A brand new track from Philly doom-metal band CRYPT SERMON makes its debut on this week’s edition of NPR.com’s Viking Playlist. The song, “Christ is Dead,” is the latest off the band’s highly anticipated new album, The Ruins of Fading Light.
CRYPT SERMON vocalist Brooks Wilson offered the following comment to NPR on the concept surrounding “Christ is Dead.”
“One need not believe in supernatural claims to recognize the impact that the death of Jesus Christ has had on our history. Fact or fiction, the story of sacrifice has profoundly shaped the aesthetics and material conditions of the world in it’s wake. But we’ve grown bitter, callous to never know the world we were promised by that one sacrifice, and now we have seen countless more sacrificed in His name or in His wrath.Christ is Dead both celebrates and laments the story of sacrifice, as we unchain ourselves from a history of suffering.”
Check out the exclusive premiere of “Christ is Dead” now at this location.
The Ruins of Fading Light is set for release on Friday, September 13 via Dark Descent Records. The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital formats.
“I have nothing more to write. This is a masterpiece.” – Metal Invader
“‘The Ruins of Fading Light’ may prove to be the best doom album of the last 25 years.” – Loudwire
A follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed debut Out of the Garden, The Ruins of Fading Light is a collection of existential meditations set to the backdrop of looming, apocryphal vestiges from a lost dark age. The lyrics explore the limits of faith and family, life and loss, strength and pride. Between thundering riffs and plaintive acoustic moments, the music explores new territories on the landscape of epic doom and heavy metal. Still, one message echos as CRYPT SERMON march onward, “We’re doomed.”
The Ruins of Fading Light was again recorded, mixed, and mastered by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, and more) at Creep Records. Album art comes courtesy of vocalist Brooks Wilson.
1 The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)
2 Key of Solomon
3 Our Reverend’s Grave
4 Epochal Vestiges
5 Christ is Dead
6 The Snake Handler
7 Oath of Exile
8 Enslave The Heathens
9 Beneath The Torchfire Glare
10 The Ruins of Fading Light
Crypt Sermon is:
Brooks Wilson (vocals)
Steve Jannson (guitars)
James Lipczynski (guitars)
Frank Chin (bass)
Enrique Sagarnaga (drums)
By: Chris Dick
The bell of doom tolls three times for every era. In the ‘80s, the great bell heralded for Candlemass’ now legendary “Nightfall” effort. In the ‘90s, the peal of dread resounded for Solitude Aeturnus’ fan-favorite “Through the Darkest Hour.” In the ‘00s, While Heaven Wept issued landmark album “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” as the decade epically rang out. Now, as the wheel of time turns inevitably again, Pennsylvania-based Crypt Sermon’s new album, “The Ruins of Fading Light,” serves as the tocsin for a new dawn in heavy metal.
Formed in 2013, Crypt Sermon’s genesis—featuring Steve Jansson (guitars), James Lipczynski (guitars), Brooks Wilson (vocals), and Enrique Sagarnaga (drums)—wasn’t prophetical. Rather, Jansson and Lipczynski’s assembly of like-minded individuals was pragmatic, sparked by a mutual admiration of Candlemass in response to a lack of more traditional metal bands in the City of Brotherly Love. After a handful of writing sessions, Philadelphia-based musicians Wilson and Sagarnaga were added to complete the lineup. In only a handful of months, Crypt Sermon were officially cast, after which the quartet issued their digital-only, three-song demo, “ Demo MMXIII,” to much acclaim and label interest.
“James and myself had no expectations when we started jamming together” says Jansson “I can remember us agreeing that finding an even marginally decent singer for this style would be a bit of a challenge because they aren’t exactly abundant, at least in the area that we knew of”. “I can remember kind of pushing Brooks to give it a go since he had expressed interest in doing rock/traditional metal singing long before Crypt Sermon and I think that worked out very well. Again, this was merely a project and we had no idea that it would become our main band. All of us are very active and passionate about music, particularly metal and have many projects and outlets. We believe 110% in everything we do but this band seemed to resonate with people”.
Crypt Sermon then spent the next two years writing, refining, and recording songs for debut album, “Out of the Garden.” The lineup shifted to Wilson moving from bass to vocals exclusively, but the years between demo and album were fruitful. Tracks like “Temple Doors,” “Heavy Riders,” “The Master’s Bouquet,” and “Into the Holy of Holies” were crafted in spirited sessions while life and work busied around the outfit. Certainly, if art is a product of the environment in which it’s created, Crypt Sermon’s “Out of the Garden” wasn’t an inner city album. Rather, Jansson and team created music that felt grandiose, storied, and not of a modern-day metropolis. Indeed, the quality of “Out of the Garden” wasn’t lost on fans or the press. Online indie tastemakers Pitchfork, Sputnik Music, No Clean Singing, and Invisible Oranges found solace in Crypt Sermon’s earnest forward lurch, while the printed press in Decibel Magazine, Metal Hammer Greece, Metal Hammer UK, Metal Hammer Germany, and Kerrang! were heavy in their kingmaking praise.
