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It's pretty amazing how confused these three stupid fucking songs have made me since they first came out. This dumb promo has been out for over two years now and I've been listening to it for that entire time, trying to figure out exactly what I don't like about it. I mean, Uterovaginal Insertion of Extirpated Anomalies is easily one of my favorite albums of all time; you can bet your ass that I would be keeping an eye on whatever Cephalotripsy made next. And then it came and I was SO EXCITED BECAUSE IT WAS FINALLY HERE SOMEBODY MAKE TODAY A NATIONAL HOLIDAY and then it turned out to be... this. And it was all weird and crap, and everybody liked it, which only served to confuse me even worse because it was like nobody else in the BDM scene heard the obvious issues that I couldn't ever bring myself to ignore.
Cephalotripsy dropped their old guitarist and acquired a new one sometime between the writing of their first full-length and this promo, which probably explains the change in sound, but it really isn't a very ideal one. Actually, I think I can explain exactly what happened with this promo: Cephalotripsy were unsatisfied with the reception of their debut album. It usually gets cited as some sort of ultimate distillation of slam, where people say stuff like "the genre couldn't possibly get any dumber than this" and so on; but I get the feeling that it receives this sort of attention merely because it's uniformly composed of slams and excises a lot of the riffs that most BDM bands feel obligated to include. Structurally, it is an extremely complex album - the band used time signatures as odd as 20/8 at times, and in what's seemingly a deliberate effort to avoid being too "catchy", the band used lots of agonizing, meandering sections where the music just sort of bleeds out over a slow-paced tempo. It's a very nuanced album (though you have to be paying a stupid amount of attention to it in order to even notice), and yet everyone treated it like a retarded version of slam death metal, not an intellectually composed one. So what did the band decide to do for their new material? In a word, they overcompensated.
The music is simply starting to get way too complex for its own good. This basically feels like Cephalotripsy pushing way too hard to get attention as "that one TECHNICAL slam band" because nobody gave their debut enough appreciation for that aspect of its construction. The music here is much less passive than it was on the full-length; as a matter of fact, all-in-all this may be some of the fastest slam death metal I've ever heard. The band have made their time signature changes and riff changes a lot more frequent, to the point where the music never really has time to settle into a groove for very long, and fast parts annoyingly smash right into slower pieces and vice versa. Lots of times the drummer is playing some sort of dumb snare/cymbal beat that doesn't fit very well with whatever the guitar is trying to do (check out 0:24 of "Entrenched in Fluids of Enigmatic Predation", where the band play a sequence of 5/4 followed by 4/4 and the drums just can't seem to decide where to place any rhythmic emphasis); and the guitar techniques themselves are getting a bit too technical for my tastes in slam with the much more frequent use of pinch harmonics, triplets, and constant alternation between open strums and palm-mutes. In general, it sounds like an intentional effort to make as little sense as possible.
Old Cephalotripsy was catchy slam death metal mixed with some rather experimental parts that gave the music a unique atmosphere - this promo is like the band decided to excise the catchiness entirely and basically tried to be a slightly slammier version of Condemned. The production isn't ideal for slam death metal either: the crunchy and mechanical guitar tone is decent for what it is, but as a big fan of the old Cephalotripsy it's rather alienating compared to Uterovaginal Insertion of Extirpated Anomalies's organic, murky guitar performance. The mix is clogged with a bubble of bass frequencies and the instruments seem to just exist in this treble-loaded air around the bubble, which makes the band feel like they're not occupying as much space as music this dense probably should be. The way the music is mixed feels strangely industrial-tinged, but the constantly shifting songwriting and Angel Ochoa's new style of gutturals (less muffled and uniformly purring, and featuring a lot more variation in the form of roars and whatnot) make the music feel like it'd sound more natural with an earthy, less professional sound. I understand this is a promo, but the band shouldn't be releasing music that sounds this awkward under any circumstances.
Thankfully no other BDM bands seem to have caught onto this idea of hyper-spazzy slam death metal that Cephalotripsy have apparently tried to pioneer here - I'm sure any other band trying to do this would absolutely suck at it and even worse than Cephalotripsy, so I'm very happy that it's localized. ...Goddamn, though, it's disappointing if nothing else. I don't hate this release; I think I could say I "might mildly enjoy it on the right day" because there are a few sections amid the mess that are pretty cool, but all-in-all this a huge misstep. Hopefully the band will have gotten their heads out of their asses and polished everything up by the time their next full-length rolls around, but I'm not holding my breath.
Promo 2011 is something between Uterovaginal Insertion of Extirpated Anomalies and Condemned's latest offering, Realms of the Ungodly. This doesn't come as a surprise, really, when you consider that half of 'Tripsy's current line-up is active in Condemned; the composition style is bound to bleed through just a bit, but Cephalotripsy 2011 is a much tighter unit than they were just a few years back. In
Unlike Promo 2008, which sounded like murkier, unmastered b-sides to Uterovaginal, 2011 is crisp, crunchy and pristine. Well, as pristine as music with a human garbage disposal behind the mic can sound.
There are two notable differences between this promo and 2008's, and you can pin both of them down to growth. Ochoa's vocals are now a perfectly even synthesis of his style in Cephalotripsy circa 2007 and his newly-unveiled bag of tricks on the aformentioned Realms. In fact, his choice of phrasings, rhythms and tones are nigh-on identical to his effort on Realms, so, at times, you really feel like you're listening to Condemned.
This, in a way, is a disappointment, because as much shit as Cephalotripsy has been flicked for its slam-only take on brutal death metal, they did it perfectly, and like many of their contemporaries, they benefited from that "zero treble, typewriter triggered" production. Unfortunately (at least for those of us that find that sound endearing), they clearly had a budget exceeding $50 this time around.
In conclusion, Promo 2011, while compositionally strong and competently executed, lacks the atmosphere and chutzpah of the band's previous releases. Here's hoping the next full-length will show us once again just what exactly can be accomplished with a slammum perpetuum mindset.
Stand out track: Entrenched In Fluids of Enigmatic Predation