Crypt Sermon – The Stygian Rose

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Like a rewarding read, and like a positive upwards spiral producing routine, this record tells the law of diminishing returns to go fuck itself because each revisit unfurls a little something more. If you want to get really into the weeds of it, get the lyrics out while you’re listening to it and cross check the songs like you’re reading The Sillmarillion with your two copies. You have two copies of The Silmarillion, right? For songs that are as dark as the atmosphere is, they are gorgeously written, meticulously crafted, paired in a way that compliments its predecessor and follower, and presented in a manner that exactly suits Crypt Sermon are looking to do.

Artist: Crypt Sermon
Album: The Stygian Rose (Dark Descent Records)
Label: Dark Descent Records
Release Date: June 14th 2024
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Written by Matt Lynch

It was pretty stellar timing, when I think about it, that after seeing Crypt Sermon recently at Maryland Deathfest that they’d release their latest record, The Stygian Rose. Even more serendipitous that I’ve really gotten in to growing roses and waging an endless war against both aphids and white flies to stop them from eating all the beautiful bulbs that are popping up. One of these happenings is infinitely more pertinent than the other, and yes it was seeing them at Ram’s Head in the early afternoon. This is my first foray into epic doom metal, as far as my shoddy memory can recall, and it’s definitely putting me in good stead; as this record has resurrected the feeling you have as an impressionable young one getting into heavy music because it’s a brand new world being opened up to me and I’m so very glad that this was the first homily I’m receiving.

Keeping its collection long with only six tracks but not skimping on their lengths, Crypt Sermon offer up a record that is held together by strong but not railroading narrative of a character trying to reconnect with his idealised female. This kind of narrative cohesion that takes initial cues from American spiritualist and sex magician Pascal Beverly Randolf (what a name) seals everything together in a way that makes The Stygian Rose feel like one of those records that need to be listened to it’s entirety, rather than a collection of singles. Glimmers in The Underworld begins our observations of this nameless man on what seems like a pretty fruitless quest with, ironically enough, a real fist pumping groove. After some appropriate ambiance setting, it settles itself into a straightforward drive, gradually edging itself to a middle third flurry of fretboard fireworks. From here, we peak into Thunder (Perfect Mind), which is decidedly more grandiose in its presentation but doesn’t wallow in navel gazing excess to where it becomes indulgent or gaudy.

One major stand out, and this is something I mentioned on the Knuckledraggerzzz Extravaganza, is Brooks Wilson vocals which has pulled the ignorant veil I’ve been wearing for years and made me realise I actually quite like clean vocals in heavy music. He delivers these overarching thematic lyrics with such conviction and poise that you can’t help being swept up in the story, holding on with bated breath to find out where the next parable will go. This is on full display during Down In The Hollow¸ as he moves from a coy sneer and bark, to the more measured and melodic.

What a riff and what a groove on Heavy Is The Crown of Bone though, fuck me. It comes straight out of a crossover thrash’s breakdown and puts on this marching beat that I find it impossible not to speed to. I personally blame this track for any potential speeding tickets that I receive in the next month. The build up to it hitting the first time operates in a deft swell of tension before releasing it with an appropriate “OUGH”. God dammit I love this shit. In a truly wry touch, the chorus offsets this brain rattling march by soaring in some of Crypt Sermon’s most dynamic and impassioned sections. Again, this dynamic is played with as things simmer down into Scrying Orb, and much like the ponderous item in its title, it is more subdued and more introspective than its punchy lead in. If we take this and the title track as the final throws of The Stygian Rose, it’s a perfect way to cap off a record. The dust has settled a little during the earlier moments Scrying Orb and by the time we hit the final track, things are on the upswing again. Closing out with the longest track here gives us as listeners one final reward for making it to this point as all the previous elements combine well to bid this album farewell. It gives all these previous ideas and motifs time to tie themselves together like One Hundred Years of Solitude and you don’t even need a family tree to appreciate it.

Seeing them live has solidified that thought in my mind so it will always be tied to that somewhat. The Stygian Rose coming out a little under a month after seeing them, as I mentioned earlier, was a fantastic piece of timing that seemed exclusively teed up for myself and this record has quickly become entrenched in my routine like a positive habit. Like a rewarding read, and like a positive upwards spiral producing routine, this record tells the law of diminishing returns to go fuck itself because each revisit unfurls a little something more. If you want to get really into the weeds of it, get the lyrics out while you’re listening to it and cross check the songs like you’re reading The Sillmarillion with your two copies. You have two copies of The Silmarillion, right? For songs that are as dark as the atmosphere is, they are gorgeously written, meticulously crafted, paired in a way that compliments its predecessor and follower, and presented in a manner that exactly suits Crypt Sermon are looking to do.

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