The breadth and depth of the Metal scene in Perth, Western Australia is something Your Grouchy Friend has written about significantly over the last year. There is something for everyone across a vibrant spectrum, in particular the heavier end of that spectrum. Given the size of the place, the multitude and variety of the acts are scarcely conceivable. Crypt Crawler will already be known to many outside of the most isolated capital city on earth, they are certainly no secret to the denizens of their home town, and after their latest offering “Future Usurper” gets around the planet they will no doubt be a name hot on many lips. The album has just been released on the 2nd of June and does not disappoint.
An interestingly clean and pretty bass tone gets us out of the blocks: Interesting because it is indicative of the use of a wide sound palette, and almost traditional metal structures and motifs that are explored throughout the album. There are numerous moments on “Future Usurper” that feel truer to capital H Heavy, capital M Metal than the Death Metal tropes more commonly espoused by today’s extreme bands. This is damn refreshing and may be a function of the process of carving a place in a burgeoning Perth scene. Everyone has their distinct approach, and the proliferation of acts dictates a clarity of purpose and sound in order to be heard. You need to be bringing your own “something” down here or why would anyone bother to listen with such a smörgåsbord of top level talent?
Back to that intro… the bass is quickly doubled and harmonised by lightly flanged, distorted guitar and drops to a gorgeous clean passage before thunderous staccato blasts signify the coming of the main fare. The riffing and arrangement feel wonderfully familiar and lay a foundation for well written, accessible and enjoyable Death Metal that is well worth your time. “The Mouth of Death” proves an excellent precis for what follows: It proffers just enough to whet the appetite yet holds back for the promise of greater things.
…and greater things come very, very quickly. The title track is an absolute belter of a tune that will be a must have for 2021 playlists. This is compelling, sonically pleasing heavy artistry: The way the bass and the distortion of the guitar blend together feels perfect at high volume. The mids cut beautifully, and the low-mids feel physical as they reach the frequencies of the bass. All of this portrays Crypt Crawler’s riffery in a befitting fashion. There is a timelessness to some of the riffs, almost a classicism – this is not the heaviest album, not the most brutal, not the most technical, but there is a sense of the clarity and identity of which lesser fare is oft bereft.
“Force Fed to the Dead” assures the quality continues with a cracking intro that takes a melodic idea through several rhythmic contexts before ploughing into a rumbling verse structure. Crypt Crawler are not afraid to hang on a foundation of chugging patterns to afford vocalist Marco Ieritano the space to operate. The album is vocally solid, with a number of different looks in terms of style and delivery, and a particular pleasure taken in song forms with genuine hooks. Ieritano brings an easy sense of phrasing and placement, and irrespective of his chosen tone – be it searing highs of the Carcass variety, or solid, throaty gutturals, or indeed several subtleties between – he never seems to be out of control or having to work too hard. Wanderlust readers will be familiar with Your Grouchy Friend’s attitudes to extreme vocal delivery, and this is work that ticks all the boxes. Whilst the standard is high throughout, “Delirium” in particular features some splendid vocal depth, and “The Avaricious Ones” closes with an excellent vocal change up before resolving to a more archetypal approach.
The arrangements and composition flow very nicely throughout, with memorable moments aplenty: “Inherent Complexion” delivers some hard hitting musical hooks, but the riff that drops around 2:20 is as pure and addictive a slab of melodic Metal guitar as you will hear. “Choir of Reprieve” centres on a delicious main passage that thrashes along as fodder for more great vocal choices. A part of this reviewer desperately wanted the the rhythmic table-cloth pulled from under that riff… half-time and the glassware remains standing! But sometimes the pleasure is in the denial.
The traditional feel remains evident in the lead/melodic lines over arpeggiated break downs a-la “Horrors of Humanity.” This song trudges along with a building sense of destination – the culmination of which sounds a treat with the central theme stripped of distortion and wielded intelligently for a great sense of closure.
There are no wheels being reinvented here, but there is an uncanny knack of knowing which ones need to turn for the best results. There is a self assuredness to the closing several tracks that show a band reaching a new level of maturity in their song writing. The chorus vocal in “The Illusion We’re Under” has a whole other sense of depth and throatiness. Some of the best moments vocally are on this track and an innovative, synth-infused midsection that develops into more clean arpeggios provides a timely sojourn from the portentous crescendos that litter the final tracks.
“Future Usurper” presents a truly enjoyable listen from start to finish, and it is pervaded with an undeniable quality. The confident and capable use of more classic (in a Heavy Metal sense) melodic and structural forms will make it an interesting one to watch in terms of the reaction it garners from various genre fan-boys, whilst giving the work an undeniable appeal. Like so much Metal, some of the greatest parts of this work are simply made for the live arena, and if you’re in Perth on the 19th of this month, this will be one hell of an album to check out at the launch. If you are not, then get yourself to one of the links below and get yourself a big helping of Crypt Crawler.