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Cerebrate > Soul's Abyss I & II > Reviews > TheEndIsNigh
Cerebrate - Soul's Abyss I & II

's Alright. - 57%

TheEndIsNigh, October 20th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2011, Cassette, Psychic Violence Records

Let it be known that I'm down with grimy cassette-released metal. With the return of vinyl and constant underground appeal of the cassette format among underground musicians, no format seems almost too obscure or outdated for any artist of any genre. Which is awesome, given artists more of a choice in what they wish to release and easier access to whichever format is most welcome to their budget. It also keeps the collectability in place, and allows for more limited distribution. All of this allows for artists to release whatever they wish, give out a physical release that appeals to old school metal fans, the underground, and the DIY crowd.

Cerebrate have done just that through Psychic Violence Records. And it's alright.

Cerebrate were part of the Northern California metal scene, boasting members of US black metal heroes Ash Borer. The west coast has been fertile ground for some pretty unique interpretations to the blueprints of extreme metal. Nothing wrong with that, extreme metal is a place is for reinvention and interpretation and evolution. Metal's best artists and albums have risen from such creativity. However, some bands are also pretty hellbent on keeping with old school sounds, the sonic brutality of classic 80's and 90's death metal. Sometimes, this works, and the result is a callback to the anger and fresh violence of death metal's genesis that feels as alive as it did when heshers mail ordered Immolation and Death tapes as instructed from photocopied fanzine advertisements.

Some bands don't pull it off as well. Hence, Cerebrate's 'Soul's Abyss I & II.'

Firstly, Cerebrate have decent intentions. There's an affinity for old school death metal here. It's raw, it's bass heavy, it's rage-y. Yup, it's death metal. No doubt. But what Cerebrate fails to do here is expand outside death metal's most basic elements. It doesn't make for anything spectacular or nostalgic. It feels like another attempt to create something purely ugly and primal. Fair enough, nothing wrong with that, but Cerebrate didn't do anything particularly special here. The songwriting is weak and generic, the instrumentation is pretty standard for death metal, and the vocals are cookie monster growls, nothing more and nothing less.

That being said, one aspect I do enjoy here is the production. Everything sounds gnarly and lo-fi as hell. the guitars are muddy and vile, the bass is low and fuzzy, and the drums, while nothing like the classic Morrisound double bass sound, sound clear enough to help propel the songs forward. It feels like it was plucked from a metalhead's collection of demo tapes that he had amassed from reading fanzines. Which might've been the intent. There's a possibility that the band was trying so hard to replicate that grimy, old school sound that they even downgraded the songwriting. It's possible, but we may never know.

All in all, it's alright. Cerebrate don't do anything too special here, but I did bob my head a bit. There's fun to be had here, especially if you just want some gnarly death metal to take a few bong rips or speed down a highway to. Other than that, it's nothing fantastic.