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This is not an album you're going to find for very cheap, and considering how middling it is, it honestly would not be worth your money. Though It may be worth a download if you can't have enough old school death metal, because Cancer has prepared a few decent riffs for your consumption this time around. Very thrashy ones actually, and they are pretty memorable. They just didn't really deliver anything else, so this meal is a little lacking on many levels.
But the protein is definitely a good cut of death/thrash goodness. Let's start with the good and work our way backwards. The main riff of the track closer is the best one here, and one listen will permanently ingrain it into your memory. Scattered across the rest of the songs are plenty of great riffs too, with every track having at least a decent slab of good riff work. Surprisingly, the pace tends to stay lower then you would expect. Lingering mostly in the mid-paced realm, which is really a positive for the album as it helps separate this from a lot of the other death metal records in my collection.
That's not to say that EVERY riff is slower, as there are a number of harder hitters like on Cloak of Darkness, Patchwork Destiny, Electro-Convulsive Therapy, and Tribal Bloodshed 1. The rapid muted rhythms are worth some head banging, but the slower riffs are preferred on numbers like Meat Train and Tribal Bloodshed 2. Although every song has at least some significant portions that slow down a bit. The most memorable moments are when the vocal 'melodies' follow the rhythm of the riffs, adding a bit more force to the music.
Though the reason it needs that extra punch is the really weak production. The guitars and drums are so freaking clicky and processed sounding that any chance at atmosphere or forceful concussive riffing is completely taken away. The bass is slightly audible, but it just kind of meanders under the guitar without giving the guitars that low end xeroxing it needs. Think a really clicky And Justice for All... sound and you're in the right ballpark. The clean breaks on Pasture of Delights and the beginning of Tribal Bloodshed 2 actually sound pretty good, albeit the music is very derived and unoriginal.
And that’s the real issue at hand here. I can handle a poor production job. But it is perfectly clear here that little thought was put into song arrangement and structure. Other then riffs, little effort seems to have been put into anything really. The bass follows the guitar with no exception that I hear. The drumming has a couple fills that are noticeable though immediately forgotten, and the vocals have no fire behind them at all.
Worse, those riffs are just kind of splattered across the album with little regard as to how the songs will flow. Plus the lyrics tend to be so mindless (Meat Train. Oh yeah, that's haunting) that you don't really care of what he's half-assedly grunting. So each song might as well be called Riff Compilation 1-8. There is even a sever lack of memorable leads. Only a couple of solos on the whole record, and none that particularly hit you.
In summation, I've had this album for a year and a half as of now, and I never feel compelled to take it out except to 'give it another shot' as it were. And I'm done giving it chances. It is pretty sub-par, and as I mentioned, is only really worth a download if you can't get enough of this sound, because this is third rate death metal. 2 out of 5
Tribal Bloodshed 2
Some scattered decent riffs
1993 The glory period of old school death metal is coming to an end but in the United Kingdom this band unleashed one hell of an death metal album. After their much praised and slightly overrated release "Death Shall Rise" which featured James Murphy on guitar and was produced at Morrisound studios. That album contained all the elements of a death metal album you would expect production wise and riff wise.
But this album Cancer went in a different direction. Injecting a large amount of thrash and going a lot more rawer production wise. Cancer unleashed one hell of an album , every song on this disc contains a lot of riffs that flow extremely well and are that perfect middle ground between thrash and death.
Kicking things off we have "Cloak of Darkness" which instantly gets your attention with a quick little riff that then leads into a very heavy death metal tremolo picking riff. This is a prime example of why this album is so good the riffs are very catchy and intricate. Also I believe the growl off John Walker gives the riffs an extra edge when they are used for verses. His lyrics are intelligent and you can tell what he is saying. But he does not compromise any power or heaviness in his voice.
As mentioned before in the review the riffs have a major thrash influence and are quiet unique in places. The riffs in "Meat Train" come to mind with some very clever hooks and varied drum work. Speaking of which the drum work of Cark Stokes is superb. He is not far out and doesn't add to many fills distracting you from the amazing riffs on offer. The beat is usually kept straight with standard death metal drumming adding in the odd little short fill. The drumming follows the riffs and the band are on top form, not one member is trying to take center stage. Which I approve of completely.
The production off the album is perfect for this type of death metal. It may not be as bass heavy for some peoples tastes. But it works for this album. The guitar tone is thin and allows you to hear the articulation of the riffs clearly, but still does not fail to smash the listeners face in.
I am not going to bother naming individual moments that are awesome on this album because the review would turn into an essay. Every single second of this disc full out smokes and there is not a moment wasted. Get this now.
Cancer had a good run in the early 90’s with a string of three killer albums, this being the last one before Black Faith (which, admittedly, I haven’t heard).
Cancer played a style of old-school mid-paced death metal which was generally benefited from good production and solid musicianship, which clearly shines on The Sins of Mankind.
The guitar work isn’t stunning, but it’s effective and keeps the listener’s attention with some good (sometimes great) riffs and leads which sound like they were actually planned out (more Morbid Angel and less Deicide, if you can follow this example). The drums and bass are very tightly wound, with a lot of good tempo changes, which adds to the overall quality. And the vocals are more pronounced and stand out from other death metal vocalists; not the generic “swallow the microphone and belch” method that a lot of the demo bands from this era employed (in my opinion, over-used).
There are some flourishes of creativity here: as I mentioned, most of the leads are thought out and actually fit into the songs (Suffer for Our Sins, Electro-Convulsive Therapy), and there are other little odd moments thrown in here and there (acoustic guitars mingling with electric (once again, Suffer for Our Sins, Pasture of Delights / At the End) before a lot of bands tried doing this. It’s highly effective in the context of the songs.
Lyrically, the standard topics are present and accounted for (criticism of organized religion in Cloak of Darkness and Patchwork Destiny; death and gore in Meat Train) and sometimes veer into some not-so-standard topics (a two part war song in Tribal Bloodshed I & II; criticism of the mental health system and medication in Electro-Convulsive Therapy). It’s not written out as an English major might like, but it is effective for a death metal album.
Overall, The Sins of Mankind is a great album if you like your death metal to be old-school, with a few flourishes of thrash, and to be different from the hordes of bands that would flood the shelves in the mid-90’s, and combined some hints of thrash (some of the tempo changes) before a lot of bands started even knowing what death-thrash was. This isn’t quite “classic”, but it’s pretty damned close. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for something new that might have gone unheard the first time around.
This is without a doubt the best Cancer release, why? Because it will make your head bang! Previous Cancer releases were all true classics, but this one stands out for plenty of reasons. Sure, it still has plenty of death metal qualities in this album...which is what this band is known for. Compared to past Cancer albums this one seems to have more riffs and the vocals seem to have better rhythm. Very easily this album could be mistaken for a 1986 release, thrash metal up your ass! Sure like I said the death metal qualities let you know just who they really are, but Cancer take it to a whole new level. The greatest factor in this album is the constant speed to it...there are not many breaks in this album with long and drawn out riffs that get tiresome. A prime example is the track "Patchwork Destiny", it is just relentless and brutal. If you are a fan of Cancer or mainly just love great thrash metal, this one is for you. Did I mention it would make your head bang? Well it will! Cancer are an underrated death metal band that have proved it can have more than just have one sound. Cancer have made a classic here and it should be embraced by all who love metal music.