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The Stygian Rose

United States Country of Origin: United States

1. Glimmers In The Underworld
2. Thunder (Perfect Mind)
3. Down In The Hollow
4. Heavy Is The Crown Of Bone
5. Scrying Orb
6. The Stygian Rose

Review by Vladimir on June 17, 2024.

Although I am very familiar with the US epic doom metal band Crypt Sermon, it is a cardinal sin to admit that I have never really taken my time to properly check out their entire discography, despite all the praise they got over the years. It had taken me some time to get things together and decide to erase my mistakes, but the opportunity could not have been better when their third full-length album The Stygian Rose was released on June 14th, 2024 via Dark Descent Records. As I stand before the rusty gates with a lantern in my hand, looking at the murky world that lies in the distance, I have decided to venture forth into the unknown and seek out The Stygian Rose.

While gazing at the 'Glimmers In The Underworld', you witness the gates open in front of you, while immediately transcending into the beauty and majesty of The Stygian Rose that stands before you. From the very get-go, you realize instantly that you are destined for a nice ride with this journey to the world beyond the gates, where you as the main protagonist embrace the destiny to go 'Down In The Hollow', and embrace the darkness that awaits on the other side. Crypt Sermon certainly delivers with its use of melodic heavy riffing, mid-tempo drumming and epic singing vocals of Brooks Wilson, all of which provide this dark and atmospheric output that creates such powerful images in your mind as the album progresses. If you expected more than your usual epic doom and gloom on The Stygian Rose, you will certainly get it on the 'Heavy Is The Crown Of Bone', because it has a pretty odd-tempo progressive and technical breakdown that turned out to be a very big surprise, which nonetheless managed to fit incredibly well with the established foundation of the album. Aside from that, we have some instances of tender and easy musicality, such as the clean guitar chords on the fifth track 'Scrying Orb', showcasing some musical ideas of early 90’s Solitude Aeternus mixed with a bit of King Diamond, while experiencing even more enchanting moments filled with might and magic. All the way through, this album has a lot of strong moments in it, and just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, you behold the grand majesty of the epic closing track, the proud bearer of the album title, none other than 'The Stygian Rose'. In its eleven minutes and ten seconds of runtime, this is by far the biggest climax that encompasses everything great you have witnessed on your long journey, and it gives this incredible sense of closure when this majesty of an album draws to an end.

Crypt Sermon had a very good delivery on the songwriting aspect for the entire album, providing plenty of dynamic ideas that are well combined with their primary musical simplicity, without ever feeling stuffed or thinned out. It’s hard to tell where The Stygian Rose as a whole won me over the most, but I can definitely highlight its gloomy atmosphere and the all-around melodic work that goes from one song to another, giving some stylistic consistency to the album, but still leaving enough space to introduce some nice surprising moments that instantly get your attention. Whenever people say that doom metal is plagued with one-dimensional, repetitive and lazy songwriting, it mostly comes from the fact that there is a lot of surface-level thinking without putting too much thought or focus towards other gems that are scattered all around, but in the case of a band such as Crypt Sermon, they do the exact opposite by giving you a lot of anti-monotone songs and ideas that make it worth the while. If you had to ask me what my favorite song, or songs on this album are, it is without a doubt the final track 'The Stygian Rose', because these days you rarely get an album with a very lengthy track that keeps your attention all the way through, while closing the gates to the world on the other side, as the screen slowly shifts to black with the end credits rolling. Another thing that I liked about The Stygian Rose is the album cover that was designed by the vocalist Brooks Wilson and what he gave us is a nice retro painting style cover art that looks like something that could be seen framed in a very old haunted house, whilst capturing that essence of Crypt Sermon’s musical output. As for the production work by Arthur Rizk and Aidan Elias, there is not much I could add except that the fact that their final product paid off well by giving the album a very top-notch sound, making The Stygian Rose a very high-quality produced epic doom metal album.

Overall, it is a highly subjective matter whether an epic doom metal album such as this is your cup of tea or not, but I personally enjoyed The Stygian Rose for its powerful songwriting and generally strong performance. It truly is a journey worth experiencing, especially if you let go of your thoughts and just let the album play with your mind, and the result of it can be easily summarized with the second track 'Thunder (Perfect Mind)'. Crypt Sermon did a very good job with this epic collection of songs, and I think I’ll be revisiting this one more frequently when autumn comes, to fully experience it in a very authentic and melancholic doom and gloom.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10