Sunday 15 March 2020

Cryptic Shift - Visitations From Enceladus

Labels: Blood Harvest Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 04 May 2020


1. Moonbelt Immolator
2. (Petrified in the) Hypogean Gaol
3. The Arctic Chasm
4. Planetary Hypnosis

With the world heading for what could be inevitable global lockdown, a new beginning on far away planets makes perfect sense. Space dwelling death metallers Cryptic Shift think so, which is why they're about to release their debut full-length via Blood Harvest Records on May 4th. From their humble physical beginnings in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds in 2014, they released several demos, singles, an EP and a split, honing their live sound as they went. They're now ready to spread their cosmic technicality across the galaxy on all formats, including random flying disc!

Visitations From Enceladus begins with real intent in the form of the huge ‘Moonbelt Immolator’, which is spread across twenty-five+ minutes of sprawling technical death metal. The opening bars are made up of guitar passages that come and go amongst electronic interference of sorts. Cryptic Shifts’s full assault soon kicks off though with a mix of death metal akin to bands like Atheist and DBC. Cyborgs seem to take over at times during the song, with vocal effects that fit perfectly amongst the madness. It’s almost impossible to tell whether Master Boot Record had a hand in the creation of this release. Either way, the progressive and lengthy soloing is brilliant and adds to the already imaginative instrumental mid-section, which just seems to get crazier and crazier. From there on, their deathly chorus takes on a more brutal and straight-forward turn, amidst the technicality. One thing that does strike you during this song is just how well the instrumentation fits together, even with so many changes in tempo and so many transitions. The slow build has worked for Cryptic Shift so far and this record proves it.

From the mammoth galactic death metal opera that was ‘Moonbelt Immolator’, ‘(Petrified in the) Hypogean Gaol’ is a more urgent track, albeit still featuring Cryptic Shift’s technical wizardry and metallic wonderment. Again, it’s the guitar work that dominates with screaming solos sitting alongside fretboard mayhem, which remains controlled and melodic. The percussion and vocals match up by being just as crazy. Grinding tempos sit alongside subtle doom/death elements, layering a song that’s still possible to follow.

‘The Arctic Chasm’ is ominously good and it’s at this point that I realise that it’s these shorter songs that I prefer. The opener was fantastic but it struggled to find that extra bit of momentum due to the stop/start nature at times. The shorter songs seem to have no problem and it’s where Cryptic Shift really hit their stride. The riffs are bewildering here. The production/mixing/mastering also needs mentioning at this point, as the volume of the recording and the clear space that each instrument has is spot on. Both help to make the sound more engaging. There’s a lot of different phrasing and indeed movement within ‘The Arctic Chasm’, but it’s a song that just keeps on giving.

No rest is earned between it and album closer ‘Planetary Hypnosis’, which is just gung-ho. Coming in at a relatively short five-and-a-half minutes in length, nothing is slow or ponderous about it. Cryptic Shift has really found a stride at this point and it’s death metal at it’s best. You can completely see why Blood Harvest have put their name to this, as it’s quality and with the maturity that this quartet has, they’ll sit perfectly alongside the label’s ever-growing roster of quality extreme metal bands.

You can stream 'The Arctic Chasm' and pre-order the full album digitally below:-

Physical pre-orders can be placed via Blood Harvest Records here -

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