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I love everything Cephalic Carnage released after their first two albums, which although displayed a large amount of technical skill they also displayed the band had a small amount of songwriting skill. Then on their third album "Lucid Interval" they proved they had the ability to write insanely technical and complex songs while still being at least somewhat focused, keyword: somewhat. The album still had flaws but it showed that they were on their way to reaching their full potential. Then in 2005 they released "Anomalies" which is when they finally got "it" and damn is it ever a phenomenal record.
CC aren't your usual death/grind band, they call themselves hydrogrind but I think its a little dumb when bands make up their own genres so I'll just ignore that. They take the technicality and brutality of bands like Suffocation, Cryptopsy and the like, throw in a a good amount of grind and then throw in whatever other genres they want whenever they feel like it, here's a few examples:
"Piecemaker" is full on Sabbath worship, the main riff just has that groovy Sabbath swing and then around 2:35 it breaks into a groovy, sludge/doom riff and it does have its death metal moments but for the most part it's a sludge/stoner metal song. It not only shows their Sabbath influence but also their sludge influences, notably sludge legends Eyehategod who use similar Sabbath styled riffs.
"Counting the Days", one of my favourite tracks on here shows their groove metal influence while still being decently technical. To the groove metal haters, don't let that turn you away from listening to this record, they're nothing like whatever groove bands you hate but this may turn you off; about half way through there's a -core(not grind) breakdown *gasp* but its actually wicked and doesn't overstay its visit. They do have more breakdowns here but they're similar to Suffocation's and they've been using breakdowns since the early 90s and no one seems to give them a hard time. This is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album and on my first listen I just had to replay it a few times, one of the best on here as I said.
The opening track "Scientific Remote Viewing" from start to finish is technical death/grind and it was a great choice for the opening track, another one of the best tracks on here. Along with a couple other tracks(Kill for Weed is a good example) it displays their grind influence the most.
The closing track "Ontogeny of Behavior" displays their progressive influences which although is noticeable in every track with their complex song structures, this is where it shines the most. It's a near 10 minute track and the first 4 minutes has clean guitars, beautiful melody and is one of the few songs that features phenomenal clean vocals. It ends up going back and forth from relatively heavy to melodic and clean and then eventually leads into pure technical death chaos. I've heard people say it's post-metal but I've actually never gave post-metal a chance so I can't make a fair judgement.
A lot of technical bands, whether they're technical death metal, brutal death metal, progressive metal, thrash or any genre of music in general fail at being good song writers in the sense that their songs aren't enjoyable, memorable, focused and don't have replay value. This is what CC suffered from on their first 2 albums and slightly on the 3rd but on this album they got it right. The song structures are very complex, riff after riff after riff after riff but the songs are focused and don't end up being just random wank and they're actually very enjoyable. I find a big problem in technical death metal bands is you'll be getting into a great riff, banging your head and then its gone and never comes back, basically the riffs don't go anywhere. CC's riffs go somewhere and they let you enjoy the riff before they move onto the next, the only way to describe it is on this album they learned how to structure and write technical and complex songs correctly. Very impressive songwriting to say the least.
I would get into the instrumentation but for the most part I described it while talking about some of the songs. It's not much different than other technical death bands but at the same time it is because of the grind element and the other genres mentioned above. There's no way to hit the nail on the head on how these guys sound, I just HIGHLY recommend you listen to this if you like technical death metal. Though I will say the riffs are the best thing about this album, so many great riffs on this album you'll drool. Oh, I guess I should add... there's a lot of blast beats! Just as everything else, the drumming is unbelievably technical and skilled. As for the vocals, they range from a very guttural growl, a not too guttural growl, a high pitched scream/snarl, a shout, and clean singing(see: Ontogeny Of Behavior) but it only appears in a couple tracks. The clean singing isn't like metalcore though, not the "heavy verse, clean chorus..." bullshit, they actually add to the greatness of the songs and fit in very well.
