice, which would have given the songs more dynamics and emotion. The second is the fact that the synthesizers are set too soft in relation to the rest of the instruments and the vocals (or actually, I think the drums and guitars are set too loud), which is a pity because it would have given the songs a fuller sound. Now they’re kind of faded by the rest of the music.
Apart from those two aspects, this album is certainly worth giving a try. The songs are atmospheric, complete and well-structured. Songs like ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Valley of the Dolls II’ are very gripping and offer everything you’d like to hear in a black metal song: gripping melodic riffs, heavy and groovy parts and synthesizer symphonies. Occasionally, they remind me of bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, but they’re certainly not a copy of those bands; Cryptic Tales clearly has its own style. A pity is that the last three songs on this album are a little less interesting than the rest; it seems that they have lost their spirit here a bit.
I think this may be indeed the oppurtunity for Cryptic Tales to become known in other countries, as they have released a reasonably good symphonic/melodic black metal album, though still containing some aspects to improve.
2. Towards Modern Darkness (8:10)
3. Valley of the Dolls II (6:19)
4. Set the Unholy Icons Free (8:58)
5. In Immortality (9:37)
6. Like in the Darkest Stormy Nights (6:56)
7. VII Dogma of Mercy (11:03)
Jacek Fall – guitars
Jaroslaw Maciuszek – drums
Mateusz Bernadyn – bass
Bartlomiej Filipinski – synthesizers