Cryptborn are a relatively new death metal act from Finland, and In the Grasp of the Starving Dead is their debut EP. It was initially released on cassette tape in July of 2011 by Detest Records, but this filthy, old-school EP will finally see a proper CD release when Dark Descent Records reissues it in mid-September. Heavily influenced by old school Swedish death metal, In the Grasp of the Starving Dead hardly offers anything new to the genre, but it provides a decent punch in the face for those who still haven't gotten their filthy early death metal fix. Although Cryptborn may still have a bit of work to do when it comes to writing memorable and original riffs, this is a promising beginning for a talented young group.
Right off the bat, it's clear that the Swedish demo-trading days were highly influential to Cryptborn, and the filthy downtuned riffing of bands like Entombed obviously made a mark on this band's development. I'd even venture to say that In the Grasp of the Starving Dead is even filthier than most old school death metal pioneers - the raw, unpolished production parred with grimy and fat guitar tones make this EP sound as if it were from over 20 years ago. The production often sounds a bit too messy and unpolished for my tastes, despite it suiting the music well. A slightly more professional production, while still remaining raw and intense, would've suited the music even better, though. In terms of songwriting, Cryptborn could also use a bit of improvement. Most riffs here are fairly generic and unmemorable, and Cryptborn does very little to differentiate themselves from the hordes of old school death metal clones on the scene today. I enjoy In the Grasp of the Starving Dead while I'm hearing it, but it doesn't lay down enough memorable sections or variation to make this EP any more than a decent listen once its 27 minute duration comes to an end.
In the Grasp of the Starving Dead isn't a perfect EP, and Cryptborn still could use some work before they take the death metal community by storm, but it shows tons of promise - and that's ultimately what's most important when we're talking about debut efforts. Although technically imperfect, In the Grasp of the Starving Dead shows that Cryptborn have a relentless, "fuck you!" attitude that's sure to get them to higher places in the coming years. I may not be blown away by this EP, but I'll keep an eye on where this band heads in the future. 2.5 stars seem fair here.
1. A Feast for the Grave (intro)
2. Gift of Rotten Flesh
3. In the Grasp of the Starving Dead
4. A Nebulous Parting
5. Rotten Gates of Heaven
6. Never Perfect When You Die
7. Atonement From Hell