If you don't like grindcore but you are a fan of technical death metal I am almost certain you're going to love this album. Even if you don't like the genres I stated above that they incorporate in their music don't let that stop you from checking this album out because you'll realize it all flows together and its not as odd as it sounds(at least youtube the songs below). Although, I've heard a lot of die hard grindcore fans bash this album because "its not grindcore! its too technical and they have groove and metalcore riffs!! not true grindcore!!11" so if you're one of those guys I'd stay away from this unless if you can appreciate a band not wanting to be "just another grind band". Overall, "Anomalies" has became one of my favourite technical death metal albums, I'd say death/grind as well but the reality is this is more of a death metal album. Recommended for fans of Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Brutal Truth, Decapitated, A Million Dead Birds Laughing, The Red Chord(CC are less metalcore/deathcore though) and they're not very similar but fans of Suffocation will should like this.
Highlights in *no* order; "Kill for Weed", "Counting the Days", "Scientific Remote Viewing", "Wraith" and "Piecemaker". There's no filler, all the tracks are phenomenal but "Ontogeny Of Behavior" drags on a bit too long.
"Anomalies" is Cephalic Carnage, the experimental grindcore band from Denver, Colorado's fourth album. Prior to this album, the band was fairly immature and focused largely on comedy. Here, we see the band maturing and focusing largely on the music and less on the sentiments of it (something that plagued CC's previous album, "Lucid Interval"). In other words, this is esentially CC's most "musical" album.
All the members shine on this album. Lenzig's vocals are a combination of deep, guttural death growls, high pitched shreiks, hardcore vocals, clean vocals, gurgled vocals, and a less guttural growl, often mixing all into the same song. He is truly one of a kind. Guitarists Zac Joe and Steve Goldberg's riffs are varied as well, containing grindcore, doom metal, southern rock, post-metal, jazz, slam death metal, hardcore, melodic death metal, blues, and metalcore influences together. The drums are played by John Merryman, who provides an extremly technical approach to something usually left at blast beats. John reminds me alot of Flo from Cryptopsy, if that gives you any idea. Finally, Jawsh Mullen's bass shines in the heavier songs, like "Piecemaker", where his bass is easily the driving force behind the brutality (the song also contains two moments when the bass is the only instrument playing, as does "the Will or the Way".) I wouldn't say Jawsh stands out a whole lot, but he's still a very good bassist, and he fits well with this band (although I'm pretty sure he isn't with them anymore.)
With so many genres mixed together, it's a wonder how the band is able to get everyone to remember everything for a show, as there are ALOT of riffs here. Not quite as much as Decapitated use on "Winds of Creation", but alot nonetheless. As far as the songs themselves, each song has it's own identity. Post-metal in "Ontogeny of Behaviour", Death n' Roll in "Piecemaker", technical/brutal death metal in "Enviovore", metalcore in "Dying Will be the Death of Me", the band's primal instincts in "Kill for Weed", and countless more.
As you can see, this band is probably very open minded as far as musical tastes and influences go, but the main influence here is...
Now, the only thing I've ever smoked is sausage, which is obviously not true for these guys. Even though weed doesn't seem to be near as large of an influence as it was on "Lucid Interval" or "Exploiting Dysfunction" (as there is only one weed track, "Kill For Weed") it's still obvious these guys haven't abandoned that comedic "hydro-grind" approach just yet, and I guess I'm glad because that makes it a fun record, not just your average everyday grindcore band who do nothing but shriek and blast.
9.5/10 Very impressive, and very very good as well. Very atypical for this genre, which is usually very unintelligent and simple. Long live Cephalic Carnage!
Anomalies is a special mix of brutality, creativity, insanity and marijuana. The strong influence weed has on Cephalic Carnage must be the reason why they are able to write such amazing music because this has to be one of the greatest death-grind albums ever. The members from Atheist smoked weed to “open their arrangements and lead them to their style,” and Kelly Shaefer is a firm believer that some of the best music Atheist ever wrote, was done under the influence of substances, be it alcohol, weed or something else. I guess Colorado’s craziest cotton mouths must be firm believers in this practice as well because this album certainly does kick ass.