“We felt very proud of the first album, and we anticipated some positive feedback, but I don’t think we could have expected the volume of praise we were awarded,” says Wilson. “Because real doom metal is a small genre with a few big players, we expected to remain a fairly underground band. When the enthusiastic responses and rare opportunities started rolling in, we were positively humbled, as we continue to see ourselves as an underground band. Of course, we had to seize all the great opportunities to play the following excellent shows and fests.”
Between sold-out gigs and prestigious festival appearances—Hellfest, Decibel Magazine’s Metal and Beer Fest, Maryland Deathfest, and Psycho Las Vegas Fest—Crypt Sermon wrote new album, “The Ruins of Fading Light.” A natural extension of but certainly several knells beyond “Out of the Garden,” the Philadelphians were purposeful in their sophomore album approach. The songwriting sessions resulted in tracks like “The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame),” “The Snake Handler,” and “Our Reverend’s Grave,” signaling Crypt Sermon in 2019 are darker, more epic, and yet still dedicated to the doomiest of metals. Lyrically, “The Ruins of Fading Light” moves the band out of alternate takes on common, faith-based epistemology and into Wilson’s own head, where existential anxiety and the metaphysics of life form a powerful yet nuanced storyboard.
“There was little down time between finishing the first album and writing the next,” says Wilson. “Yet, with personnel changes on bass, and major life events affecting us all, we had a difficult time focusing on creating an album up to our standards. We were playing all these great fests and our writing was taking a back seat. We ended up discarding a near album’s-worth of music. After recording a cover of Mayhem’s ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ we felt more comfortable letting our extreme metal influences become apparent. The resulting album was darker, heavier and more emotional, both sonically and lyrically. As we approached recording, we welcomed Frank Chin into the band.”
“The Ruins of Fading Light” was again recorded, mixed, and mastered by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Cavalera Conspiracy) at Creep Records. The sessions were spread out over two months to maximize studio time between day jobs and the vagaries of life. Crypt Sermon recorded the drums and rhythm guitars first (the foundation of “The Ruins of Fading Light”) focusing next on vocals and backup vocals. Jansson and Lipczynski’s leads were last to be tracked, with additional instruments—acoustic six- and 12-string guitars along with synthesizers—knob-twiddled by Rizk in parallel. Certainly, Crypt Sermon had the option to record their album at higher end studios like Rhythm Studios, Polar Studios, or Criteria Studios, but wanted to keep the proceedings underground and local by venturing back to Creep Records and Rizk.
“There is a level of kinship that the band had with Rizk,” Sagarnaga says. “Following the recording of our debut album, the band felt like Arthur understood what the genre as a whole meant to us. There is a certain degree of magic that we find in heavy metal; it’s empowering. Arthur’s vision for heavy metal music, as well as some of the bands he’s associated with (Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, and more) definitely align with our vision and sensibilities. Working with Arthur once again proved to be a no-brainer.”
Crypt Sermon’s “The Ruins of Fading Light” opens with a swirl of mystery, the gallop of horses, and a mighty choral, accompanied by the thunder of kettledrums. Like Bathory, Candlemass, Trouble, and many others before Crypt Sermon, the intro is the calm before the storm. The tolling of the doom to come. Indeed, lead-off track “The Ninth Templar (Black Candle Flame)” rumbles forth riffs and vocals first. It’s the standard bearer for “The Ruins of Fading Light,” but this incredible ode isn’t all that Crypt Sermon have in store. “The Key of Solomon,” with its infectious hook and insane solo, will have audiences singing along across the globe, while “Christ is Dead” is a clever lay that invokes the smell of incense and the mystery of ancient lands. Elsewhere, “The Snake Handler” is an infectious stroke of heavy metal genius and “Our Reverend’s Grave” towers solemnly as if hewn from marble with purpose and wisdom by long-gone craftsmen. If “Out of the Garden” beamed Iron Age hope into doom metal, “The Ruins of Fading Light” is the beacon of changing times (and sounds). The firesteel has been struck! March with Crypt Sermon today!
“This is a special record for us,” says Wilson. “First, because it establishes a growing body of work, by which we can measure both our past efforts and our future endeavors. Second, this was a true labor of love. We are not satisfied to create a standard doom or heavy metal album, and so we took our time. There are peaks and valleys that we explored that excite us and we hope will engage the listener. Finally, these songs are crushingly heavy and super fun to perform. We can’t wait to share them in our live appearances!”