From the Back of the Rack is a column that looks at potentially overlooked releases from the month prior.

One of the very interesting things about the next year in music is going to be the release of wave upon wave of pandemic projects. Kryptan is one of these. Their self-titled debut has emerged from the mind of Mattias Norman of October Tide and formerly Katatonia. It’s a vicious and bloodthirsty black metal project that really speaks to Normans’ capabilities as a songwriter and the impact the pandemic had on him. He's built something here that stays within the traditional vision of the genre but which showcases his own capability to craft devastating music within it. Beyond that, this record is short enough to remain addictive, but intense enough to fascinate. Kryptan is a potent debut and one that only hints at terrors to come.

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Intimidating and powerful, it's a far cry from Norman’s traditional doomier fare, but certainly an exciting listen that will appeal beyond a core niche of October Tide/Katatonia superfans. There are just so many wonderfully executed ideas throughout this record and the overarching vision remains clear throughout. Kryptan is very clearly meant to explore a side of Norman’s musical interests that haven’t really had an outlet before, a theme we see in a lot of pandemic projects and something that helps to make them so interesting. Kryptan is essentially building on second wave black metal, replete with blast beats and eerie synths. The prog frills that shine through, like the eerie tritone melodies which provide a stunning bridge on "Bedårande barn" are another layer to a classic sound that has been well tread with good reason.

Immersing yourself in this record is a delight. It acts as an interesting songwriting outlet, being very far removed from Mattias Normans’ other projects, allowing for plenty of unexpected ideas. His death roar really shines here too, with tracks like "Burn The Priest" leaning into the teeth gnashing aspect of his vocals. The gorgeous melodies are simply a counterpoint to the reign of terror the band rains upon your eardrums and act as a reminder that black metal can be a home for all manner of sounds. Nothing seems particularly out of place or flashy, but rather just parts of a larger whole that all make sense together. Best of all—because it’s just an EP, it has very high replay value, ensuring devout fans will be left curious for more and that the intensity doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Pandemic projects in particular seem to get a little bit bloated, high on their own importance to the artist as a mental health outlet during a scarring pandemic. The fact that Kryptan stays trim at around 20 minutes is crucial to its potency. It means that the intensity is a short term blast to hell and not an ongoing slog. Even within the fury of Kryptan, though, there is reprieve, and the exquisite pacing makes it all the more engaging. Many black metal records these days lack this in a quest to be either offensive or artsy. Kryptan instead focuses on drawing in the listener and leaving them glued to their seat. It's exactly the sort of thing that drew so many of us into the genre in the first place. None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but it certainly does make for a compelling listen.

Kryptan, conjuring up all manner of bombastic and fierce imagery, is a harrowing debut effort and one that hints at much more to come from this side project. There is a skill to the songwriting that transcends genre, although the commitment to the tropes is really cool to hear. Meanwhile, the curt run time makes this a highly replayable gem that black metal-loving October Tide and Katatonia Fans are sure to put into regular rotation while they wait for more.

—Matt Bacon

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Kryptan released July 23rd via Debemur Morti Productions.