The Book of Suffering (Tome 1)

An interesting thing has happened in extreme metal over the last twenty or so years.  As a genre, death metal once looked like it was limitless- not necessarily in terms of speed, technicality or the abstract idea of “brutality” but regarding where the style could go creatively.  The aforementioned traits no doubt were going to be challenged but instead of honed in the proper dynamic form, they became exercises and pissing contests,  and the true nature of exploring the means to communicate death metal thematically was tossed by the wayside in favor of getting kids to share YouTube videos mired in comments about the dexterity of the material but not the substance of arrangement.  Death metal had jumped the shark, and despite their many attempts to reinvent themselves with the trends that came and went in extreme metal, Cryptopsy became the poster child for flash over substance within the death metal format.

Like myself, you may have read countless glowing reviews of The Book of Suffering, but what I see among the somewhat unanimous praise is a glaring listening problem the metal community has developed since metal became a talent show- the aforementioned focal points of speed, complexity, and “brutality” that used to be vehicles to drive a message in metal became the message itself.  Every band that has participated in the peacock warfare of ability over substance is getting praised as the next big thing and listeners have forgotten what the music they are listening to is supposed to consist of- something Cryptopsy is the most guilty of not just throughout the missteps of their back catalog but here on their newest release.

The band here is hitting all of the right notes, but an experienced music fan will note that Cryptopsy sounds more like they are doing a damn fine Cryptopsy impression than truly owning their material- something perhaps unavoidable after numerous changes in lineup and song authorship as well as style throughout their career.  When your focus as you flounder from these changes becomes hitting the surface traits that defined your best releases, a record like this is what you’ll get- four essentially interchangeable songs of “fast,” “technical,” and “brutal.”   If this is all you need in your death metal, this may be your new favorite record, but with the endless onslaught of metal all over the internet, it is our collective duty to be more discerning.

Discernment in extreme metal has gone the way of good extreme metal songwriting- essentially extinct.   Most review sites are praising every record regardless of content if the production is massive, and those who bring nothing new to the table are often cited as doing just that but “doing a great job of their (copped) style,” which quite frankly shouldn’t be good enough.  Not every record has to break the mold but should come across as genuine.  Cryptopsy hasn’t felt genuine to me since And Then You’ll Beg, but can anyone else hear that over the all the fast, technical, and brutal?

Extreme metal fans should be the most discerning, smartest music listeners on the planet, protective of expression as art and condemning of those who pose.  If this does not interest you as a metal fan, enjoy The Book of Suffering, because it is truly all your fault.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jerry Hauppa
February 1st, 2016


  1. Commented by: Cirkus-Lizard

    This is a great write up. The metal review world needs more of this. Metal is full of great musicians that can play better than probably any time in the genre’s history. It is sorely lacking artists that can create something new, memorable and timeless.

  2. Commented by: diggedy

    I thought this write up was awful, actually. Maybe the writer should have left the metal reviewer politics to a separate opinion piece. I would have loved to know why exactly the new Cryptopsy EP fails to deliver to the writer’s satisfaction, but instead we’re dancing around the fire as I’m told that all other metal review sites aren’t being critical enough, that Youtube and social media are ruining metal, that casual metal fans don’t REALLY know what constitutes good metal and that metal fans should be the most opinionated assholes in the music world, and that they should demand that bands be more authentic and innovative and that anything less should be incessantly shamed.

    Granted, there’s a lot of annoyance within the saturated technical death metal world and quality song craft has been replaced by “metal as sport” all too often. However, it’s way more annoying to read a “review” on a website you visit daily and feel like you’re being attacked personally for not “listening to the music the correct way.” In my opinion, be overly critical of metal if you must, but gross generalizations like this review tell me the reviewer needs to go play with his 10-20 strong album record collection with ONLY the most essential, timeless albums, according to said reviewer of course. Maybe find other elitist fans and you can all argue amongst yourselves which bands have shittier releases.

