Crypt Monarch - The Necronaut (2021)
Hailing from Costa Rica, the power trio of Crypt Monarch are making their debut with this three-song, thirty-six-minute album, recorded (according to the liner notes) “live in a cabin in the woods.” Thanks to their name and some woodcut cover art (especially that fine shade of purple), they've got a good sense of character from the start. That's especially welcome, since for the most part, the vocals aren't the focus on this album.
The evocatively titled “Morning Star Through Skull” opens things up, leaning into some heavy, hard-landing beats and long-sustain riffs to build up an atmosphere of rumbling aggression. As the song plays on, the violent aspects get more life, from bellowing vocals to fuller body on the guitar's ringing chords, and while the finishing moments don't quite pull out a solid conclusion, it still has enough appreciable moments before then to have stoner doom fans nodding along. “Rex Meridionalis” (your guess is as good as mine on the meaning; 'King of the middle,' maybe?) picks up in a similar style once “Morning Star Through Skull” winds to a close. Once it hits its stride, though, it brings in some winding riffage alongside some metallic percussion for a nicely creepy serpentine vibe. As they lay in some heavy distortion and lean further into the riff, the rhythms hit fantastically, making for a real dark groove tune.
“Aglaophotis” keeps up the mystery titling, and finds the band taking more of a fuzz feedback tone for the guitar, feeling a bit like a lost B-side from Come... My Fanatics, at least instrumentally. The vocals get pushed way down in the mix, leaving the yells as muffled periphery. A late-song shift into more melodic focus helps put a nice capper on the album, with the circling low notes feeling like a sliding comedown. Throw in a distorted sample at the very end, and what you've got is a confident, well-realized album of deep-submersion stoner doom. Sure, there are rough spots here and there, and the length of the songs leads to some filler, but for the first album from the group, and one that was recorded live, it's more than satisfactory. Check this one out if you wish Demon Head had continued more in the vein of their original demo.
For Fans Of; Candlemass, DoomLord, early Electric Wizard, Pilgrim, Reverend Bizarre