Lighting up with a furious combination of blasts beats and a labyrinth of chaotic riffing, “Scientific Remote Viewing” is one of the faster, more frantic tracks featuring various tempo changes and that schizophrenic, stop/start feel. The following couple of tracks follow suit (although “Counting the Days” and “The Will or the Way” flow much smoother) and then they decided to mix it up completely with “Piecemaker;” a sludgy, psychedelic beast of a song. This is one of the stand outs for me despite its relative simplicity as it is just so god damn groovy. The hardcore influence is evident in the vocals throughout the song as he adopts more of a shouting technique compared to the growling and screaming utilized on the majority of the other tracks and overall, are much more discernable not to mention catchy as hell.
Metalcore-parody, “Dying Will Be the Death of Me,” is yet another memorable track retaining both ball-crushing heaviness and killer groove through nicely executed melodeath inspired riffing as well as an extremely catchy chorus. The combination of powerful cleans layered together with grueling lows is very effective and the subtle little “Come on!” he belts out right in the middle of the chorus is fucking epic. This is followed by an equally epic melodeath inspired solo where the guitarists display their incredible ability through melodic tremolo picking sections and sweeps. The solo in “Sleeprace” also showcases their sheer talent although this time they take a more jazz/bluesy approach.
Another thing I love about Anomalies is how all the songs link exceptionally well together particularly during the latter half of the album. Whether it be the stop/start transition between “Sleeprace” and “Kill for Weed” or the smooth flow of “Litany of Failure” into “Ontogeny of Behavior,” everything falls into place perfectly. “Kill for Weed” also displays excellent dynamic contrast as well as an amazing combination of awesome guttural lows, piercing high-pitched screams and dry, raspy growls. This is one of the best vocal performances on the album and also one of the most brutal tracks. However, they have truly saved the best for last. At almost 10 minutes in length, the final track “Ontogeny of Behavior,” merges many of their influences together into the one climatic trip as well as various post-rock/metal elements. This epic masterpiece is easily my favourite Cephalic Carnage track and crowns an absolutely extraordinary album which I recommended to every single extreme metal fan out there.
When you look at the cover of this album, it just misguides you as to what you’re in for when you listen to this album. The cover almost reminds me of the gothic art that is displayed on some Cradle of Filth album, with all their stereo-typical Goth chicks on the front cover. But wow; is this anything but that.
Then again, what is Anomalies really? I surely don’t know. Death/Grind? I think that title matches their earlier sound, but there is a pretty large amount of Death/Grind here, too. However, this album is too avant-garde to be just that. If anything, Cephalic Carnage just may be the Led Zeppelin of "death/grind", or even the Mr. Bungle. (At least from a lyrical perspective)
These guys are influenced by so much, and what's interesting is how they are able to keep their musical identity with all the different ideas going around in the album. In the beginning of the album you’re struck with some strait up Death Metal with the song “Scientific Remote Viewing”. It’s is actually one of the best songs here. Sure, it may not be Cephalic at their most unorthodox moments, but the structure here is really good.
And for even the first four tracks, it feels like you are getting to understand the band. But they totally surprise you out of the shitter with "Piecemaker". It has a completely different song structure from any of the previous tracks, and the whole first half of the song sounds like Kid Rock if he decided to go extreme. It's obviously a parody song, and they did a great job with the track.
After this song, things just get more and more experimental. Enviovore is like the other tracks before Piecemaker, but that's the last one of the kind. You get the song "Dying Will Be the Death of Me" which is a parody of Metalcore; so I think you understand what it probably sounds like (the song happen to make Cephalic Carnage famous, but I think that might have been because people thought they were being serious about the song). Inside is Out starts getting more progressive, with a longass eerie introduction. The song probably the most technical on the album, but strangely enough; this even has a little bit of breakdowns here and there.
