Album Review: Cipher System – 20th Anniversary (Self Released)


As a tribute to a 20 year existence as a band, Cipher system have released this special album, a Cipher System Anniversary edition, which consists of previously unreleased demos and a rerecorded version of one of those demos. As a big fan of the previous work, it will be really interesting to hear the unreleased stuff and see what the band evolved from.

A little about the band, Cipher System are a melodic death metal band hailing from, of course, Sweden. They debuted in 2004 on Lifeforce Records with the studio album Central Tunnel 8 although had released a few demos as far back as 1995 (thus the 20 year existence) and even a split album with By Night beforehand. They have suffered in the past from a large amount of member changes until settling down and releasing Communicate the Storms in 2011.

You can read that review here – Communicate The Storms

Cipher System Anniversary

The band do have a settled line up now which consists of Karl Obbel on vocals, Henric Carlsson on bass, Johan Eskilsson on guitar and clean vocals, Andreas Allenmark on guitar, Emil Frisk on drums and Peter Engström on keyboards.

It is important to note though that as a lot of this album’s tracks are previously unreleased demos, they obviously feature original members of which only Henric and Johan still exist.

There are 9 tracks in total on the album and mostly they come in at a standard length of 3 and a half to 4 minutes long though there is also a brutal, straight up death metal song called Raped By Chaos half way through that is only just over 90 seconds long. It wouldn’t sound too out of place on a Deicide album, to be honest. It is a non stop assault with a really cool riff, blistering drums and raspy vocals and I love that whereas most bands split an album with a slow down or an instrumental, Cipher System’s idea of an interlude is to step everything up another couple of notches. The whole album is really heavy actually so both past and present versions of the band still have that in common. There are bucket loads of melody and rhythm still though and really great riffs.

There are changes of pace, chugging sections and pure thrash sections, that follow each other nicely and keep songs fresh and interesting. Passage of Time is one such song which starts with a little drum intro before exploding into life with a brilliant guitar line leading you along. The verses are brutally heavy and the chorus, other than a slightly slower riff isn’t too far behind. It then switches into a very heavy but more chugging section which had me head banging happily along. This builds into a great little solo playing over the top before the song explodes back into an even heavier ending then it’s extremely heavy beginning.

Cipher System Anniversary

Path of Delight is a similarly styled track. It is, again, so heavy most of the way through and at points the drums are just amazingly fast. Emil Frisk is a beast of a drummer. The song switches part way through to a more rhythmic riff that builds and builds to a huge ending. Pandemonium is a little different as it starts in that more rhythmic fashion and has a really interesting and catchy riff. As the song builds, there is clever use of eerie effects that sound almost Cradle of Filth like that are barely audible in the background.

There is even a deep, demonic voice that speaks out near the end of the song before the lead vocals, with their higher, raspy tone come back in. Into the Flaming Sky is another rhythmic one that starts with an excellent guitar into before the heaviness joins in. Johan Eskillson and Andreas Allenmark’s guitars are definitely showing off here with loads of catchy little hooks and lines, sudden stops and starts and multiple solos.

Cipher System Anniversary

Awakening of Shadows brings the death metal again with speed drumming, great riffs and Henric Carlsson’s bass at the forefront. The song is blisteringly fast though slows near the end for a great, winding guitar solo before it gets back to the pace through to the end. Beyond The Gates of Dreams is both the 1st and the 7th song on this album with the 7th track being an old demo and the 1st being a rerecorded version of this demo.

There is obviously a difference in both the vocal styles and the production between the two but they are the same song which consists of a heavy intro, verse, chorus and a more rhythmic bridge. There is a very short melodic slow down in the middle before it explodes back into life and keeps building in speed and aggression. The biggest difference is actually in the vocals as the original demo was obviously a different singer, though I don’t know who as they have had a fair few.

The song does seem to suit the original vocals better to be honest with the current singer, Karl Obbel, sometimes sounding a little stretched on his version. I guess that is to be expected though as it wasn’t written for him. The last track on this excellent little album is a pre production version called Life Surrounds. It is also the longest song on the album at 4 and a half minutes long. It has a very heavy start and a really dark tone to the track in a whole. The vocals are pure death metal and are accompanied by blistering drums and guitars. The song switches things up on occasions with slower more rhythmic instrumental sections before breaking back into the death metal verses and vocals. It even throws in some eerie effects and short spoken verses which once again showcases the versatility of this band.

How these never got released before is beyond me.

Full track listing – Beyond the Gates of Dreams – 2015, Path of Delight, Pandemonium, Passage of Time, Into the Flaming Sky, Raped by Chaos, Beyond the Gates of Dreams, Awakening the Shadows, Life Surrounds (pre-prod)

While sounding quite different to the more modern Cipher System, this is a really enjoyable chunk of very heavy metal often bordering on being straight up death metal. It manages to stay interesting throughout the whole album which is a feat in itself but while I really enjoyed this, a band that has only really released two proper studio albums in 20 years really need to be releasing a new studio album pretty soon. Even Metallica have managed 4 albums in the same time period.


Cipher System - 20th Anniversary (Self Released)
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