Sunday, January 8, 2012
Newcomers Cryptodira Release The Four Quarters (2012)
So what the heck is a Cryptodira? Questions about the band's name took priority over anything else, even listening to the EP - they certainly had my attention at that point. But the curious thing is that a Cryptodira is a taxonomic suborder concerning turtles and tortoises. Um... what? Regardless of where the guys got their name, I find it pretty interesting and creative that they pulled the name out of thin air (though I'm sure it has a story behind it). Before Mike and his crew came along, I hadn't even heard the word before. To be honest, I'd still love to hear why they chose it as their name.
On the whole, The Four Quarters is definitely enjoyable. I'll say that much. But I don't find it particularly unique, especially when I chalk up similarities between it and Between the Buried and Me. I can't call myself a fan of Between the Buried and Me either because they unnecessarily draw out their music, but Cryptodira does exactly the opposite, wrapping their songs in tidy and neat little packages that don't feel like a chore to listen to. And that's a plus. On the contrary, I find the clean vocals weak and slippery sounding as if they're carelessly slapped on top of the music. The harsh vocals lack the oomph an aspiring death metal band requires - and that's just it - they strike me as more of a metalcore type of vocal instead of the deep, gruff growl characteristic of so many death metal bands. That's really the only downfall to the EP, in my eyes. By adding a new vocalist to the ranks, the band will move one step closer to their ultimate goal of being progressive death metal. Well, that and a substantial change in sound, of course.
Naturally, the musicianship on The Four Quarters is very good, a highly satisfying listen at that. The first time I gave the EP a run through, however, it went straight through me and nothing stuck, but that's what additional listens are for: to pull apart and really understand what you're listening to. Cryptodira's music isn't all that complicated, but it does employ some interesting time signatures that home in on the proposed progressive nature of their music. Three of the four tracks are over six minutes as well, so this really isn't casual or easy listening for the normal music lover. But back to the musicianship - it's surprisingly tight and clean for what appears to be a demo-like EP. The drumming is probably what I enjoy the most, and I normally don't favor groovy drumming, but instead speedier drummers with lots of intricate fills. I typically find groovier drummers too repetitive, but Taibi has done a nice job of mixing his playing up. Blast beats are gooooood. And so are the crunchy guitars found all over the EP.
The overall verdict on The Four Quarters is a positive one. You've got a band full of charisma and pizazz which should carry them throughout the music world. Gentle post rock sections mesh nicely with heavier passages. Vocals could be improved, but in the grand scheme of things, the qualm is relatively minor. In the end, though, this is a well-done collection of music, not perfect, but indeed pleasant.
Download the band's EP for free in 128kbps quality at this location. Here's to hoping higher quality becomes available.