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Crypt Sermon – The Stygian Rose
Dark Descent Records

Even when Crypt Sermon were brand new, they still sounded very, very old. 

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That was by design, of course; everything about the Philadelphia sextet radiates a classic heavy metal vibe, from their powerhouse hooks and muscular ‘80s riffage to their fantastical cover artwork (hand-painted by vocalist Brooks Wilson). Ever since their debut LP, 2015’s Out of the Garden, the band has worn the sobriquet of “epic doom metal” with uneasy pride. There are certainly much, much worse things to be, especially within the metal world, but when it comes to Crypt Sermon, there’s a bit more there there. 

Sure, they’ve never been shy about worshiping at the graven altars of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, and Dio, and their old-school metal influences are on perpetual display. The band is no retro revival act, though, and galaxies away from any tired retread. Crypt Sermon have never been interested in reinventing any wheels, but they have crafted their own with deadly precision. 

Their songs are certainly epic—one need only look to the sprawling title track of their new LP, The Stygian Rose, to see what they can do with 11-odd minutes, a keyboard, buckets of atmosphere, and a truly world-swallowing riff. That’s without even touching on the antediluvian concept that animates the record (it involves a 19th-century huckster, a death cult, and a dash of sex magick) or drinking in Steve Jansson and Frank Chin’s cascading dual-guitar harmonies on “Glimmers in the Underworld.” Drummer Enrique Sagarnaga and bassist Matt Knox keep things nice and heavy, imbuing the record with a saturnine fullness and anchoring the ax mens’ flights of fancy. Brooks Wilson is also in fine fettle, remaining one of the most slept-on vocalists in the entire modern metal pantheon. 

The combined Philly-metal excellence at work under Crypt Sermon’s hood is dazzling. The band members’ experience spans black/thrash to grindcore and progressive death, lending them a certain comfort with experimentation that’s rare within the confines of a traditionally more hidebound genre (spot the vintage Metallica parts!). Keyboardist Tanner Anderson is no stranger to the more bombastic side of extreme metal himself via his work in Obsequiae and Majesties, and bringing him into the fold was a very wise move. The Stygian Rose marks the band’s first full-length with a dedicated keyboardist, and his atmospheric contributions elevate the entire composition. 

The final result is an underground classic in the making. – GRADE: A-

You can check out The Stygian Rose at Bandcamp and elsewhere.

Dark Descent Records

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