CRYPT SERMON - Record Release Show, In Philly

June 17, 2024, 3 weeks ago

By Mark Gromen

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To celebrate the release of their third full-length, The Stygian Rose (Dark Descent Records), the Philly doom lords visited Johnny Brenda's, a corner bar in the trendy Fishtown neighborhood. It might be small, but the upstairs room even offers a balcony. Fresh from last month's festival appearances, on opposing coasts (Northwest Terror, in Seattle, and Maryland Deathfest), the Sermonites appear to be dedicating themselves to more activity, playing a pair of shows this weekend and another local gig (Decibel mag's 20th anniversary) at the end of August. About time!

Singer/painter of the album cover artwork, Brooks Wilson strolls onstage after the others have already begun the opening "Heavy Is The Crown Of Bone". The guy is everywhere, even manning the mech booth, prior to the gig. He's an expressive frontman, waving his hands, arms about and his bushy hair flails around as he tours the stage, maestro of this unholy symphony. 

Initially he wore a white vest (with matching cowboy boots), draped with ecclesiastic scarf/stole, but after a few numbers, they encumber his energetic performance and were discarded, working the rest of the night in black, short-sleeve button-down. Under a thick red haze, the stomp of "Christ Is Dead" is up next, Wilson punching the air, for emphasis. Purple hued newcomer "Thunder (Perfect Mind)" slows the course, but only temporarily. 

Blue lit heavyweight "Down In The Hollow" is punctuated by a Wilson karate kick, During the Candlemass-minded molasses of pre-release video/single "Glimmers In The Underworld", Brooks headbangs wildly as more than a couple heads bobbled in the tightly packed crowd. Otherwise, the singer plays off bassist Matt Knox (who also provides backing vocals), as the guitar of Savatage (Hall Of The Mountain King) t-shirt wearing Steve Jansson launches into spirited runs that belie the pigeon-hole of doom.

That said, the night would end with "The Master's Bouquet". The (as yet) unheralded doom masterpiece, sees Knox singing alongside Wilson, at the front of the stage. Then Jansson interjects a closing, fleet fingered blaze. Great stuff. Here's hoping the rest of metal community takes the time to stop and smell the Stygian Rose.

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