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A friend of mine gave me a cassette in 1990 on which he had recorded the Swedes Carnage’s “Dark Recollections” (side A), and Cadaver’s “Hallucinating Anxiety” (side B). I didn’t delve very deep into those efforts since I didn’t like either very much, so after I listened to them twice or thrice, I passed them on. A few years later we’re talking with this chap about outstanding works of technical/progressive death metal, and he throws in the name of Cadaver. I express my doubts immediately to which he replies by handing me the album reviewed here, It was an original cassette, sent to him by Norway; it looked really good, with the lyrics inside and all, so why not give it a try…
This album came as a byproduct of an amazing year that was 1991; the technical/progressive side of death metal reached its peak at a fairly early stage in the works of Pestilence, Atheist, Death, Gorguts; Baphomet, Dragon, Maple Cross, Darkthrone and Assorted Heap on the other side of The Atlantic. The die was cast, and death metal was never going to be the same again transforming into a challenging form of musical expression. You would expect an album like this to appear from The Land of the Thousand Lakes (Finland that is) that churned out the most left-hand-path acts on the scene (Nomicon, Demilich, Stone, Maple Cross, Airdash, etc.). Well, it came a few hundred miles West of the Finnish border sneaking somehow under the radar of the black metal “police” which was gradually establishing itself as the dominant force in the Scandinavia. And, we can’t say that Norway had no traditions whatsoever when it came to original music; remember the progressive thrashers Equinox and their labyrinthine, psychedelic “trips”. In other words, the album reviewed here is a gem, one of the post-pinnacles of the progressive death metal movement.
The guys had made a huge step forward compared to the debut with the strong intention on being the spokesmen of the Norwegian death metal fraternity regardless of how small it was at the time. Like their compatriots Equinox again, the band present a compelling complex, hallucinogenic “journey” which begins with “Bypassed”, an outlandish unpredictable shredder with a strong dissonant strand akin to Voivod and steady intricate mid-paced riffage. “Mr. Tumor’s Misery” starts with an instantly memorable tumor… sorry, riff which grows into a faster-paced staccato section the guys changing the rhythms the whole time reaching doomy dimensions at some point before exiting with another portion of easily recognizable strokes. “Into the Outside” brings forward some weird atonality the shadow of Voivod soaring above the band keeping it within the mid-tempo parametres, with more surreal atmosphere dropping later with abstract jumpy motifs predating the ones on Pestilence’s “Spheres”, those brutally replaced by another speedy section. “Blurred Visions” is a maddening disorienting mosher with frequent slower stops from the semi-blasting stride the latter turning to a vortex of mazey technical riffage in the middle. “Runaway Brain” hits with more abstractisms ala Equinox and Voivod initially those also present on the more dynamic riffs that pop up later and permeate the whole song, adding some psychedelic dissonance to spice the proceedings.
“Inner Persecution” tries some violin tunes for a change leading to a spiral of twisted quirky riffage before the guys start creeping forward with suggestive quasi-doomy guitars the brooding atmosphere nicely aggravated by the husky, semi-declamatory death metal vocals; expect more labyrinthine Atheist-esque moments, but nothing too speedy or extreme. “In Distortion” is a short crunchy shredder which suddenly switches to fast aggressive cuts then goes back to “normal” jumpy more sterile dashes that strangely hint at the metamorphosis Coroner would experience on “Grin”. A prophetic album by all means that carries on with the raging “The Misanthrope” which aggressive character is pacified by a brilliant more technical passage for a bit the initial aggression further dissipated by imposing lead-driven doomisms. “Ins-through-mental” is a superb technical, meandering piece which ranks with best moments from “Unquestionable Presence”, “No Answers” and “Mental Vortex” the guys changing the pace abruptly relying on a few intriguing gallops as well before bringing “Mental Vortex” and the mighty Swiss again with a supreme head-spinning technical passage. “During the End” provides the final slab of surreal Equinox-like chops the band notching it up in the dynamic department with stylish melodic leads joining the speedy rifforama which is soothed mid-way only to continue in a less restrained fashion, the guys blasting their way through another dissonant miasma later the latter becoming denser and denser “diluted” by a peaceful serene nuance provided as a finale.
