When I saw this band pop up in my recommendations I was expecting some real old-school death metal. Even as the album’s introduction started, the sample seemed to lean that direction but as the first track properly hit I was pleasantly surprised. This is some tasty trad doom. To be fair, Crypt Sermon is not doing anything new as much as I do love what they are doing. They follow in the footsteps of many giants that have come before them: Candlemass, Solitude Aeternus, even Cathedral to a degree, and occasionally a hint of some power metal bands such as Blind Guardian. All amazing bands to be associated with and dare I say despite it not being extremely original, I really enjoyed it.
The Ruins of Fading Light is decidedly minor and dark (harmonic minor to be precise) and has an air of occult-ish mystery with the riffs to back it up. The vocals remind me a lot of Randy Rampage, who performed on the first two Annihilator recordings. Not a reference I get to make often (or in fact ever) so I relish in being able to mention his name here. Although Randy Rampage is generally more gruff and gritty throughout, Crypt Sermon’s vocalist Brooks Wilson also has some smoother deliveries as well as some more technically proficient, almost operatic parts, that go along with his dirty style. Another honourable mention needs to go to the lead guitars. The tracks are rife with face-melting solos that refuse to leave my crotch unsoiled. The band room must be hella clean because the guitarists are most definitely fans of sweeping (bad joke I know but fuck it). To some, the sweeping may feel excessive as the guitar wankery does occasionally spike off the charts, but for me, that was no issue (one of the reasons I found myself quite enjoying the new Opeth but that is for another review). Did I say the sweeping was excessive? Sorry, I meant perfect.
Instrumentally the rest of Fading Light is tight but not exactly ear-catching; the rhythm does its job and locks down the groove, but never really takes centre stage. This is most definitely in aid of the songwriting, focusing on the melodies and key moments in the song rather than everyone trying to show off. That being said I would have enjoyed a little bit more from the bass and drums but it is neither here nor there.
Fading Light is full of catchy melodies and memorable riffs and these are probably the strongest elements of the album. Although the pieces flow extremely well, some individual tracks come across as singles, which stand out and feel powerful but still fit into the whole, maintaining a feeling of continuity. I particularly love the anthemic pieces. “Key of Solomon” and “Christ is Dead” are the ones that come to mind first. These kinds of songs are also what conjure up associations with Blind Guardian, as anthemic heavy metal might be their bread and butter.
I also particularly enjoy some of the more Western, classical sounding parts that usually come in the form of song intros. These parts are beautifully arranged and give Fading Light an esteemed and distinguished quality as well as contributing to the old-school sound this record portrays as a whole. Additionally, Fading Light has a good production quality and I like the mix overall. The recording does have a bright sound, almost bordering on tinny at times, but the crisp production also lends itself towards the classic aesthetic Crypt Sermon presents.
As much as I enjoyed this listen I can’t say that it will go down in history as one of my favourites. It does the job and has a good vibe, however, as mentioned earlier, it is basically more of the same. Sure, it’s a modern example and a good one at that, however, after a couple of listens I find myself going back to Candlemass or Blind Guardian. This is not to disparage the band in any way. It is a great listen and if you are a fan of power metal, trad doom, or classic metal it is one not to be missed, though I do not think Fading Light is going to take the place of the classics mentioned above.