Kill for Weed is the proof on this album that Cephalic Carnage doesn't really take much of anything too seriously, but if you cannot realize it by this point then you have a really bad sense of humor. And the next track "Litany of Behavior" is probably the most uninspired song on this whole album.
But at last you have "Ontongony of Behavior", which is my personal favorite on the album. It's a 9 minute epic doom/progressive track, and humor or no humor; the whole song just moves me. It's one of the best pieces this band has created, not only for being proof that these guys are an extremely creative force, but how many parts of this song has. The beginning really takes it's time, and then it slowly goes into this alternative rock part which gives it a bit more of an edge, but not to much to ruin the moment. Then it goes into this Melodic Death Metal part where the guitar is doing the exact same riff he was doing when he was playing the alternative part, and then gets even more extreme and goes into their Death/grind part. It's hard to explain, but even if you don’t like this band; check out this song.
Overall, this album is just really interesting. It has parts that really anyone can enjoy, and that's probably the big reason why the band has such a wide fan base. I couldn't think of another way to review this album without going track by track, and mainly because this album is so different from anything I've heard. Anyways, I hope you check out this album before any other album they've produced, because it's probably the best introduction to Cephalic Carnage.
I admit, I'm not the biggest grind fan. I prefer my songs 10 minutes long instead of 2 minutes long, I prefer a long build up to a never ending change of riffs, and for me, most grindcore bands mainly consist of a few random riffs stuck together. Still, having heard interesting things about this band, and them being compared to The Dillinger Escape Plan, made me want to get this album. I'm glad I did, because It's a very good showing of all the good parts of grind, with some interesting doom-y bits added in for good measure.
This album kicks off with a pretty damn good song. Scientific Remote Viewing has some interesting lyrics, though the vocals are a bit awkward in some places. Still, it has some really damn good riffs. The first bit is really great, consisting of some really heavy, straight up metal riffing. The blast beats soon kick in, and it's fun for the whole family. For the most part, this album is pure old school grind, though there are some interesting Melodic-Death style riffing in Counting The Days. Wraith has some interesting single note lines, with some very fast blasting underneath. It's good that Cephalic Carnage aren't too scared too write a simple song too. They understand that a progression through 4 riffs can be more powerful then a songs with 15 different riffs. It's that fairly simple philosophy which make this band stand out from all the mediocre grind bands. They may not be as complex as some of the more extreme grind bands, but all their songs are memorable.
While for the most part, this album is furious grindcore, there's a little bit of genre hopping to be enjoyed here. Piecemaker is a really heavy slab of groove metal, although there's still a few good twists in it. Dying will be the Death of me has a real big metalcore feel to it, but again, Cephalic Carnage put their own twist. In fact, that's probably the best song on this album. There's a big solo in it, some straight up clean vocals, and still plenty of room for fast grind riffing. it's a really damn good song. Inside is Out is basically a Jazz song for the most part, while Sleeprace has another cool solo in it. The final song, Ontogeny of Behaviour, is a beast that almost clocks in at ten minutes. Hell, you could almost see this in a Isis album.
This album really was a surprise for me. I bought it for the heavy moments, but it's the slower, steadier metal riffs that really do it for me. If you're a grindcore fan, you'll really like this album for all of it's fury, the time signature changes and the stupidly complicated riffs. If you're just a fan of good ol' heavy metal, you might dig this album too, because this album peaks when Cephalic Carnage stop the grinding and sit on a riff for a while. Maybe not as good as DEP, but still really good.
Just what exactly would the phrase ‘Cephalic Carnage’ mean? Cephalic is defined as: ‘relating to the head, or in the region of the head.’ So it either means carnage inflicted upon a head, or carnage that originates from a head and is inflicted upon other things.
The music certainly falls into the former category.
