Cryptosis—Bionic Swarm (Century Media)
On Bionic Swarm, Cryptosis sounds like what you would imagine a killer prog metal band to sound like out of Bladerunner’s universe. The Dutch trio’s (formerly known as Distillator) debut album under the new moniker is equal parts futuristic, brooding, and most importantly, human. Bionic Swarm is just as technical and mind-bending as any fantastic progressive metal album should be, but in its ambitious and broad scope, it never loses sight of the primary goal: crafting a solid metal album.
The three members of Cryptosis know that they’re good and they don’t need to waste time explaining it to you.
Bionic Swarm is a triumph that can only be accomplished when a band sheds the pretension adorned by many progressive metal acts and accomplishes what it sets out to do. Cryptosis pulls from every style in the metal book and expands on them with their vision and creative flair. Singles “Death Technology” and “Decypher” are well-chosen examples of what the band does best: breakneck heavy metal steeped in technicality that kicks the door in, but doesn’t overstay its welcome.
While Cryptosis undeniably have earned the right to be called futuristic, there are many lizard-brain moments on Bionic Swarm that help punctuate the lightning-fast guitar playing and intricate songwriting. The creeping, twangy introduction of “Prospect of Immortality” dissolves into a vicious stop-start rhythm one minute in before seamlessly evolving into the band’s established blend of forward-thinking thrash metal. The ending of “Conjuring the Egoist” does similarly with chanted vocals alongside Marco Prij’s ominous drumming over a backdrop of frenzied riffing.
The shared vocals between lead guitarist Laurens Houvast and bassist Frank te Riet are savage and visceral in their delivery. Bionic Swarm is littered with vocal performances like “Game of Souls” that hark back to Max Cavalera’s delivery on classics like Arise and Beneath the Remains. In Cryptosis’ imagining of 2149, there are no vocoders, only people clinging to their humanity and fighting for survival in a futuristic wasteland, by embracing their primitive, knuckle-dragging instincts.
Unlike many of its contemporaries, Bionic Swarm is not a record that trips on its own feet; theatrics and technicality never take over center stage and murk up what is a fantastic metal album at heart. It is a futuristic album, not because it is perfect, polished, and clinical, but because it evokes an existential dread and envisions a fight for survival that isn’t too difficult to imagine one hundred years or so down the line – and it sounds damn great doing so.