As humans, we have a constant will to change, to evolve. The yearning for something new is what makes us different from other creatures. Sometimes we reach a crossroad that gives us a push to re-think and choose the path that suits us the most. A band formerly known as DISTILLATOR had an urge to make a change artistically and to take that step forward. A trio from Netherlands – Laurens Houvast on vocals and guitar; Frank te Riet on bass, Mellotron, and backing vocals; and Marco Prij on drums – made the most radical decision: changing the band’s name. This is not a decision to be taken lightly and it takes real guts to make such a drastic change. “Bionic Swarm” became the debut album of this newborn creature, now called CRYPTOSIS.
On diving straight into “Bionic Swarm,” the listener can immediately discover something greater in the their soundscape’s atmosphere, largely due to the background synths spread out by Frank‘s Mellotron. What is a Mellotron, you may be asking? The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical musical instrument that plays tape loops with keys, almost like a primitive synthesizer or sampler. It can be found used here or there in heavy music, from time to time, but I’ve never noticed it in thrash metal before now. CRYPTOSIS blends this instrument quite well, creating another layer of ambient sound that provides a lasting foundation for this futuristic dystopian concept album.
The whole album feels almost like it’s split into two parts, like side A and side B, which are serated by two intros. This gives the listener time to breathe and easily transition into the second side. This also gives a moment for the listener to digest the story. The first half is an absolute blast, with highlighted progressive and massive bass that is surrounded by symphonic atmospheric elements. The transitions between songs are nice and linear, with no weak links or fillers.
Opening the album with the acoustic “Overture 2149” leads you into the whole story. It is a perfect introduction to the band’s new creative vision, that is “Decypher.” It is also one of the most powerful songs the trio has recorded. The song gives the listener some powerful thrash metal that successfully blends various textures with a futuristic aesthetic that serves as a theme for the entire album. “Death Technology” keeps the same pace, with drums at fast-and-full tilt, heavy riffing, and bass that thumps along nicely. Houvast‘s guitar shredding is really prominent in the solo while he spits out the vocals with venom.
“Prospect of Immortality” gives you time to rest, as it is slower yet heavier, airing on the side of black and death metal, and has the fastest heartbeat bass. As the track moves forward, you can hear the change in their sound as the Mellotron plays a major role and the song becomes more atmospheric; the riffs and solo, however, are firmly rooted in thrash, which gives a great blend of genres. “Transcendence” is a proper full power-thrash track – the drums are pounded at breakneck speed and the guitar riffs are so sharp they’ll tear your ears while Houvast snarls and bites his way through the track.
An instrumental interlude comes in the form of “Perpetual Motion,” with a futuristic vibe in the middle of the album, acting as the aforementioned halfway-point intro. “Conjuring the Egoist” blasts right into your face from the intro with a pummeling drum beat and killer riffs that resonate while Houvast’s menacing vocals hold you spellbound. Right after the double bass drum intro fills in “Game of Souls,” the track rips forward with a heavy bass line and continues to drive forward with a machine-gun drum beat and savage guitar riffs. Don’t forget the melodic and cool solo, making this a truly powerful song.
“Mindscape” again has an atmospheric layer that gives a nice feel to the heavy guitar riffs, along with Houvast‘s hushed tone in the vocals at the start. Our ears don’t deceive us with the great atmospheric usage of the Mellotron once again. This track is slower, progressive; and with an atmospheric feel – it is a brilliant song.
At the very end, “Flu Divergence” closes the album very impressively. Hauvast, with his opening discharges, screams his way into the track. The vocals are magnificently supported by a pounding drum beat, frantic riffs, and a massive bassline. The pace is harsh from start-to-finish – a really impressive final track!
“Bionic Swarm” is a full creative product of the rebirth of a band that has reinvented itself. CRYPTOSIS‘ hybrid thrash approach brings some hope and freshness to a genre that has struggled to stay relevant in an era eager of new sound aesthetics. Its audacity and adventurous spirit make it not only a remarkable product of its time, but also one of the best albums the genre has produced recently.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Overture 2149
- Death Technology
- Prospect of Immortality
- Perpetual Motion
- Conjuring the Egoist
- Game of Souls
- Flux Divergence
Laurens Houvast – Vocals, Guitars
Frank te Riet – Bass, Mellotron
Marco Prij – Drums