I’m the first one to hark back to those glory days of the early 90s, where Morbid Angel, Obituary, and Deicide reigned supreme. And though it’s true that earlier efforts by all those bands remain some of my favourite death metal albums, if I’m forced to nudge nostalgia aside and look at things objectively, I think that None So Vile is my favourite death metal album ever.
I was admittedly late to the party, as it was at least a couple of years after its 1996 release that I first heard this album and indeed, Cryptopsy itself. Having already made their presence known with their impressive 1994 debut Blasphemy Made Flesh, the band crowned it off to perfection with this legendary follow-up. Line-up wise, it saw the debut of Eric Langlois and his mighty bass chops, which was the final piece in the puzzle as far as the band members were concerned. He served as the perfect rhythmic companion to the incomparable Flo Monieur, whose breakneck blastbeats and breath-taking musicianship had already made their presence felt on the last record. Credit must also be given to producer Pierre Rémillard, as it’s his work that proves to be the icing on the cake as far as making this record goes.
Opening with a fittingly portentous sample from The Exorcist 3, the album kicks off at face-ripping tempo with Crown Of Horns, as we’re introduced to the band’s chaotic world by one of Lord Worm‘s trademark screams. It’s soon punctuated by a scalpel-sharp yet wonderfully musical solo by Jon Levasseur, the likes of which prove to be another standout for this album. As the second track Slit Your Guts kicks in, it’s so far, so death metal, until we’re treated to another excellent lead break from Levasseur, swiftly followed by a truly devastating hyper blast by Mounier. You think you’ve heard everything until the song drops into a truly infectious beat-down which showcases Langlois and Mounier perfectly, as well as affording Worm the opportunity to lay down some of his most guttural grunts.
And the pace rarely lets up from thereon in. When I say ‘pace’ it’s not just relentless speed I’m talking about. That’s certainly there in bucket-loads but this album is so well put together that the mid-tempo sections never feel like the band are hanging back and just complement each track perfectly. By the time we reach Benedictine Convulsions we’re gifted a twangy bass groove and another beat-down of immense proportions, not to mention an extended growl to rip open the earth from Worm.
it still reigns supreme, a quarter of a century on…
The brief piano intro of Phobophile proves to be the album’s only audio respite, but even this is chilling and unnerving, putting you on edge just in time for some more face-ripping hyper blasts from Monieur, some of Levasseur‘s most memorable riffs as well as one of his most virtuoso solos. The impactful Lichmistress is the album’s shortest track at two and a half minutes, setting up epic album closer Orgiastic Disembowelment, which contains a little of everything that makes this release so special, from jaw-dropping speed and infectious grooves to superb songwriting and stunning musicianship. It’s rounded off memorably by Bruce Campbell’s Army of Darkness sample, leaving us beaten and bruised in the dust and wondering just exactly what happened.
And that’s another thing that makes this album so impactful. At just thirty-two minutes long it doesn’t hang around and is all the better for it. Never once does it feel rushed, despite its efficient delivery, probably because the tracks are so well-crafted, they allow ample space for both atmosphere and groove as well.
Lord Worm may not be up there with John Tardy or Frank Mullen, but he was perfect for Cryptopsy and a vital piece of the puzzle. For me, his successor Mike DiSalvo’s more metalcore delivery didn’t work for the band, so I was glad to see him back for 2005’s Once Was Not. That said, nothing the band have done since or will ever do will match this classic, and it still reigns supreme, a quarter of a century on.
Scribed by: Simon Brotherton