An Ancient Summoning, the debut full length from Welsh death metal band Crypt Rot, opens with the sound of Justin Wallisch’s stampeding drums. Guitarist and bassist Tom Hughes starts laying down the punishing riffs. It’s the kind of intensity you want to start a death metal album. Finally, Kyle Shaun Thomas’ vocals start and the song kind of falls apart. Does Thomas have a death metal growl and/or bark? Yes. Do these vocals work with the music behind him? The best descriptor for the vocals on most of the album is Death Metal Muppet. They bounce around trying to match the riffs and the melody. It sounds like someone playing catch up. This is the work of a band trying to find it’s feet. So, we’ll start there.
Musically, this album is tight. Drummer Wallisch knows his way around guitarist and bassist Tom Hughes’ riffs. For most of the album, Wallisch sounds like he’s murdering his drum kit. Then on songs like “One Thousand Serpent Tongues” he stops and starts, hitting his kit for maximum mood. Meanwhile, Hughes’ guitar and bass propel this album forward. Hughes’s shreds and wails like his life depends on it. Listening to this album is like playing Street Fighter II and being attacked by E. Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap for 37 minutes. Wallisch and Hughes sonic assault just hits that hard.
It’s really a shame vocalist Kyle Shaun Thomas constantly sounds like he’s trying to keep pace with his band mates. His growls and shrieks attempt to match the speed of Hughes’ melodies and the ferocity of Wallisch’s drums. The rhythm of his vocals sound like if the Swedish Chef from The Muppets decided to front a death metal band. They stop and start in a slightly comical manner that detracts from the song. It’s not that Thomas can’t sing. His growls and barks are what you expect with death metal. It just sounds like he’s not sure how to combine his vocals with his bandmates sonic assault.
However, on the album highlight “One Thousand Serpent Tongues,” everyone in Crypt Rot sounds like a unit. Wallisch lays down a stream roller rhythm on the drums while Hughes’s riffs match with the beat at first. Then Thomas’ growls come in building with the song. The three of them march menacingly through the song with aplomb. Wallisch’s drums occasionally go apeshit, Hughes’s guitar lines spiraling out of control, and Thomas’ vocals holding it all down. Then the song sounds like the recording disintegrates at the end. This track is the standout of the album, even with the mentioned disintegration which is actually a complement.
Crypt Rot’s debut An Ancient Summoning is that word in every meaning. It’s a band finding it’s footing. A lot of the time, this is the sound of three people fighting against each other. Occasionally though, they unite with a sound ready to stomp all over the world.