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Up until this album, I was unable to get into Cenotaph. In terms of musical skill, they were impressive, but in terms of songwriting, they were disorganized and aimless. That all changed with the release of Putrescent Infectious Rabidity.
For the longest time, Batu Çetin's growls were rather hoarse and took away from the brutality. On this album, they're extremely deep and guttural, as though he were gargling on a bucket of innards. He also performs these screams that add a bit more variety to the music. The drums are handled by Lille Gruber, the drummer for Defeated Sanity, and he is the most perfect fit imaginable. Unlike most slam bands, Cenotaph does more than the typical “blast blast blast”. There are an insane amount of complex fills on this album, and the unorthodox rhythms bring the music a great deal more flavor.
Personally, my favorite part of this album is the guitar. Most slam bands go for the simple “chug chug chug” riffs. Cenotaph's riffs are more intricate and angular but they still have a decent amount of groove and plenty of pinch harmonics. Another thing that sets Cenotaph from the rest of the pack is that although they play really fast, they're not afraid to slow things down. They know that there's more to death metal than playing as fast and aggressively as possible. Sometimes, playing slow creates the most terror, such as at the halfway point of “Gorenographic Pervert Victimology”. The slow section builds up tension and anticipation for the cranium-crushing gravity blast to follow. But if you ask me, the best song is the last song. The slow rhythm combined with the evil riffs create an atmosphere that is utterly disturbing.
Allow me to explain Cenotaph like this. Most slam bands are like a McDonald's burger. This album is like one of those fancy burgers you get at a homestyle restaurant. The kind of burger that has an enormous patty and a truckload of toppings. Man, I'm getting hungry. My point is Cenotaph plays a brand of slam that is complex and interesting, and if you don't pick up Putrescent Infectious Rabidity, then you're really missing out.
Cenotaph’s Putrescent Infectious Rabidity offers an incredible display of technical, slamming, brutal death metal. I think it’s definitely one of Sevared Record’s top releases and among 2010’s finest in the slam death world.
One reason Cenotaph tower above the average slam death band is their reluctance to include too many chugging riffs and slams. Instead Cenotaph opt for angular, ever-changing technical rhythms while still managing to maintain some groove. Lille Gruber, the drummer for Defeated Sanity, performs session drums and fits Cenotaph perfectly. His ridiculous skill complements the technical nature of the compositions, fluently alternating between 250+ BPM blasts, creative fills, crushing slams, incredible gravity blasts – he does everything right and helps to make this album the beast it is. Cihan Akün matches Gruber’s renowned musicality with his performance on guitar and bass.
Batu Çetin’s vocals are closer to guttural roars than the usual gurgles and grunts, suiting the grinding drums and guitars. His vocals on this album have been criticized for being boring and one-dimensional, but this seems unfair: his primary vocal style is at least as varied as the average slam vocalist. On top of the gutturals he performs sick higher-pitched screams, and his vocal work on the final track “Embryobscure Hypnosis / Womb of Decay” is a highlight, with a mixture of eerie roars and gurgles, reminding me of the disturbing end to Antaeus’s black metal album Blood Libels.
Despite the usual whirling speed and chaos of the album, Cenotaph is not afraid to slow things down – not only for slams, but for atmospheric, drawn-out sections, with slow, jazzy drumming and sustained guitar chords, as in the memorable “Gorenographic Pervert Victimology”. These slow, minimal sections are not exactly common in brutal tech death but work well here, giving the music some depth and showing that there’s nothing formulaic about Cenotaph’s composition.
The production is clear without being overproduced to the point where the quality suffers (think Abysmal Torment’s Omnicide, or to a lesser degree Wormed’s Quasineutrality...); the drum tones are natural, the guitar is thick and present, the bass is audible without being too clangy, and every element has its space in the mix.
This is Cenotaph’s 5th full-length album, and it definitely shows. Not only are they extremely technical and totally sick, but they show the maturity that a lot of slam death lacks. This is how good metal should be; no boring one-minute-plus intros, no stupid movie samples that drive you crazy after the twelfth play. This is no-bullshit musical insanity. Highly recommended.