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I try not to use the term "Suffocation clone" too frequently, since I believe that by and large brutal death metal has more substance and variation than that even in the less appreciably unique bands, but Cenotaph doesn't really leave me much of an option with "Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium." This album really is one of the purer examples of Suffocation worship in my collection; while careful listening reveals that Cenotaph does have certain stylistic elements that are separate from the American band, by and large you can see "Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium" as a slightly updated Turkish response to "Pierced From Within." This doesn't make it a bad album, but it does sort of make Suffocation the litmus test as to whether you'll enjoy this; as someone who's never been a tremendous fan of Suffocation, I tend to find myself enjoying this album in spite of those comparisons rather than because of them.
Calling this "technical" seems appropriate enough; the riffs are convoluted and atonal chugs or winding tremolo melodies while the drums do tend to play around with time signatures and offputting fills, but at the same time technicality never really feels like an appreciable goal with this music. I have a feeling that Cenotaph approaches this whole "death metal" thing from something of a different perspective. There's a sort of perplexing mesh of styles here; it's as though Cenotaph is trying to recreate a modern brutal death sound with fairly oldschool musical ideas. Apart from the overwhelming Suffocation influence, you can also hear traces of Morbid Angel or Deicide here and there in some of the more melodic, straightforward riffs which only crop up every once in a while. The way these moments break up what's generally harsh, punishing, and kind of tonally static brutal death makes for a pretty odd musical texture; just when you think Cenotaph is about nothing but Mike Smith jackhammer blasts and unlikable "riffs," they drag something out from the Swedish catalog and force you to rethink everything.
It comes as little surprise that this album, being Suffocation-derived and coming out on United Guttural, also bears resemblance to a somewhat more restrained version of what else was coming out on United Guttural. That style's pretty well established: particularly needing, technical brutal death with flat production, a complete hatred of repetition or groove, and songwriting that's less focused on being memorable than simply punishing the listener. All these details are present in Cenotaph's music, but to something of a lesser degree; "Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium" never quite gets to "Destined For Defilement" levels of unpleasantness, but it sure as hell seems to be trying sometimes. I think it's the more intensely European feel of this music that gives it balance, though; while Suffocation comparisons might flow fast and thick, you can clearly tell that this isn't an American band.
Ultimately though I find myself underwhelmed by this any time I try to listen to it. The most Suffocation worshiping parts (especially the absolute carbon copy drum performance) tend to come off as sort of grey and formless, and the more traditional death metal elements are too few and far between for my liking. Cenotaph straddles a bunch of different genre lines on this album, but with the refusal to adopt any one style more fully, the songs feel kind of scattershot and unmemorable. I know what this album sounds like, but I couldn't tell you what any song in particular sounds like; they're all composed of basically the same handful of elements arranged and compulsively rearranged, with a ton of time and effort put into anything except fun. There's a certain place for overtly unfriendly, unenjoyable sorts of brutal death, but I think Cenotaph lends themselves better to a less self-involved style.
The band would definitely move in a different direction with the following album, and their older material isn't overly similar to this either, so I figure you can pick this up if you're a Suffocation freak or ignore it in favor of the bands' other releases. Either way, this isn't BAD bad, but it's a shadow of what it could have been.
Okay, so to further the chaos about this album on this website, I think I will give a fifth and completely different opinion on this one than the ones before me. I do not hear the Cannibal Corpse influence anymore than I hear it on any brutal death metal band, which is considerable, but this band is not a Cannibal Corpse clone like some US bands I could mention here. Nor do I think it is as incredible, or is incredible for the same reasons as some of my fellow reviewers.
This album came out after two great beginning albums for this band, and after they have established themselves as people who play their own brand of slower than usual tech death metal. They stuck to their guns on this one as well, playing just that, and as always adding their own twists. However, by this point they were influenced pretty heavily by the American scene of bands such as Suffocation, Broken Hope and the ultra guttural stuff like Devourment. The vocalist mostly, you can really here him doing his Devourment, Broken Hope thing pretty heavily. And it is much more influenced by the old school I agree, but at the same time they are influenced by the newer American stuff as well, so hence the not too fast speed. They still blast, but at speeds which are now not considered adequate. What they do however is riff their brains out, in slightly Suffocation like manner. And that will always carry a death metal album. If you want pure speed, listen to grind core.
The reason I prefer this to other Suffocation rip offs is because they retain some of their own style of riffing while trying to please fans of the American scene. I feel like compared to their earlier efforts, this falls short, because these guys did not fit the mould with their first two albums, but now they kind of do. It is all of the strange things that stick out of the mold that made me love this band when I first picked up this album through a trade. Sadly with time they tried harder and harder to fit the mould, but here this was the bridge point between their ‘premature’ unique and totally one band sub-genre that was their earlier stuff, and the weird ill fitted tech death they play now. Both were good, I liked the former. However, this album, I do believe has more merit to originality than 80% of US bands. My rating does not reflect this because I own their first two albums
Cenotaph, a somewhat overrated band - but they aren't completely without merit. The name of the game here is semi-technical oldschool death metal in the vein of Cannibal Corpse and their ilk. The style (while not new or innovative 10 years ago much less when this album was released) is some what refreshing in the slam death dominated brutal death metal scene.
First of all, this is by no means a bad album. However I gave it a mediocre/slightly above average score because it is just that, a mediocre/slightly above average album. If you read the other reviews and come expecting the saviors of metal you will be disappointed. Their are enough merits to warrant at least a listen or DL to see if you are interested.
Guitars - By far the most impressive aspect of the album. Semi-technical, with a very heavy emphasis on riffing. Little or no soloing and very few NYDM style breakdowns. The riffs are fairly stereotypical being based on constant juxtaposition of tremolo and chugging - to be honest though few metal bands riffs aren't based on these techniques - but remain fresh and interesting.
Bass - Nearly non-existent as far as I can tell for the majority of the time.
Drums - Interesting, very oldschool sounding. The drummer is at least above average and thankfully chose not to over-trigger his kit like so many others. The fills and groove parts are very compelling, and keep the drum parts interesting. Unfortunately in keeping with the theme of Cannibal Corpse imitation the drummer relies far to heavily on slow and mid-speed cannibal and standard style blasts. Consequently he ends up sounding repetitive and sluggish in some of the blast sections.
Vocals - Well, they're terrible. Chris Barnes worship gone horribly wrong. "Errrrrrrrrgh Ohhhhhhhhhh Roooaaaaaagh Eeeeeeeerrrrrrgh". I'm lenient when it comes to vocals, as long as they don't detract too much from the music they can be ignored. Batu's performance here is so abysmal though that it drags down the whole album. It is a long series of weak 'ergh' and 'ohrgh' sounds punctuated by the occasional syllable that is dynamic and actually tolerable if not great. I can't understand why the don't just replace Batu and get a vocalist with some talent.
Overall, good if unspectacular and with a few glaring flaws (mainly the vocals). An odd mix of originality and mimicry.
The Brutal Death Metal band Cenotaph hails from a country not many think of when they think of metal: Turkey. In fact I would have never heard of them if not for a kind fellow over at ultimatemetal.com recommending them to me. Ever the wary one of recommendations, and never having heard of them before, I popped “Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium” into my CD player with some trepidation. Once the first song started blasting away however, I knew I was in for a real treat.
Unlike most of their peers, Cenotaph skipped over the goofy intro and went straight into their excellent music. Immediately raging melodies, pounding power chords, blasting drums, and guttural vocals assaulted me. It was a raging maelstrom of brutal death ecstasy and I loved every minute of it.
The guitars on this album are full of punishing melodies mixed in with slamming and rhythmic power chords, creating a mix that is just fantastic. They are endlessly entertaining and never stay on a riff or a tempo too long. The songs change enough so that they never become monotonous. The bass also makes its presence felt in the form of numerous and very nice fills.
The vocals are mostly a guttural roar, very powerful and direct. Not quite the putrid grunts favored by many brutal death bands, but they fit very well with the aggressive nature of the music. On occasion sick higher screams are used as well, which complement the low roar nicely. The lyrics are the typical gore lyrics, written in broken English, but they are fine, especially considering that they cannot be understood in the songs.
The drummer is probably the most average part of this album, but he is by no means bad, and he holds his amidst all the other instruments. The drum fills that frequent each song are especially good. The production is fine and allows all the instruments to be heard clearly.
All in all this is an extremely well done album that no brutal death metal fan should be without. Each song is a metal tour-de-force that leaves you asking for more.
Far too often in this modern scene, technicality is the basis of songwriting. For the modern metal scene, technical seems to automatically guarantee you tour slots, record deals with "avant-garde" labels, and overall good exposure. What is our obsession, as a listening and consuming audience, with shifting time-signatures, random start-stopping, and the like? I for one, cannot answer this question, but rather pose it as a question to think about...after you read this review!
You see, this Turkish band embodies technical death metal far, FAR better than, say Necrophagist (post-Onset, that is): technicality alone does not a good album make. Tone, songwriting, concept, and drive matter equally more. Thus, Cenotaph's 3rd album shows no signs of wear on this underground band. It is obvious they have bore the hardships of making music and still continue to do it for the love of the game: and they don't even have big exposure! To them, it seems tech. death metal is a style, uninfluenced by media or record labels. On this CD, you will hear some of the greatest examples of the aforementioned "shifting time-signatures" and "random start-stopping." Case in point, first riff in "Bloody Autopsy Table." Bouncy and happy, but what lies underneath? It isn't needlessly overdone, that's for sure; some excellent syncopation and rhythmic capability here. Vocalist utters forth some pretty guttural growls, but nothing really approaching the demonized "burp" some people, for whatever reason, totally despise. Drumming is really varied and interesting; from mid-paced grooves to very fast blasts and everything in between (ridiculous tom fills included therein!). Guitar tone is insanely downtuned but very fitting, with some interesting, almost jazzy melodies popping out at times. Bass is thick, chunky, and downright slippery in playing style; lots of fret sliding and groove. Lyrics? Yeah, I added these lyrics VERBATIM from the booklet, pretty much. OK, so English isn't their first language...but it makes the lyrics even more disturbing! "Decayed innards, stench of pukelization process/urge to vomit pus, lympathic tissues removed inside/pathologial view of Nephrectomy"...I give up! Turkey: 1, Rest of the technical death metal world: -600 and counting!
The first, and most common mistake that befall fans at the gore end of the death metal spectrum is taking said scene seriously. Could one reasonably idolize such bands? On a musical level, perhaps. Lyrically, however, nothing in depth is conveyed. There is no message whatsoever. There are no influential or inspiring quotable quotes. If a band really wanted to be taken seriously, do you honestly believe that they would be singing about "Gurgling Rotten Feces" or "Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt"? Of course, 'cause these topics have such a major impact in my day to day life. Not likely! These type of songs act more as a medium to a sadistic fantasy world where you CAN get away with murder.
[Enter dream sequence] ...The following message is a paid announcement for Paradise Of Perversions... Having a bad day? Did your enemy piss you off, again? No problem! Kill that mother fucker, and get on with better things like mutilating your girlfriend's nether regions. This has been a payed advertisement by the associates of Professor Dahmer's School For Necrophiles...
SNAP OUT OF IT! Yeah, such imagery does have a certain appeal, but for this freak, it's all about the brutal tech savagery that seethes from these albums; Insane musicianship that goes far beyond the out of control stage. The kind of shit that sends you into a vicious air guitar/drumming frenzy.
Akin to Cannibal Corpse and Carcass as a sort of third cousin, Turkey's Cenotaph share more than just the same first letter in their names. Blood rooted themes are the obvious focus as they groove and grind, blast and bludgeon, through the forty minutes that is Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium, their third full-length. Vokills are grunted and gurgled like someone attempting to scream for help just after their throat had been slit. Both the deranged riffing and drum onslaught are technical and frantic, like a speed addict on a 72 hour meth binge. Sickening lyrical themes will have you grossing out all your friends for weeks on end. 'No way dude! He didn't just fuckin' say that!'
Like an axe to the back of your head, Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium pulverizes any concept of constraint , while flatlining your senses. All that will remain of you is an unrecognizable puddle of blood, sweat, and more blood. Though Cenotaph are not quite on the same level with their gore veteran influences that embody their own sound, they are sure to appeal to all you part time serial killers out there. Maybe not a must own, but surely a must hear sort of album. It pretty much boils down to this; If they were prisonmates, you can guarantee that Cannibal Corpse would be the one trading Cenotaph's ass for cigarettes. That may seem like a harsh statement, but I have a feeling that it is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about the band.