One wouldn’t expect a band of that name to produce such a “beautiful” piece of art, but here it is, one of the most important, visionary products of the death metal scene. It bridged the gap between the aforementioned masterpieces of the previous year, which were still holding to the more conventional norms of execution, with the deviant, more radically altered opuses that came a year later following the example of Cynic’s “Focus”. 1992 was a ”nomansland” for the death metal practitioners who were quite bewildered at the more complex turn their chosen field took literally overnight, some of them obviously not candidates to join the latter trend due to a lack of the requisite skills; those who did possess them, though, were more than happy to exhibit their talents which led to the appearance of acts like Decision D, Polluted Inheritance, Violent Dirge, Agretator, Ferocity, Demilich and many others who remained just underground phenomena. In 1992 this pioneering work wasn’t the “lone wolf” on the field, but was in the company of other essential gems like Baphomet’s sophomore effort “Latest Jesus”, and Decision D’s and Polluted Inheritance's striking debuts “Razon de la Muerte” and "Ecocide" respectively. Cadaver’s creation was the most eclectic and the most spastic affair of this triumvirate leaving the Baphomet opus to deal with more sprawling progressive structures, and Decision D and Polluted Inheritance to commence the longest running strand on the death metal horizon, the tribute to the father of the genre Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.) and his band Death.
A possible descent to the jazz/funk-infused rabbit hole, which was already gaping wide open mere several months later, seemed to be an option for the band, for better or worse, but they split up leaving the frontman and founding member Neddo unable to contribute more to the amorphous, easy-to-mould at the time status of his favourite genre. This break expanded to a nearly decade-long hiatus when the entire line-up emerged under the name Cadaver Inc. in 2001 for the release of “Discipline” which was the least “disciplined” “offspring” out there serving a wild untamed mixture of black, death and thrash, a distant departure from anything the guys had created so far including their pristine, rough-around-the-edges debut. The controversy around their website (the story can be found with details on The Net) made at the time was more interesting than the music on offer which took much more intriguing and more attractive characteristics on “Necrosis” (2004) that appeared under their old moniker, still a hyper-active affair leaving back metal behind, concentrating on an appetizing, psychedelic again, death/thrash symbiosis which brought to mind the album reviewed here on the few more inspired moments.
Still, it wasn’t anywhere near the creative grandeur of this magnum opus, but at least it was a step in the right direction, and with the guys still active I guess it’s a matter of time before they delight the expectant fanbase with another least ordinary “cocktail” full of anxiety, pain and dark hallucinations.
Hallucinating Anxiety had technically already been released through Earache Records, or rather Necrosis, a short-lived sub-imprint run by Carcass members; but for its followup ...In Pains, the Norwegian band was shifted over to the primary label. This increase in visibility, and also availability, coincided with a more professional, tightened direction for the group musically, and thus it's no shock that the sophomore was the disc to land them onto the radars of the underground death metal audience, who had begun expanding their collections as the genre truly took off with a number of important releases in the early 90s. Quite like the previous album, ...In Pains was hardly pursuing the most unique of identities, but where Hallucinating Anxiety fused a smattering of influences into a grisly, primitive and entertaining melting pot, its followup was more or less standing in the shadow of the Floridian band Death, who had at this point released their highly popular Human.
