Album Title: Kryptan
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Date of Release: 23 July 2021
From the mind of ex-Katatonia and October Tide musician Mattias Norrman, comes a new entity by the name of Kryptan. And, given my love of Katatonia, and my appreciation for October Tide, I am delighted to be in a position to have heard the self-titled EP, or ‘mini-album’ as the record label describe it, and offer you my thoughts on it. I may be several months late to this particular party, but I still feel it is important to keep the spotlight on this band.
To bring Kryptan to life last year, guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Norrman enlisted the help of fellow October Tide bandmate, vocalist Alexander Högbom and Wretched Fate drummer Samuel Karlstrand. Together, the trio have created an intriguing and entertaining four tracks that seek to plunder the sound of yesteryear. To be more precise, Kryptan have summoned the spectre of the 90s’ Scandinavian black metal scene. It’s a style that has never truly gone away, albeit with varying levels of success depending on the outfit concerned. And I have to say that, despite the singularly uninspiring artwork that adorns this EP, Kryptan have managed to create one of the most promising homages to this style of music I’ve heard in a while.
Handling all the guitars and bass himself, Mattias Norrman sounds really rather inspired, creating a succession of arresting and authentic riffs across the four compositions. From slower, more doom-laden sounds, to some genuinely cold, sharp and frosty fast-picked riffs, it’s as if Norrman was born to play this kind of music, positively revelling in the opportunity to indulge in a passion that has lain dormant at the expense of other priorities. He is also responsible for the swathes of synths that bathe the music in eerie atmospheres.
What it means is that this debut self-titled EP is irresistible, boding extremely well for the ensuing full-length debut that we’re reliably informed is in the process of being created right now. It’s a mouth-watering prospect, and I’ll be sure to keep my eyes and ears peeled on news of progress.
But back to this EP and it doesn’t take long for Kryptan to hit their stride and demonstrate just why they could be a force to be reckoned with. ‘A Giant Leap For Whoredom’ is the slightly odd name given to the opening composition, but from the very first second, we’re hit with a fast, but icy fast-picked lead guitar line, that’s quickly joined by frantic blastbeats, deeper riffs, and an audible bass that rumbles with authority at the bottom end of the music. The tortured, gritty growls and snarls of Alexander Högbom are the perfect accompaniment to the bitter, raw soundscape that surrounds him. The pace is rapid for the most part, but there are sections where the music slows to inject more by way of dark atmosphere as well as a smidgen of doomy groove. The riffs and guitar lead lines are catchy enough in themselves, but when a greater emphasis is placed on the synths in the latter stages, the melodic intent increases wonderfully, albeit not too much.
I’m reminded of Emperor at their early best at the beginning of ‘Bedårande Barn’, thanks to a great fast-picked lead guitar line that’s both catchy and strangely malevolent. Overall, this is a slower track that introduces greater atmosphere and sense of cloying doom, enhanced by the layers of synths that seek to suffocate and entice. That said, the frantic tempos are evident at points when required. As the track draws to a close, the tempo slows again and the guitar work comes to the fore, a slower reprise of that early lead line; it’s intelligent, undeniably catchy, and gets right under my skin.
Norrman’s doom influences are writ large at the beginning of ‘Blessed Be The Glue’, thanks largely to an intro that features the sounds of church bells which duet with the synths. The quality is impressively consistent, as the trio deliver another composition that lives long in the memory, thanks to clever changes of pace, from brisk black metal to chunkier doom-style riffs, complete with a few pinched harmonics and moments of Gothic-like keyboard-led sinister minimalism. Vocalist Alexander Högbom also plays around with some gruff spoken-word delivery in the centre of the track, which only adds to the intrigue and sense of theatre as far as I’m concerned.
The final composition to feature on this release is the charmingly-titled ‘Burn The Priest’. Kryptan do not significantly deviate from their chosen modus operandi, but neither should they. It’s another cracking track that blends ferocity with a strange, almost compelling hypnotic quality, generally created at the hands of Mattias Norrman with his guitar playing. If anything though, this might just be the most overtly melodic of the four songs, especially later in the song as thunderous drumming supports yet another compelling but ice-cold lead guitar line.
I almost gave this release a miss because of the uninspiring artwork that adorns this self-titled debut EP. Thankfully, I did end up investigating it, because if I hadn’t, I’d have been much the poorer for it. Kryptan create quality black metal that sounds vital and interesting, whilst also harkening shamelessly back to a previous time, a time when Scandinavia was utterly peerless when it came to extreme metal, particularly of the black metal variety. If you haven’t already, check this out and join me in impatiently waiting for a full-length debut.
The Score of Much Metal: 88%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: