Kryoburn - Enigmatic Existence - Candlelight Records 2005
From the desert wasteland of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and roughly three hours from the nearest major interstate comes Kryoburn. The past three-odd years have found the band criscrossing the country on nationwide tours with no label support, building a name for themselves out of blood, sweat, and blue-blooded American heavy metal. Big surprise then, that they finally slowed down to record a debut album, which was laid down at Eddy Garcia's studio. Having long been a supporter of the metal underground, having Eddy Garcia's stamp of approval may not have all the flash of a Colin Richardson endorsement, or a guest-hosting spot on Headbanger's Ball 2, but it's damn sure got credibility, that's for sure.
And now, on to the album itself. All name-dropping and Pantera, Pissing Razors, Strapping Young Lad comparisons aside, I found 'Transience' to be thankfully devoid of the carbon copy syndrome. Kryoburn enters the arena with a sound much "cleaner" sound than the first two bands mentioned, but without the utterly chaotic madness of the latter. Also, the chorus slows to an almost singalong pace, which - I'll be honest here - doesn't really work when compared to the staccato rage of the rest of the song. Still, it's part of Kryoburn's sound, and it does serve to differentiate them from the half-hearted attempts made by far too many bands to be "the next" Meshuggah. 'Singularity' melds chopped-up riffwork to keys that seem there more to colour the song than to be anything worthy of focus. I'm not a big fan of the overuse of keyboards in the heavier realms of metal, as they often tend to make me feel like I'm walking through an arcade full of angry DDR players. Kryoburn knows to leave well enough alone though, it seems. Vocalist Todd Brashear is likely as not the bastard child of Gary Meskill and Rob Flynn, which is most evident to these ears in 'Break Away', which could've been lifted from the demos for the last Machine Head album. This brings me to my main issue with Enigmatic Existence. As in 'Transience', Kryoburn slow things down and sometimes totally drop the guitars completely to employ keyboards for effect, or to explore a song's dynamics. The problem is, here, that when reliant fully on keyboards and harmonized vocals to carry a song's middle section, there needs to be something interesting happening in order to hold the listener's attention. In some cases here, there is, but in some...well, not so much. 'Against My Evil' is one of the cases in which Kryoburn succeeds, the drums hammering quick double-bass patterns under an elongated keyboard/riff progression, and really bringing something enjoyable to the table. There's a little of a Fear Factory quality to Kryoburn's music, albeit far less mechanical and not nearly as apocalyptic in delivery. Processed vocals and stomping riffs carry 'Leech', the drumwork of Chris Huber again standing out. Enigmatic Existence ends with 'To Pieces', an over-the-top thrash attack, complete with brutal riffage and harmonies that work together to close the album on a high note.
Being as this is Kryoburn's first album, it'd be easy to pick apart, and dissect every little imperfection. I refuse to, though, because I see the potential here, and it's fucking huge. My advice would be to pick up Enigmatic Existence, and pick it up now, because the next album is probably going to be nothing short of a classic.