First off, to determine whether or not you will like this record, here’s what you do:
If you’re already a fan of Cephalic Carnage, make sure you have no prejudice against music that ISN’T utterly zany and completely random, as opposed to music that sounds like it was composed as a well-written and hilarious joke.
If you like death metal, go buy this now. No point in reading further.
If you don’t know whether or not you’d like it after that, here’s what you do. Since you already have one CD player, go buy another one. Then buy two pairs of really really tiny earphones.
Put any release by Suffocation or Cryptopsy on one CD player, and put Chris Poland’s side project, OHM, on the other. Listen to both at the same time. If you like doing this, then you will enjoy Anomalies.
Anomalies is yet another step in the varied musical career of Cephalic Carnage, but tones down a bit on the varied, nutty humor (demonstrated by the fact that if you listen to the very end of Exploiting Dysfunction, all 66 tracks, most of which are merely one second of silence, you get a voice sample that calls you ‘gay’ at the end) that they were previously known well for. Now, this is by no means a bad thing, since the songwriting here is so ridiculously strong that it doesn’t matter.
Apparently, they’ve been lent a good sense of dynamics by their previous musical efforts, and showcase that here. For example, Piecemaker, my new favorite song by this band. It starts out with a fuzzy guitar line that builds up slowly until two are being played simultaneously, and you’re struck with a sense of rock n’ roll urgency right before they launch into an incredibly groovy and satisfying sloooowwww death metal riff with their jack-and-master-of-all-trades vocalist, Lenzig, screeching and growling and yelling over the verses like a spazzed-out demon from Tartarus. The drummer plays these cool, almost funky drum patterns over that fantastic riff, using his double kicks and snare like an artist would use certain colors in his palette.
It isn’t always like that, however. Much of the album is frenzied energetic death/grind with cool jazzy interludes and spacey ambient sections, but that doesn’t matter, because these songs are so excellently written. Never really predictable, but somehow conventional in a good, nostalgic way.
I love this release with an absolute passion, and it’s made my top of 2005 list as well. Christ, will there be room enough for all the great stuff that’s been released this year?
The only noticeable problem with the album is also one of its high points for me, namely, the metalcore parody Dying Will Be the Death of Me. If you like metalcore, or enjoy pieces of music that exist solely to be satirical, you’ll go nuts over it, but if you fulfill neither criterion, then skip it.
Also, Lenzig has adapted yet ANOTHER vocal style, being the ‘hardcore-ish yell.’ It fits in really well with the music, in my opinion, but some may not like it.
I really do enjoy this album, and recommend it to all past and present fans of death metal and/or grindcore.
(originally written by myself for metalreviews.com)
I have been a Cephalic Carnage fan for quite a while, and I just recently got this album. In my opinion it's the most coherent album they've released yet. Cephalic Carnage can best be described as musical mad scientists, fusing together multiple genres and styles of metal. When I first heard this album I was blown away. Instead of going for the style on previous albums where they wrote songs in seperate styles this album is a coherent listen from start to finish without sacrificing diversity. There are nods to grind (especially the more riff heavy varieties such as Necrotism era Carcass and Extreme Conditions era Brutal Truth), mosh style death such as Suffocation, At the Gates style riffing and solos, jazzy bits, and stoner metal akin somewhat to Bongzilla. As with previous albums the musicianship is superb- the guitarists show their ability to solo in different forms such as a melodic death style solo on "Dying Will Be the Death of Me" and a very nice bluesy solo on "Sleeprace". This band is best as musical chameleons- they imitate Meshuggah, At the Gates, Carcass, and Acid Bath very well at times. Their vocalist has increased his range of vocal styles on this album as well, brutally grunting, rasping, shouting, and singing. The main thing about this album is that if you don't enjoy a wide range of metal music, you probably won't enjoy it- grind fans will hate the stoner rock and clean guitar interludes and those interested in the less brutal melodic aspects of the band will dislike the discordant grinding sections. Listen to this with a closed mind and be disappointed. Listen to this with a love for metal in general and you'll find a real gem.