"The Barrens"

By Dr. Abner Mality

We who bear the title of "mad scientist" (and what a crude, disparaging description that is) are rarely satisfied with our work. We keep tinkering, experimenting, and adjusting our works until our creations reach perfection. I know this has been my approach in creating new forms of life here at Wormwood Labs. And I know it has also been the modus operandi of Prof. Patrick Bruss, mastermind of the beastly death metal creation known as CRYPTICUS.

"The Barrens" sees Prof. Bruss further advancing the evolution of Crypticus. Formerly a solitary adventurer, Bruss is now joined by a fellow miscreant, a Dr. Brynjar Helgetun of Norway, who contributes percussive sounds to the dreadful sonic tapestry that is Crypticus. "The Barrens" finds this collaboration reaching new heights of's the best produced Crypticus ever. Now this may disturb some and I admit affection for the murkiness of prior Cryptic output, but you can sure hear the musicianship much better than ever before and the addition of live drummer Dr. Helgetun is a real plus.

It is a true achievement when you can create something unique in the world of death metal. Crypticus has done this. They have their own unique sound that cannot be mistaken for any other band. Surely, Bruss and Helgetun have stitched together their monster with parts from old Swedish death metal, bits of classic thrash and pieces of horror movie soundtracks, but Crypticus stands alone. The music on "The Barrens" is fast, relentless and endlessly creative, grinding away as Prof. Bruss' incredibly grim and brutal vocals relate tales of Lovecraftian madness and medical abomination. Keyboards add an eeire sheen to many of the tunes without detracting a whit from the heaviness and horror. I felt the album really started to move into a higher gear with the assault of "Ceremonial Surgery" and "Necrom XIII". The peak is reached with the ecstatic raging insanity of "Grand Guignol Cabaret"...that's the sort of tune that makes a horror metal lover slaver with delight.

Is "The Barrens" perfect? No, I think maybe a doomier tune or two would have added some variety. And I do miss the misanthropic crude production of "Dedicated To The Impure " and "They Called Me Mad". But Prof. Bruss and Dr. Helgetun are forging bravely ahead into new realms of metal and madness and only by such steps is the art of death advanced. Salute!