The Vile Vortex
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
California’s Crepitus hasn’t been terribly active since their formation in 1994, with the first album being released in 2010, though the band has certainly picked up some momentum in recent years, releasing their sophomore full length album this year, entitled The Vile Vortex. Hence, Crepitus is by no means a newcomer to death metal music, and The Vile Vortex will come to display that the years of seeming dormancy hasn’t been completely pointless as the band proudly presents their rather atmospheric form of death metal.
The heavy emphasis on the atmospheric aspect of Crepitus‘ music is obvious right from the dark intro of the album, shrouding the music in a heavy fog and the feeling of doom and unease carries on throughout the entirety of the album. And rather than mellowing the impact of the music, this instead makes the music more oppressive and ominous, with the guitars and the drums working together to create a rather surprising result, enhanced by the dark atmosphere lurking in the backdrop. The keyboards are often utilised effectively, and unlike many symphonic bands that drown the music with keys, these are used sparingly and suitably, with the band constantly ensuring that this does not dominate the sound of the band’s music and reduce the aggressive edge. Yet unlike what one would expect from an album that is described as dark and aggressive, the riff-work on the album is seldom crushing, and is often quite the contrary as one would easily notice as the album progresses.
What made the release such a brilliant one is in how the band doesn’t completely focus on simply creating the most crushing death metal, but instead making use of many melodic passages that are littered around throughout the album and the product, as can be heard, is excellent. For example, The Vile Vortex contains many such melodic moments, not only in the lead guitar playing but also in the riffing that at times lean towards melodic death metal territory, and these make the album a more dynamic listen and allow for the emotions to really flow out more effectively rather than the standard way of hammering the messages relentlessly into the listener’s head. These slower and more melodic moments also display a slight gothic/doom metal references, with songs like Flames of Desecration reminding listeners of bands like Draconian and their sorrowful brand of doom metal.
Yet not all is slow and moody throughout the album, with songs like Primordial Chaos displaying the aggressive side of the band in its full glory, and Omnipotent Necroscope being a rather nice and catchy melodic death metal track, with the musical style and Nick’s vocals being somewhat reminiscent of Christian Alvestam and his works in Scar Symmery. And many times on the album he even sounds like Mikael Akerfeldt at his peak with Opeth.
That said though, the songwriting is not all that consistent all the time, with a few moments that are present that are rather weak, such as on tracks like Remnants, with the transitions between different styles on the track being some of the weaker links on the album, coming rather unexpectedly and causing the music to lose some of its momentum at times. However, overall The Vile Vortex is a rather enjoyable album, with the melodic and atmospheric aspect of the music being some of the most attractive points of the album, allowing them to stand out from the plethora of releases that focus too much on heaviness and brutality.