As if 2015’s Out of the Garden wasn’t enough of an epic doom showing, Crypt Sermon’s second album The Ruins of Fading Light takes their style to even loftier heights. The songs run longer, and a number of short interludes have been included to spruce up the runtime, but the arrangements themselves are more grandiose than before. There’s still a sense of danger but there is a competing aura of triumph in the extensive choral/orchestral fanfare heard throughout. Candlemass continues to be the band’s most prominent reference point, particularly the transition from their dungeon crawling debut to the more majestic Nightfall.
An emphasis on longer songs would suggest more time spent in slow doldrums, but The Ruins of Fading Light ends up being more energetic than its predecessor. The tempo shifts on songs like “Christ is Dead” and “The Snake Handler” are considerably more confident than those on Out of the Garden while the more speed-oriented tracks like “The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)” are executed with a mix of comfort and conviction. I imagine some classic metal influences creeping in, but it never loses that special doom flavor.
The musicianship also benefits greatly from this energy boost. The vocals, in particular, show massive improvement, standing more confidently in the mix and throwing off a broader range of snarls and wails. The guitars benefit from the lively production as well, balancing out the melodic riffs with an aggressive tone, and the drums provide an active pulse and occasional double bass dabbling on even the slowest dirges. The extra effects also do a good job of shaping an almost conceptual tone, filling out the sound without getting too superfluous.
Above all, the songwriting is phenomenal. Whether aiming for straightforward riff exercises or more elaborate structuring, each track manages to offer memorable melodies and a distinct mood. This is perhaps best demonstrated with the one-two punch of “The Ninth Templar” and “Key of Solomon;” both tracks are among the album’s most accessible, but each makes a different impression as the former is marked by aggressive riffs and drumming while the latter has a slower payoff. The album is admittedly a little frontloaded, but nothing wears out its welcome.
At the risk of hyperbole, The Ruins of Fading Light is proof that Crypt Sermon just might be the best epic doom metal band currently going. The heightened energy puts it leagues above their already great debut and the masterful songwriting is enough to secure it in the upper echelon of the genre. The quality is well worth the four-year wait and I hope the band will be able to take advantage of the inevitable momentum. It isn’t flawless but it’ll take an act of the gods to craft a better doom album in 2019.
“The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)”
“Key of Solomon”
“Christ is Dead”
“The Snake Handler”
“The Ruins of Fading Light”