CRYPT OF KERBEROS - The Macrodex of War (BLEED Records CD 2005)
I've never been big fan of Crypt of Kerberos, to be honest, and among all Swedish death metal bands from the early 90's, they belong to my least favourite. It's all because "World of Myths" album from 1993 is so lame and pissing me off that I just can't listen to it. But Kerberos did also some better and more interesting recordings prior to their debut CD, such as two demos and 7"EPs. And all these rare recordings have been compiled on the CD titled "The of War" (called after , which was a band, where some Crypt of Kerberos members played previously).
"The of War" contains a whole bunch of cool and rare stuff. You'll find here both demos from 1991, both 7"EPs and some previously unreleased recordings. So, it is an interesting journey into the past and through the history of this rather lesser known band.
This CD starts with "Demo#1 1991" and I have to say I like this demo a lot. It is so much better from that more progressive music on the debut album that it seems like a completely different band. Crypt of Kerberos present here really great doomy death metal, played in that very harsh and kind of primitive way (all in all, this is a demo), but I can already hear many great ideas, arrangements, melodies, riffs... First song "Sacrifice" is especially awesome, it probably is the best song this band has recorded. I really like that sluggish, but filled with some hooky melodies, Swedish death metal, highly influenced by Paradise Lost, even if it sounds sloppy and coarse. But that harshness gives this music some sort of charm, which I'm very fond of. By the way, I saw that original copy of this demo sells even for 60-80 euros on , which is just fuckin insane.
Kerberos' second demo from 1991 contains five songs and is very alike to the first cassette, maybe slightly better produced and a bit better performed. But general idea is the same, so think of death metal focused on slow paced, heavy crushing sound and some mournful melodies. Is it any good? Oh yeah, I like both 1991 demos a lot and I think that in this sort of death metal style Crypt of Kerberos matched the quality of Eternal Darkness, if we speak of the Swedish scene. Here "Yule Horror" is especially noteworthy song. Great melodies, nice gloomy feel, some keyboards... and again, strong influence from Paradise Lost and British death / doom metal in general.
Next up is "Cyclone of Insanity" 7"EP from 1992, probably a highlight of death metal style of Crypt of Kerberos. Band definitely improved their music in every aspect - from its diversity, ideas, arrangements, performance, etc, to the production value, while the style is pretty much intact (maybe it is slightly more up tempo, which is why sometimes the music reminds me Bolt Thrower). Which means they didn't experiment, didn't come up with that progressive style, which one year later appeared on the debut album. And that transition between both these recordings is even more weird to me. Anyway, both songs from "Cyclone of Insanity" are damn good and I cannot say anything bad about them. It kills me that I used to own the original 7", but sold it along with all the rest of my 7" collection decade ago.
To be honest, next bunch of songs on this CD are crap. There’s a rehearsal recording from 1992, which is just a mess of a recording, nothing interesting, to be honest. And there’s also a preproduction demo from 1992, where they already sound like the band I know from "World of Myths" - so, this also doesn’t convince me. So, to be honest, I could easily delete these few songs from this CD and there would be no harm. Damn, I hate these clean vocals they started to use in their music. What a joke.
For the end, there's "Visions Beyond Darkness" left, another 7" from 1991, which is a bit odd, because it should open the whole CD, if they wanted to keep the correct chronological order of Kerberos discography. Anyway, this EP is not as good as "Cyclone of Insanity", it is very, very raw, savage and brute death metal, with that primitive feel of the early 90's demos. As I mentioned, it is not as good as the other 7", their demos were also better. But there surely is a great historical value in this recording, from a band, which just went a transformation from to Crypt of Kerberos.