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Crypticus/Scaremaker: Dare to Enter, Die to Live

I am a long-time fan of three things--heavy metal, horror stories, and horror movies. One of the most exciting things for me is when they come together in ways that make the relationships between them seem inevitable, meant for each other. Heavy metal and horror are both obsessed with gore, death, fear, and, ultimately, survival. The point, of course, is to reflect on the nature of individual identity, the problem of human evil, and exploring the nature of the supernatural. For me, just looking at the cover of Dare to Enter, Die to Live was enough to grab my attention. I was particularly drawn to the portrait of H. P. Lovecraft in the top right corner, a face I readily recognized. For those who don't know him, Lovecraft wrote several classic works of what he called weird fiction--basically a kind of supernatural horror tinged with a fierce touch of realism. The point, for Lovecraft at least, was to remind readers that humankind only plays a tiny role within a larger cosmic realm made up of forbidden knowledge and grotesque creatures. I won't dwell much longer on the rest of the cover, only to say that it is obviously meant as a nod to the intersections between horror and metal. I should point out that the cover was drawn by Putrid, a popular artist of all things grotesque and macabre.

Crypticus is made up of two people: Patric Bruss (guitar, vocals, bass) and Brynjar Helgetun (drums). Their sound is a strong mixture of thrash with death metal vocals, with very little in between. I thought they sounded great. My favorite track, "End of the World of Men" has a hard driving riff that drives the song forward. "Baron of the Dark" also had excellent guitar parts. Listen to the way it uses a nice, crunchy, riff to establish a dark and sinister mood. Crypticus is delightfully old school. Helgetun's drumming was no less interesting. Here's a player who can mix up drum parts without endlessly turning to blast beats. I admire a drummer that looks for beats and rhythms outside of sixteenth notes. My only complaint is that the vocals needed to be a little cleaner, especially since this band prides itself on its lyrical themes that try to add to the larger body of weird literature and themes. It would be great to discover more completely the tales these guys are spinning.

Scaremaker has a similar sound and feel, but I thought that their music had a much stronger sense of menace. These guys are obsessed with horror movies and it shows. As I listened to the almost pop-infused chorus of "Demon Slave" I couldn't help but think that it would be an excellent part of the closing credits to a horror film. Remember when Dokken contributed a song to one of the Nightmare on Elmstreet series? "Demon Slave" will make you forget that one--here's a song that belongs in the movies. The final song, "Mansion of the Macabre," is based on the film Burnt Offerings, a gem of a movie about a sinister house that holds a secret need for human sacrifice in order to survive. I loved the way this song slowly developed a sense of paranoia about being stuck in a house, eyes watching you everywhere, and a mysterious woman living upstairs. In my opinion, this song uses the growling vocals to great effect. Check out the way the singer enunciates the word "stairs" halfway through the song. For the first time, the infamous death growl gave me the chills. "Mansion of the Macabre" is one of the best death metal songs I've heard in a long time--it is well worth your time and attention.

Track Listing:
1. Crypticus--Beauty and Deceased
2. Crypticus--The Hungerer
3. Crypticus--End of the World of Men
4. Crypticus--Baron of the Dark
5. Scaremaker--From the Coffin
6. Scaremaker--Insane Die-section
7. Scaremaker--Reverberate Through the Dark Woods
8. Scarmaker--Demon Slave
9. Scaremaker--Mansion of the Macabre

Added: February 3rd 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band website
Hits: 1811
Language: english

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