...In Pains is no direct bite off that record, but it's similar in structure. I'd characterize it as a more simplistic alternative to Human or Spiritual Healing, with a lot less guitar finesse, melody and lead-work, and a few mildly inventive embellishments in instrumentation: flutes, double bass, etc. Other comparisons I could make would be to Dutch bands like Pestilence (Testimony of the Ancients) or Creepmine (Shadows). The 'progressive' influence isn't quite so overt or spastic as a Cynic or Atheist, but it's largely felt through the swerving bass performance or the slightly jammy, dissonant nature inherent to several of the bridge sections. By and large, though, it's pretty much pure death metal, alternating between palm muted chugging and the expected tremolo picked patterns. Both were present on the debut, but to be blunt: ...In Pains is different enough due to its increased production standards that the two discs might as well be from separate bands. The UK influences like Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death and Carcass have been all but erased; you might hear a few similarities to Necroticism, perhaps, but that cruddy feeling, that grime, and that grind have been sacrificed in favor of a tighter, controlled, bass-heavy mix which was far more accessible to the death metal initiate, or the more musically demanding following who were already installed.
Gone are the repulsive, distorted bass-lines, and replaced with a more pulsing, pumping fusion, jazz or funk influenced tone that competes with the drums and rhythm guitar for volume. Ole's vocals aren't much different than before, but the syllabic structures feel a bit more blunt and slack. His drumming, on the other hand, is better balanced and engineered, with more prevalent bass than the debut. Some of the power and charm has been leached out of them, and the construction of the riffs doesn't lend itself to much intensity, since there is a taut but lazy playfulness to the album which is like a recreation room at a mental hospital. The rhythm guitar tone is rich and propulsive, lending a thicker viscosity to the power chords, and the airier melodies and brief leads help flesh out the music (something that was admittedly absent on the debut). There are points through ...In Pains (like "Blurred Visions" or "Ins-through-mental") where the composition becomes very chunky and reflexive, the guitars and rhythm in a dextrous, acrobatic union both reflexive and interesting, and quite modern for their day, even if some of the aforementioned acts were doing it more successfully or with a more obvious experimental edge.
Granted, the heightened emphasis on bass guitar, and the few existing lines of flute or string instrument are about as 'far out' as Cadaver's sophomore is willing to go, but overall it conveys a real sense of evolution that was not at all unwelcome. In retrospect, though the busyness and effort placed into this record are to be admired, and most of the tracks have at least a temporarily interesting or catchy twist, I do feel that the contemporary atmosphere and polish of ...In Pains has never really given me that same thrill of pathos and nostalgia that the debut evokes. It's a solid album, I'd hazard even a 'good' album, with an understandable appeal. More psychological and subtle than its precursor, unquestionably. Yet for the same reasons I'd rather be driving some vintage muscle car over a 21st century economy auto, I favor their first full-length. But if you've any natural predilection towards records like Human, Individual Thought Patterns, Testimony of the Ancients, Erosion of Sanity, Unquestionable Presence, Hallucinations, Considered Dead, or even Necroticism, then certainly check this one out.
Morbid...it's not just for describing Angels anymore, it can also be applied to Cadaver's In Pains. And that's about the best one-word description I can give on this album: MORBID. Not as overtly suicidal as Bethlehem or Silencer, but you really get the feeling that this is the product of abnormal minds that is reflected in the bizarre structures, warped riffing and odd uses of cellos and violins.
The general style is progressive death metal, but this is not the linear form of Death's later work or the jazzy experiments of Atheist and Cynic. Even though I love all those bands, there was something keeping their feet on the ground, something that kept their music from being dangerous. Cadaver is really unpredictable and sick. The guitar riffs could best be compared to maybe Coroner, but much choppier with masses of unorthodox chording thrown in. I would agree with the last review that there is a good bit of Voivod influence in here.
The drumming is very skilled, quite jazzy with lots of fills and odd timings. The dry, high ended production on this highlights the cymbals and snare, which give it kind of a jazzy black metal feel. And the vocals are more of a rasp, rather than a growl, further adding to the black metal feel. By the way...what the hell is going on with the lyrics? Some sort of strange psychological study?
