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Where Anxiety Comes Across Pain and Hallucinations - 99%

bayern, March 12th, 2017

A friend of mine gave me a cassette in 1990 on which he had recorded the Swedes Carnage’s “Dark Recollections” (side A), and Cadaver’s “Hallucinating Anxiety” (side B). I didn’t delve very deep into those efforts since I didn’t like either very much, so after I listened to them twice or thrice, I passed them on. A few years later we’re talking with this chap about outstanding works of technical/progressive death metal, and he throws in the name of Cadaver. I express my doubts immediately to which he replies by handing me the album reviewed here, It was an original cassette, sent to him by Norway; it looked really good, with the lyrics inside and all, so why not give it a try…

This album came as a byproduct of an amazing year that was 1991; the technical/progressive side of death metal reached its peak at a fairly early stage in the works of Pestilence, Atheist, Death, Gorguts; Atrocity, Dragon, Maple Cross, Darkthrone and Baphomet on the other side of The Atlantic. The die was cast, and death metal was never going to be the same again transforming into a challenging form of musical expression. You would expect an album like this to appear from The Land of the Thousand Lakes (Finland that is) that churned out the most left-hand-path acts on the scene (Nomicon, Demilich, Stone, Maple Cross, Airdash, etc.). Well, it came a few hundred miles West of the Finnish border sneaking somehow under the radar of the black metal “police” which was gradually establishing itself as the dominant force in the Scandinavia. And, we can’t say that Norway had no traditions whatsoever when it came to original music; remember the progressive thrashers Equinox and their labyrinthine, psychedelic “trips”. In other words, the album reviewed here is a gem, one of the post-pinnacles of the progressive death metal movement.

The guys had made a huge step forward compared to the debut with the strong intention on being the spokesmen of the Norwegian death metal fraternity regardless of how small it was at the time. Like their compatriots Equinox again, the band present a compelling complex, hallucinogenic “journey” which begins with “Bypassed”, an outlandish unpredictable shredder with a strong dissonant strand akin to Voivod and steady intricate mid-paced riffage. “Mr. Tumor’s Misery” starts with an instantly memorable tumor… sorry, riff which grows into a faster-paced staccato section the guys changing the rhythms the whole time reaching doomy dimensions at some point before exiting with another portion of easily recognizable strokes. “Into the Outside” brings forward some weird atonality the shadow of Voivod soaring above the band keeping it within the mid-tempo parametres, with more surreal atmosphere dropping later with abstract jumpy motifs predating the ones on Pestilence’s “Spheres”, those brutally replaced by another speedy section. “Blurred Visions” is a maddening disorienting mosher with frequent slower stops from the semi-blasting stride the latter turning to a vortex of mazey technical riffage in the middle. “Runaway Brain” hits with more abstractisms ala Equinox and Voivod initially those also present on the more dynamic riffs that pop up later and permeate the whole song, adding some psychedelic dissonance to spice the proceedings.

“Inner Persecution” tries some violin tunes for a change leading to a spiral of twisted quirky riffage before the guys start creeping forward with suggestive quasi-doomy guitars the brooding atmosphere nicely aggravated by the husky, semi-declamatory death metal vocals; expect more labyrinthine Atheist-esque moments, but nothing too speedy or extreme. “In Distortion” is a short crunchy shredder which suddenly switches to fast aggressive cuts then goes back to “normal” jumpy more sterile dashes that strangely hint at the metamorphosis Coroner would experience on “Grin”. A prophetic album by all means that carries on with the raging “The Misanthrope” which aggressive character is pacified by a brilliant more technical passage for a bit the initial aggression further dissipated by imposing lead-driven doomisms. “Ins-through-mental” is a superb technical, meandering piece which ranks with the best moments from “Unquestionable Presence”, “No Answers” and “Mental Vortex” the guys changing the pace abruptly relying on a few intriguing gallops as well before bringing “Mental Vortex” and the mighty Swiss again with a supreme head-spinning technical passage. “During the End” provides the final slab of surreal Equinox-like chops the band notching it up in the dynamic department with stylish melodic leads joining the speedy rifforama which is soothed mid-way only to continue in a less restrained fashion, the guys blasting their way through another dissonant miasma later the latter becoming denser and denser “diluted” by a peaceful serene nuance provided as a finale.

One wouldn’t expect a band of that name to produce such a “beautiful” piece of art, but here it is, one of the most important, visionary products of the death metal scene. It bridged the gap between the aforementioned masterpieces of the previous year, which were still holding to the more conventional norms of execution, with the deviant, more radically altered opuses that came a year later following the example of Cynic’s “Focus”. 1992 was a ”nomansland” for the death metal practitioners who were quite bewildered at the more complex turn their chosen field took literally overnight, some of them obviously not candidates to join the latter trend due to a lack of the requisite skills; those who did possess them, though, were more than happy to exhibit their talents which led to the appearance of acts like Decision D, Polluted Inheritance, Violent Dirge, Agretator, Ferocity, Demilich and many others who remained just underground phenomena. In 1992 this pioneering work wasn’t the “lone wolf” on the field, but was in the company of other essential gems like Baphomet’s sophomore effort “Latest Jesus”, and Decision D’s and Polluted Inheritance's striking debuts “Razon de la Muerte” and "Ecocide" respectively. Cadaver’s creation was the most eclectic and the most spastic affair of this triumvirate leaving the Baphomet opus to deal with more sprawling progressive structures, and Decision D and Polluted Inheritance to commence the longest running strand on the death metal horizon, the tribute to the father of the genre Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.) and his band Death.

A possible descent to the jazz/funk-infused rabbit hole, which was already gaping wide open mere several months later, seemed to be an option for the band, for better or worse, but they split up leaving the frontman and founding member Neddo unable to contribute more to the amorphous, easy-to-mould at the time status of his favourite genre. This break expanded to a nearly decade-long hiatus when the entire line-up emerged under the name Cadaver Inc. in 2001 for the release of “Discipline” which was the least “disciplined” “offspring” out there serving a wild untamed mixture of black, death and thrash, a distant departure from anything the guys had created so far including their pristine, rough-around-the-edges debut. The controversy around their website (the story can be found with details on The Net) made at the time was more interesting than the music on offer which took much more intriguing and more attractive characteristics on “Necrosis” (2004) that appeared under their old moniker, still a hyper-active affair leaving back metal behind, concentrating on an appetizing, psychedelic again, death/thrash symbiosis which brought to mind the album reviewed here on the few more inspired moments.

Still, it wasn’t anywhere near the creative grandeur of this magnum opus, but at least it was a step in the right direction, and with the guys still active I guess it’s a matter of time before they delight the expectant fanbase with another least ordinary “cocktail” full of anxiety, pain and dark hallucinations.