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Just about everyone remembers the infamous comedic rant that Bill Hicks had against people in marketing, particularly the "Kill yourself!" punchline, but back in the early 90s when Cancer was a force to be reckoned with in the death metal world, no one thought that they'd become the musical incarnation of Bill Hicks' ire in that routine. Admittedly, Cancer had already veered off into a more commercial direction on their mid 90s exercise in hit-or-miss groove "Black Faith", but at least in that album's unfortunate case, something resembling hard hitting metal was being attempted. With the band's mid-2000s resurrection, all attempts at anything befitting the band's name and legacy have been carelessly tossed out the window.
What is heard on the majority of this album can be described as a bastardized middle ground between Fear Factory's groove-infused "Demanufacture" and the boring, plodding pile of ambient noise that was its reinterpretation "Remanufacture". The latter and more grotesque pile of synthetic auditory garbage is all over the sound sampled nightmares that are the last 2 songs on this EP, to the point of making them painful to listen to for their sheer lack of organization, frequent reference to sampled spoken quotes, and a wildly uneven production where any guitars are mercilessly buried under the mass of keyboard and percussion sounds. The only actual original metal song on here titled "Oil" is gutted under the weight of a heavily mechanized drum machine and features a set of contrived half-thrash riffs that can barely be heard above the tinny clatter of the drums. The vocal display reeks of Ministry and Pantera worship to the point of being a sleep inducing cliché, and are also difficult to hear clearly thanks to the overbearing drum sound.
But perhaps most vomit-inducing of all is that the band makes a really poor attempt to cover for an experiment gone horribly awry by including 2 poorly produced recordings, one of a classic track off their debut album, the other a butchered cover of a Celtic Frost song. A live drummer is employed for these songs, but his overloud and heavily tinny kit sound may as well be the slightly less annoying little brother of the drum machine that was all over "Oil". I can't help but wonder if maybe Cancer's early greatness left with Scott Burns (minus a bit of afterglow on their 3rd album of course) since they haven't been able to get themselves back on their feet since, but one thing is definitely for sure, he never would have approved a sloppy production job like this.
To add a little bit of irony to this unfortunate piece of political pandering (of about roughly the same quality as what Six Feet Under does in this area), Cancer actually fell into Bill Hicks' joke by doing exactly what the evil marketers were doing, putting a dollar sign at the end of everything. For an album that bitches about corporations, one can't help but notice how corporate this thing sounds, almost as if a board of directors had convened on how to sell an anti-corporate band to the masses in order to boost their bottom line. War for any stupid rationale is a terrible thing, but sometimes I wonder if it's as bad as some of the tepid music it can inspire. This is recommended only to people who think that "American Idiot" was a punk album and that Limp Bizkit has kick ass riffs. Anyone else looking for a good album bitching about pointless wars for oil should check out Abomination's "Tragedy Strikes".
English death metallers bathing in cult prestige, Cancer, descended into slumber back in mid-90s, but returned a decade after for this comeback release and a full length platter. Then again, the demise befell on them...
1995 album 'Black Faith' heavily strayed away from death metal, but managed to sound a fucking original piece of metal anyways. On 'Corporation$', the band managed to present two new songs. The first one, 'Oil', took Cancer into more machiney territories. Beginning with annoying "mecca mass", the song includes some dirty low-tuned death metal guitars, but absolutely inapt drum machine beat. Vocals are in vein of 'Black Faith', meaning non-growled voice, and guitars also travel into Killing Joke style open chords. This is more Ministry than Cancer, if you ask me... The song itself isn't that shit at all, but I think the drums machine is totally not suitable with other elements! Well, I didn't expect anything from new Cancer anyways.
Bad-ass studio live version of 'Witch Hunt' with Carl "Smokes" Stokes on drums is the next one. Great! Well, the sound is still very unbalanced, but who cares?! Now, this is closer to what Cancer was all about. Another studio live cut 'Dethroned Emperor' is a good live cover of classic Celtic Frost song. But then comes 'Oxygen Thieves (Don't Breathe My Air Remix)' (the second newbie) and as you probably quess by its title, it's time for some machine-polluted stuff! Not a very good song from any point of view, I'm afraid. It's pretty boring, and this thing was made far more better (if you can put it that way, hehe) a decade ago. But the torture ain't over yet, because the remix version of 'Oil' is much, much worse than 'Oxygen Thieves...'. Total fucking crap!!! That's what you're gonna get when old metal musician goes techno or whatever genre this shit is.
Thanks to 'Corporation$', I never got the final Cancer album 'Spirit in Flames' (2005). You think I'm close-minded? No I'm not, I just don't like this new Cancer thank you, and didn't bother to check out that last release! This mini album stinks. And the cover art is very bad, too. If you have huge coprolagnia, then you might want to check this shit out!!!
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2008)
Out of all of the 80’s Death/Thrash band reformations, this is one that I would have put at long odds. Exodus was always thereabouts and the Death Angel reunion is a dream come true. However, I can’t say (with all due respect) that I was hanging out for the reformation of UK thrasher Cancer! Having said that, I am more than glad that they have. I’d rather review this than any nu piece of shite that gets thrown my way more often than not.
The most amazing thing about Cancer is that just before their demise in 1994/5, they were signed to a major label – East West. Not that they weren’t deserving of such a contract, its just that there were many other metal bands around at the time that had a larger profile in the scene. Unfortunately, the major label association was the death knell for Cancer and they mutually dissolved after touring on their ‘Black Faith’ album of 1994 (this was their fourth full length that followed 1992’s ‘Sins of Mankind’, 1991’s ‘Death Shall Rise’ and the 1989 debut ‘To The Gory End’). A lack of major label support and industry bullshit had left the band jaded and ripped off. According to then, the only ones NOT making any money at the time were the true creators of the music.
In late 2003, original guitarist/vocalist John Walker and drummer Carl Stokes got together with the idea of reforming the band. Original bassist Ian Buchanan was not interested, so they added Assert bass player Adam Richardson and a second guitarist in Rob Engvikson from Asatru (he also played with Carl and Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway in ‘Nothing But Contempt).
Signed to the ever growing Copro label in England, the first product from the new Cancer line up is this five track, quickly slapped together EP entitled ‘Corporation$’. The sole intention of this release is to get the Cancer name back out into the metal community and act as a thirst quencher for the new full length. As such, ‘Corporation$’ only features ONE new track. But what a killer track it is – entitled ‘OIL’ – it is a mid tempo thrasher with a great verse/chorus line. Lyrically, it is laced with classic Cancer cynicism – this time aiming their finger straight at the big business oil barons of the world. Production wise, the sound is heavy and cutting and not as old school as I thought it might be. However, I hope the full-length addresses John’s vocal mix as his is buried way too low on the aforementioned ‘Oil’ track. The other four tracks on this EP include a re-recording of one of their old thrash classics ‘Witchhunt’, and a cover version of Celtic Frost’s ‘Dethroned Emperor’ (Of which there can never be too many). The other two tracks are a little worrying - ‘Oxygen Theives’ is a new track but appears here as a electro-techno remix. The final track is an Ian Buchanan remix of ‘Oil’. The latter sounds like something Killing Joke would do but really, both efforts don’t impress me too much at all(and here’s hoping that they’re just EP experiments).
So, Cancer is officially back. The new full length is being recorded and UK/Euro and U.S shows are planned throughout 2004. ‘Corporation$’ is worth laying your hands on for the first three tracks only. While you’re at it, it might be a good idea to seek out their back catalogue.