Odd time changes, bizarre chords and a few creepy melodies certainly add a degree of individuality to this, but then they have to throw in cellos and violins. Most of the time, that means that the result is going to suck balls, but these are done more like the violin on At The Gate's first album, ie: effectively! I would say that they're even better performed here, as they really fit in with the music, and are rather used to emphasize certain passages rather than act as the melody.
This album certainly does get better with repeated listens, but that doesn't mean you ever really get used to it. In Pains is one of the most unique albums in death metal, and one that was never big enough to warrant a slew of copycats, and even Cadaver themselves never made anything like this before or after.
Cadaver are one of those bands that are somewhat well known in the underground metal scene, but they never really reached the level of fame they probably deserved. This release is nothing short of a masterpiece, but it is not an easy listen by any means. "In Pains" is fucking depressing. It's nihilistic, dark, and evil.
Death/thrash is one of my favorite musical genres; this release borders more on death metal, but there are thrash riffs aplenty. The guitar tone is dirtier than a crack whore on $2 crack whore night. The production is actually masterfully done and fits the overall mood of the album very well.
Listening to this album is like staring into a dark abyss: foreboding. The vocals are awesome in their own right; they're very much death metal oriented but also match the extremely talented riff-work found on every song. The album doesn't really have any progressive influences but all of the songs seem to follow a linear pattern that doesn't really reach any climax.
Like I said previously, this album is seriously depressing. It's also extremely well crafted and not accessible by any means. Cadaver are the Voivod of death/thrash but much better musically.
There is no closure to be found on this album but I honestly think that "In Pains" gets better the more times you listen to it. This is an extremely ominous album and probably not fit for a neophyte of death metal. "In Pains" is highly addictive and highly recommended; this release only gets better as the album progresses.
Looking at the booklet of Cadaver’s second release, In Pains, sets the mood for the album. It has something shoved into a man’s eye socket, while poking out the other eye. The album starts off with letting you know how their rhythmic riffing is going to be the entire album. The relentless assault of riffs that change from tremolo to palm muted creates an odd atmosphere, which makes the listener feel confused and never knowing where the song is going to go. Cadaver uses start/stop riffing and continues to play the same riff but they change to a different time signature or to tremolo picking; moreover, this is used tastefully which adds to this odd atmosphere. The drumming, which is obviously written around the guitar, varies every time the riffs changes from a tremolo to a palm mute. These minute changes in the drum patterns help make the riffs flow and keep the listener entertained. Everything put together with the combination of the lyrics show Cadaver could care less about the this life. The lyrics try to make death seem like it’s not all that bad because they are constantly being humorous about it. The blackish vocals weave in and out of the songs, for no apparent reason, adding to the confusion to this album. Cadaver shows it’s possible to use the darkness of death and put an apathetic tone to it. This tone comes from their ability to write metal that combines multiple styles of riffing for almost no reason, making the listener feel confused. This is really unlike anything that came about before, and it is truly innovative. Cadaver knows what death metal is, and they used their strange riffing to make a great album about how pointless life can be.
While Cadaver’s debut “Hallucinating Anxiety” showed a grinding hybrid of black and death metal in the style of early Mayhem, Asphyx and Merciless. It’s follow-up takes a different turn.
This album could be described as Darkthrone’s “Soulside Journey” with progressive tendencies and influences from the other Scandinavian death metal scenes (Sweden in particular). The music frequently changes direction through the use synchronized power chording, abrupt pausing within songs before quickly resuming with cadence making it perplexing and disconcerting (in a good way). Vocals on this album are harsh, almost similar to black metal but in the death metal essence and are preformed in the style of Atheist and Pestilence. The Lyrics tell tales of psychological mishaps and macabre with slight humour (the lyrics to “Runaway Brain” as an example).
Along with Therion’s “Beyond Sanctorum”, Miasma’s “Changes” and Demilich’s “Nespithe”, this is one of death metal’s most inventive releases. Unfortunately though this album is out of print, meaning it wouldn’t be easy to come by but it’s worth seeking out.