  3. Commented by: Jerry

    I explained why I wasn’t satisfied- the songs have no character and resemble exercises in extremity rather than songs written in an extreme genre as a means to communicate themes unique to the band. When you listen to this record, what is the band saying to you? Can you hear the creative drive behind the record? Can you hear a voice that will need to speak regardless of who hears it? Because what I hear is the need to take the superficial aspects of their later works and wrap it around a voiceless kernel in order to appear that they are firing on all cylinders while being oblivious to the fact that the songs in the past were strong beyond their superficial merits. It’s a case of a band being unaware of their own strengths and character and grasping at straws after multiple lineup changes, ultimately settling on their immediately gratifying traits because that’s all the current generation can hear and vomit back to them on their Facebook wall.

    But you are welcome to disagree- maybe you could tell me what you thought was good about the record.

  4. Commented by: Guilliame

    I have a hard time understanding why your dismay at current Cryptopsy not equaling None So Vile means that the entire world of Death Metal is without substance, praised by poseurs, or generally sucks. I think it’s nonsense. Not only am i missing this larger generalized connection, i see no particulars on why THIS album (did you forget this recording is the subject and reason for this page~?) isn’t up to snuff. Seems it’s generally without something of substance, whatever that be. Also, the notion Death Metal is like extreme Shakespearean art is also nonsense. Cannibal Corpse? Hammer Smashed Face? Autopsy…if anything, Death Metal may be taken TOO seriously here.

  5. Commented by: Jerry

    This has nothing to do with the record not being None So Vile. Cryptopsy used to be able to write songs that were developed into unique identities through concrete melodic ideas all the way up to their self-titled but not here. This is because of the modern metal notion of flash and jarring rhythmic shifts over melodic themes. Hammer Smashed Face, regardless of the low brow nature of the band, has a defining melody that not only develops the song but showcases the character of the band, giving it a timeless appeal you won’t hear in The Book of Suffering, which is mired in the trappings of the era it was written in. But I acknowledge that people hear different things in music,and would love to hear not only what those who disagree like about the album and give it staying power. Also, which modern death metal releases do you feel stand toe to toe with the classics? I am always looking to finding new substantial things to listen to.

  6. Commented by: Jerry

    One thing to note is that if you seek insight from a review site, know that it is the critic’s job to inform the reader about the quality of the record in question. This of course will be decided with both the objective record and the listener’s musical processing history in mind, so there will be room for disagreements, but the last thing you should look for in a review is unjust praise regarding novelty or the band’s stature. I didn’t listen to this record wanting to dislike it any more than I wanted to write a misleading review for the readers when I strongly feel a certain way about it. If I am ignoring the record’s strengths and have written an unfair review, perhaps a counterpoint review is in order?

    Also there ARE strong current releases in the genre- see the most recent TON and Sickening Horror records for well-written, dynamic technical death metal.

  7. Commented by: xrefused

    You raise an excellent point. There is a lot of good newer music, but so much death metal is style over substance. I really feel that the quality of riffs has suffered, and become interchangeable, and overly sterile in the last few years. I was excited for this ep, but I feel like there is very little to hold on to after repeated listens.

  8. Commented by: Allred

    I thought this was a good review. Reviews are simply one man’s opinion, and the review successfully related the opinions/feelings the writer had towards the material. A review doesn’t have to be a simple run down of why a song is good or bad, a different approach can be a breathe of fresh air… Anyways, I did like the EP, it’s chaotic Cryptopsy, not their best or their worst… Though I did enjoy their 2012 self titled offering more than the new EP.

  9. Commented by: Guilliame

    Skinless, Sarpanitum, Desecresy, Thy Darkened Shade, Obliteration, Carcass, Misery Index, Vastum, Jungle Rot, Ade, Allegaeon …I haven’t been able to buy a lot of new music but these from the last several years are pretty groovy and memorable. I appreciate you may find the Cryptopsy not up to your standards but to cast a broader claim of trends in Death Metal is weird considering how many bands and countries there are making different Metal. If you don’t find new Gorguts good and just ‘jarring and brutal…” well, that is your taste. I still think you are on a soapbox here more than reviewed this album, giving me an idea what to expect.

