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The Spirit in Black Faded to Grey - 84%

bayern, January 1st, 2019

Here I am, sitting, looking at the page here, trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll be the first reviewer of this album more than two months after it has been released. Well, the band have never been the most celebrated outfit in the world, and having in mind how deplorably disastrous the preceding showing was, it’s probably understandable this caution exercised by the writing community… no one wants to develop some severe form of cancer by touching another insalubrious spirit even though the latter may have been purified by flames and the likes.

And here I am, willing to break the deadlock, especially after the mind-opening journeys that I made these past few weeks which convinced me that I’m pure consciousness with a holographic, illusory bodyframe that nothing, literally, can affect let alone a trio of UK death metal veterans. Well, these three troubadours by all means deserve a certain amount of respect as well for having been together even since the inception, trying their hands on other things (the very short-lived death metal project Hail of Fire) during the few breaks, but largely staying true to their deathly cancerogenic vistas, the last two instalments before the one here obviously not falling into this lethal category.

I never became Cancer’s most devoted fan out there, and although I will easily recognize both “To the Gory End” and “Death Shall Rise” from whichever several-sec segment from them you choose to play me half-asleep at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’ve always had reserves regarding their repertoire. Certainly, those “stained faiths” and “flaming spirits” time and again must have made quite a few other metalheads feel the same way, but the band surely had their highs in the now distant past, too, and now we’ll try to see how this new outing fares compared to those feats of old…

well, on first, and even second and third, perusal everything seems to be in place, juxtaposed against the first two efforts of course, the staple non-rushed stomping death/thrashiness, John Walker’s venomous guttural vocals, the dark permeating vibe… experimental staggerings towards the last two instalments can hardly be detected, and it can’t be any other way with short blistering speedsters like “Garrotte” and “Ballcutter” propelling the album forward, not giving the fans too many chances to enjoy more complexly-executed numbers like the varied not very predictable “Down The Steps”. The officiant doomy aura of “Organ Snatcher” is definitely a pleasant surprise, a steam-rolling cut with echoes of the guys’ compatriots Bolt Thrower and Benediction, a nice atmospheric stopover which influence can be felt (“Half Man, Half Beast”) later on although the band never steer the album towards the fields of doom the scenery steadily traversed by the wayward headbangers “Thou Shalt Kill” and the title-track which deliberately pull the delivery in death metal’s direction, the final “Disposer” trying to break their stride with a portion of less intense, albeit still intimidating battle-like rhythms.

This is waaaay more like it, guys; and right on time as the classic death metal idea has been finding it hard to breathe on the Isles recently, with the Bolt Thrower saga terminated and Benediction not doing much at all on the creative front for the past 10 years or so. It’s really good to hear the good old Cancer bending it the old way with all deviant temptations left behind, the band creating another fearsome “beast” that isn’t very far from matching the mentioned first two albums even on the most inspired moments. The preceding miscalculated decision almost feels like a distant memory a few listens down the line as the three veterans still have it in them obviously.

With the world bracing itself again for another battle against cancer and other musical perils; cause more of those will be served in the future for sure. Death’s grip is getting tighter, but we’re not rushing to get out of it, not for the time being anyway; we want to see how far this trio’s possible second ascension will reach…