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The Kryptik – Behold Fortress Inferno Award winner

The Kryptik
Behold Fortress Inferno
by Ian Yeara at 01 December 2020, 10:55 AM

There are years where I listen to a lot of Black Metal and years where I don’t, this year has been the former. I like when I end up listening to a good share of newly released Black Metal because I really get a sense for where the genre is and what influences are really standing out. It’s been somewhat of a mixed bag this year, for example DISMALIMERENCE, EMYN MUIL and MORWYNION were all excellent albums, but for every one of those there was a HÄXENZIJRKELL or a DISAMARA.

My initial reaction to this album is that it takes a lot of what I’ve been hearing all year and puts it together in a very cohesive way. The production is definitely in keeping with imitation of second wave Black Metal from the early 90s. I guess it mostly reminds me of ENSLAVED's debut album "Vikingr Veldi" for an album to compare it to, especially with these track lengths. In 1994, "Vikingr Veldi" was quite a revolutionary album and it’s unfortunate that nowadays this kind of album probably wouldn’t be seen by most as anything particularly special, but in my experience the hardest balance to really nail down in Black Metal is when you have keyboards. Figuring out how and where to apply keyboards can be quite a challenging task and THE KRYPTIK do an impressive job at that.

First let’s talk about that organ intro on the title track, I mean what a way to start off an album, right? We get about 2 minutes worth of dramatic haunted castle style organ playing that sets the mood and atmosphere for the album perfectly. There’s some synth choir in the background, but once the song really gets going it’s all on the guitar and the rhythm section.

This album is firmly rooted in the second wave Black Metal of the early 90s, as evidenced by the MAYHEM cover at the end of this album. In fact for those MAYHEM fans reading this review "Funeral Fog" really fits the style of this album and I really could see it being an original composition of the band’s if I didn’t already know the song. If you’re a fan of old school Black Metal then this should really scratch that itch because I genuinely could have been convinced this was written in the 90s, again if I didn’t know any better.

After the slab of unadulterated Black Metal that is "Behold Fortress Inferno" we get "The Plagues of the Abyss", another blistering 8 minutes of Black Metal still with that ethereal choir sound in the background keeping the otherworldly feel this album cultivates. THE KRYPTIK borrows tricks from bands like SUMMONING and COLDWORLD with the combination of Atmospheric Black Metal and material that’s more straightforward.

Thinking about Black Metal as a genre, it’s usually a pretty simple formula and that’s not meant as a criticism so much as an observation; in its earliest conception Black Metal was much closer to Thrash Metal with extra steps. The second wave experimented with those basic concepts, but perhaps not going as far as they could have. The point I’m trying to make is that it can be tricky and difficult to tinker with the traditional Black Metal sound without alienating different fanbases.

Some people might look at the genre of Black Metal and call it repetitive and samey, and I suppose in a way they’d be right. Still, I look at it as a constant effort towards perfection of the Black Metal style, everyone wants to push the boundaries in their own way whether it’s the Prog route (my favorite) with the likes of IHSAHN/EMPEROR, ENSLAVED, BORKNAGAR, etc. Or the Melodic Death Metal route alongside KARLAHAN, DISSECTION, and DEICIDE, each of those evolutions of Black Metal left behind some fans. There is still a core demographic of those who yearn for Black Metal the likes of "In The Nightside Eclipse", "A Blaze In The Northern Sky", and "At The Heart Of Winter". This album is for you, this band is for you, everything about this band, their sound, their aesthetic.

THE KRYPTIK take all of my expectations of classic Black Metal and put them together. I’ve made some pretty lofty comparisons on this review, I know that, and maybe this album isn’t on that level, but I give them all the credit in the world for being able to take inspiration from a wide range of sources and kind of boiling it all down to the essence. I feel like there’s no one area where they’re really pushing a boundary or trying to evolve the genre, but that’s not the point here they are doing their best to create a Black Metal album that sounds like it came out in 1995 and that is exactly what they have achieved.

I don’t really want to spend the rest of this telling you about the rest of the songs because it would just be me gushing about how great the riffs sound, how the mix is actually really good and while the production definitely has that Black Metal emptiness without much bass at all, it still sounds clear and intelligible which I’m going to make my number one most important Black Metal concern, I don’t care how “trve” you are at least make sure I can hear the layers in the music that you want me to hear. Whoever engineered this album did a brilliant job. The vocals have just the right timbre, the guitars have the perfect tone, and the synth hits just the right note of dungeon synth in the background really giving the whole album a lot of depth and helping it fill the space.

Obviously this is just an EP and as of right now I actually haven’t listened to anything else they’ve made (I’m definitely going to now), but I really enjoyed this EP for what it is, an homage to the sound of Black Metal or at least, my idea of Black Metal. I try not to speak for all fans of any genre so I try to be as broad as possible. I have nothing else to say, this was a treat.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Behold Fortress Inferno
2. The Plagues of the Abyss
3. …Of Darkness
4. Black Legions March
5. Paths from Eternity
6. Funeral Fog (Mayhem Cover)
Lineup:
Tormentor – Drums, Bass
Sinner – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Record Label: Purity Through Fire
     


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