  10. Commented by: Guilliame

    “One thing to note is that if you seek insight from a review site, know that it is the critic’s job to inform the reader about the quality of the record in question. This of course will be decided with both the objective record and the listener’s musical processing history in mind, so there will be room for disagreements, but the last thing you should look for in a review is unjust praise regarding novelty or the band’s stature.”

    Jeez, now your going to instruct us on what reviewing is, what to expect!? Nobody said anything about expecting a glowing review. I expected a review of the particulars oft THIS record, which i didn’t get, just a lot of pontificating about a general downward direction in Death Metal, which i think is nonsense.

  11. Commented by: Jerry

    If the album had particulars, I would have discussed them. That was the point of the review.

  12. Commented by: Longdeadgod

    Major fact left out of the review is cryptopsy helped spearhead this modern tech style the reviewer seems to dislike, so clearly must have went into review with an idea of what to expect. My opinion of the track posted is the boys are trying to recapture the sound that gave them original cred, but not quite cutting it. They fucked up with a couple bad records, hard to come back.

  13. Commented by: Jerry

    I don’t want to sound petty in this discussion, but the way I went about reviewing the record was done so to provide reasoning why the band’s current approach is not up to snuff and why most current tech death is following suit. Giving background for my rationale was done in order so that the reader could determine what I hoped to get out of the record, and if that is the same as the reader, they could decide if my critique was valid enough to determine if they were to give the record a shot or not. Like I said, different people listen for different things, and as you read what I wrote, you came to the conclusion that you are listening for something different than I was. And that is totally fine, and part of the human experience. Those that felt the same about the genre knew what to expect about the record, and those that didn’t did not allow my opinion to waver their interest in the record.

    Also, for the record, I love technical death metal, play in a technical death metal band and cite Cryptopsy as one of my main influences. i still went into this record objectively knowing it was essentially a different band, and as a standalone effort it still missed the mark for me. Apologies if you were offended by the wording of my review, but I do believe that extreme metal could be salvaged if the crutches that the faltering bands rely on get exposed in favor of more coherent songwriting and melodically-based songs. Thanks for reading, and if you dig the record, dig it. The best music critic is the one between your ears after all.

  14. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I kind of agree. so much current death metal seems to be like…an exercise in who can be the most technical, the fastest, and have the most jagged beatdown part. that’s really not what I look for in metal, to be honest.

  15. Commented by: PoopNuggs

    theres just way too many fucking bands sprouting up with similar sounds. Too many clones out there. People need to stop following trends (not referring to Cryptopsy necessarily) and find their own style. It can be technical death metal, just do something worthwhile and memorable damnit, leave an impression.

  16. Commented by: Guilliame

    There is no “collective” duty. Discernment in Extreme Metal is a ridiculous concept. The notion “all” review sites praise…is bullshit. If this were some cavernous Bestial monotonous Death, you would probably endorse it. This isn’t even Technical Death Metal. It is Cryptopsy and decent as that goes. So you don’t like it. Your prerogative. To make broad criticisms of the entire Death Metal scene based on this fucking album is bullshit. Leaving out every particular of what makes this album, this album makes for a Soapbox Sermon masquerading as a fucking Death Metal review. I agree there are lots of bands that sound like this but there are lots of bands that have the Buzzsaw sound, Black Metal bands that sound similar… there are all sorts of metal releases that are different.

  17. Commented by: Jerry

    You are choosing not to read into my arguments. I gave a history into where technical death metal jumped the shark to show where and why Cryptopsy lost their creative and compositional edge. What made you get into metal? For many listeners, it was the compositional strengths of the music. If we choose to not be discerning about the metal we hear, we might as well listen to pop, where structure doesn’t matter but vocal hooks do. Nothing I’ve said about the death metal scene currently is untrue. And you are the only one generalizing by claiming that I would praise a generic record. I said many times that this album does not have a leg to stand on in terms of song character and that is why you aren’t getting the particulars you are looking for in the review. If you have a differing opinion on its strengths, please let me know what I’ve missed out on. But I will say that I’ve listened to metal for a long enough time where I feel confident in my abilities to understand compositional strengths.

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