Reviewed: May 2021
Released: 2021, Century Media
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Bionic Swarm is the debut album of Dutch thrashers Cryptosis, though that’s not the full story. The band were previously known as Distillator, and the new identity represents a transformation, a rebirth into a new, more efficient killing machine.
Efficient is the word here too, as there’s not one ounce of fluff, fat or filler on this entire album, it’s a crushingly effective slab of razor-sharp, monomolecular-edged thrash. It belts and slashes its way from one catchy section to the next with fearless confidence and faultless precision. It’ll blow you away with a rhythm or fret-work, then smoothly move on to the next, then cycle back around to the core melody of the track. Yet never does any of this deliciously technical thrash feel needless, it’s all done in the service of crafting solid metal numbers, putting their skills to use rather than attempting to coast by purely on that.
You may recognise the band from their recent split with the newly-reborn Vektor, and there’s certainly a connection to be heard there, though Cryptosis are clearly their own beast, free from any possible accusations of copying. While they too sit within the progressive/technical thrash style, there’s more of an old-school vibe here, something a bit more grounded in the classics. Slayer in particular are a strong influence here, in the best possible way (the shriek at the opening of “Flux Divergence” is pure Tom Araya).
There’s no wasted space here, every track is an absolute banger. The aforementioned “Flux Divergence” is an unrelenting, unrepentant sort of track that’ll have even veterans thrashing the fuck out. The almost funky noodling rhythms of “Death Technology” are far more catchy than they have any business being. “Transcendence” puts the band’s buzzsaw riffing to monstrous effect in getting the blood pumping. “Conjuring the Egoist” slows things down here and there, showing an appreciation for pacing (even within breakneck thrash) that will serve the band well, as well as employing some Eastern-sounding melodies and symphonic dashes that add a tasty flair to it all (and appear elsewhere in the album too).
It’s been a while since I encountered an album that so aggressively demanded I keep listening to it to see what comes next. Bionic Swarm is one of those wonderfully rewarding pieces that perfectly balances technical proficiency and catchy, aggressive hooks, and it’s an active struggle to haul yourself away from it. But why would you want to? Just put it on repeat and give yourself over to the techno-organic swarm.