Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Cryptik Howling - Synthetic Ascension Design

Quebec, Canada is one of the most defined homes of metal. In fact, in Canada itself the province is considered the metal capitol of the country, especially when it comes to death and black metal. Cryptik Howling come from this region of the earth, and have thus far unleashed three full-length albums upon the world; Synthetic Ascension Design being their most recent endeavor. Since 2002, the outfit have undergone a few line up changes and introduce both a new drummer and guitarist into the mix in this latest release. How does this line-up change affect the material, and what is to be expected by audiences?

Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Label: Self-released/independent
Release Date: April 10th, 2013
  1. Sovereigns & Carrion Feeders
  2. World Shepherd
  3. Dead Trees
  4. Absorbing Light
  5. InSect
  6. Caligastia
  7. Dominions of Oblivious Pawns
  8. Ulysses' Death
  9. Hallowed Masquerade
  10. Soul Garden
  11. The Fool's Errand
Total Playtime: 41 minutes, 25 seconds






Rating: 6.0/10






Quebec, Canada is one of the most defined homes of metal. In fact, in Canada itself the province is considered the metal capitol of the country, especially when it comes to death and black metal. Cryptik Howling come from this region of the earth, and have thus far unleashed three full-length albums upon the world; Synthetic Ascension Design being their most recent endeavor. Since 2002, the outfit have undergone a few line up changes and introduce both a new drummer and guitarist into the mix in this latest release. How does this line-up change affect the material, and what is to be expected by audiences?

Not unlike most melodic black metal bands, the material opens with an obligatory keyboard introduction; complete with thunder, violins, rain, and soft bass kicks that pump in time with the grounding keyboard effects. What follows suit in the following tracks is a mechanical formula of early Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth inspired crusty melodic black metal. The larger body of the compositions are made up of tremolo picking, palm muted filler riffs, blast beats, double bass kicks and growly occult vocals which find themselves occasionally drifting off into chants. Although, while as typical as the main make-up of the songs are, it's the in-between bridging content that is the most appealing and captivating; the little snippets of musical composure that lie sparingly in the midst of standard riffs and structures that pervade every corner of this release.


What Synthetic Ascension Design does well is convey the dark, gloomy, occult feel that it is meant to, both lyrically and instrumentally. The content itself is evil and brooding, reinforced by the sinister vocals, cult inspired chants and eerie keyboard elements, all which set a villainous atmosphere. Be that as it may, there is too much repetition and too little variety inside the material that hinders the album from truly standing out; both amidst the tracks themselves and other artists of similar sound. Aside from a few elongated growls and screams, the vocals tend to consistently stick to the same tone rather than branch out. The guitars have a crusty, old-school black metal tone to them, which is perfectly fine, but are often found either tremolo picking or palm-mute riffing in the same sets of patterns, harmonies and scales. When the lead guitar takes over, it is usually accompanied by a clean tone and a mild, uninspired solo. The drums, despite their best efforts in "Caligastia", are often heard pounding away in the backdrop to blast beats with double bass kicks, though in the aforesaid track they do kick things up with a tropical mixture of new palpitations.

The hardest thing to overcome about the album as a whole is the overwhelming Dimmu Borgir influence that is presented. While showing influences from other artists is not something to look down on, when a good portion of the content at hand sounds like a near-exact mimic of the influencing artist, a reassessment is needed. Tracks such as "Caligastia" and "Ulysses' Death" could have ultimately been bonus songs on In Sorte Diaboli if one didn't know better. Synthetic Ascension Design isn't a bad album, but it sorely lacks creativity in nearly every imaginable aspect, save a few snippets here and there that can be caught while listening carefully between the lines.

Physical Copy Provided by: Silverwing Studios

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