Crypt Sermon : The Stygian Rose

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Crypt Sermon The Stygian Rose review

Doom is in the very roots of heavy metal. Over the decades since Black Sabbath introduced the sound to the world, doom has expanded in a myriad of ways—crushing and bleak, sludgy, grimy, and atmospheric alike. Yet for as much progress as it’s made over the years, doom still sometimes lends itself to monotony, structurally and sonically relying on repetition. While it’s relatively easy to make a heavy sounding song, it takes real masters of the craft to subvert the conventions of any genre and construct something refreshing, exhilarating, and epic.

Now over a decade into their career, Philadelphia’s epic doom metal band Crypt Sermon has crafted just such an experience in the form of third album The Stygian Rose. From the outset, the band has woven compositions that unfold and bloom with palpable emotion and riveting immensity. This isn’t a straightforward route through genre tropes, nor is it a band attempting to piggyback off heavy metal nostalgia. Rather, The Stygian Rose is a work of technical prowess that’s heavy as hell, narratively fascinating, and brimming with layers of atmospheric intrigue.

Take album opener “Glimmers In The Underworld” for example—the eight-minute saga begins with an array of chimes and dissonant strings. Although eerie, the presentation is nonetheless captivating—a surreal duality playing out that compels a step forward into the unknown. Eventually, the track erupts into an exhilarating rush, the guitar tone maintaining a melodic doom quality as the bass and drums kick into high gear. While all of this on its own is exciting, it’s only a part of what makes the song shine; as the band continues, they build upon those doom and heavy metal elements to integrate surprising pockets of emotional impact. A brief transition into this ominous crawl of doomy riffing then bursts into a thrashing blast of instrumentation, making for an incredible theatrical rush.

Intricacies like these make The Stygian Rose a consistently unique experience
throughout. While there are sections of each song that play out in a typical doom/heavy metal fashion, these delightful surprises are ever-present throughout the album. “Down In The Hollow” is another thrilling whirlwind; following the track’s minimalist start, Crypt Sermon unleash a compelling blend of melodic heaviness that straddles the line between thrilling and menacing.

The Stygian Rose is bound by a narrative of doomed romance; it follows a character inspired by the sex magician and American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph, a protagonist who embarks on an adventure to find the woman he admires (although, who’s to say if she’s alive or not). While the story on its own is interesting enough, it’s also further elevated by the band’s instrumental performances. And while doom has the means of being repetitive in its droning structure and tones, it also showcases the ability to evoke palpable emotions. In this case, hearing of this protagonist’s perils alongside melodic twang and roaring riffs helps to further immerse the listener into the character’s mental state.

Closing out the album is the title track, which even on an album of bangers rises to the top. First there’s a lovely piano section, then a droning dissonant tone, which is then followed by guitars and drums thundering. Throughout the song, Crypt Sermon transition between these emotional deliveries, the dueling atmospheres and sonics building overtime to create an incredible air rife with sorrow, adrenaline, and horror. For a band whose sound is so frequently and aptly described as “epic,” I can think of no better description for The Stygian Rose.

Label: Dark Descent

Year: 2024

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