An Epitaph To Tranquility (2009)
Teeth of the Divine
How the fuck is it that 3 my favorite albums of 2009 are self released (two being Kalisia and Be'lakor) and one of them, Cephalectomy's An Epitaph to Tranquility is a FREE FUCKING DOWNLOAD????? That's right. The full length follow up to 2004 excellent Eclipsing the Dawn (not counting the 28 minute single track, The Dream Cycle Mythos), from these Sylvain Houde era Kataklysm worshipping Canadians is free.
Self described as "Northern Mystigrind", Cephalectomy's admitted Kataklysm worship is a mix of technical death metal, grindcore and dare I say epic, melodic metal. Take Kataklysm's Sorcery or Lykathema Aflame's Elvenefris and throw in grindcore's shortened direct songs and some ridiculously out of place but somehow perfectly fitting and epic harmonies and you have the almost unclassifiable Cephalectomy.
Where as Eclipsing the Dawn had some relatively drawn out long 4-5 minute songs, An Epitaph to Tranquility doesn't mess around, delivering 12 short stabs (11 of the 13 tracks are under 3 minutes) of chaotically epic craziness that blend together, complete with numerous atmospheric interludes and it all somehow works.
Again, the programmed drums blend in seamlessly with the vortex of grinding melodies that present a challenging dichotomy; grindcore this chaotic, shouldn't be this melodic and, well, catchy. It's like shred-riffic band such as Dragonforce were to play insane grindcore with huge unearthly growls and screams and a backdrop of Lovecraftian ooze and psychosis.
After the delicate, misleading intro "The Obliterating Swarm", "The Splintered Pupil" sets the batshit insane tone as does the acoustic stop start grind of "A Submergence of Will" and the totally melodic blast of "The Accumulated Conscience" which reminded me of "Of Grievance and Exhumation (The Fallen)" from Eclipsing the Dawn. This ridiculously enjoyable formula is fleshed out by a majority of the tracks (the Rambo introduced vortex "Feast of the Saints", "Architects of Abomination", "Son of Tellervo", "A Loathsome Ceremony"), but, as if their enigmatic, insane take in grindcore wasn't enough, Cephalectomy show they can be restrained also with the likes the already mentioned intro track, the almost Bal-Sagoth-ish instrumental "For Our Fetid Fathers", somber closure of "The Freedom of Enlightenment" and the surprisingly delicate outro to the otherwise mind fucking "The Urchin Peel". Fans of genre bending quirkiness and mind melting creativity should go ahead and grab this release now before a label slaps a sticker on it and charges you $15. How often will you get an album this good for free (legally)?
I discovered this album purely by chance about a year ago, scrolling through various tech-death on YouTube, and stumbled across a song from this album. At first, I discarded it. It sounded like someone slurping dried shit through a straw. I then returned to the same song on YouTube a week or so later, with a more open mind, and since then I'm glad I did. I realised the melodies and dissonace behind the vocal insanity. Sitting back and reflecting on various ideas that piqued my curiosity, I realised that this was simply a diverse, unorthodox form of death metal. It's pretty much musical Marmite however, some comment warriors thought this was the best thing since sliced Brain Drill, and some expressed a rather colourful distaste for the album. But I disregarded them all, and set to work trying to formulate the most basic opinion on this album, and it really has been difficult. But I think I've sussed what makes this album what it is.
After some research, I discovered that the album is not available in stores, or anywhere for that matter. It's only available for download, FOR FREE FROM THE BAND'S OWN WEBSITE. I don't have a clue what the company that released this is up to now, this is their last known release after an 11 year run starting with Dichotic's Collapse Into Despair. At least they ended on a high note, and I get a free download, courtesy of the band themselves. That deserves some credit.
Musically, the album is what you make of it; to some it's an eyesore, to others it's a sight for sore eyes. I personally think that this is nothing short of a masterpiece. They have just 3 members, as there's only one guitarist who doubles up as vocalist, then a bassist and a SECOND VOCALIST!? That's right. They have 2 vocalists, and use a drum machine. Which is fair enough, since there are double bass patterns that even the likes of Kollias and Maurias would struggle with. The drum patterns often focus on incorporating basic snare rolls as a beat, with a simple bass pedal pushing everything along, which takes some getting used to. Apart from that, once you pick apart bits of snare resonance, the drums are extremely well written. It's a complete mix n' match of blasts, gravity rolls, and some serious double pedal work that even the writing of which is worth a medal.
One thing that really stands out to me, within the half-hour of chaos, is the bassist. First off, he's audible. Also, he follows himself rather than playing follow the leader with the guitarist, like a high-school rebel. But it really works once you pick apart everything else. You can first hear this on A Submergence of Will, but then again on many other songs, especially Feast of the Saints, The Urchin Peel and The Loathsome Ceremony. It's low, loose and nausea-inducing, and I fucking love it.
The guitars are a technical shred-fest of chromatic runs, and even some slightly terrifying riffs. The Loathsome Ceremony is actually scary, the way it's written. You have to hear it to believe it. There are even some beautiful tremolo lifts that add a gorgeous new light to the brutality the guitar normally delivers on this album. Architects of Abomination and Feast of the Saints both have one. The vocals stand out like a sore thumb on this album. It's just so diverse, from screechy highs to brutal lows, to cricket voices, to gutturals, it has everything. The first proper song, The Splintered Pupil, has a clean high scream (Like Job for a Cowboy's Entombment of a Machine, only good), a gut-punching low, a guttural, and even an evil laugh, all in the first 20 seconds. There's even a point in The Splintered Pupil where the vocalists make use of their diversity, changing every half-second to a different style in a quick bridge section. It's pretty goddamn cool, to say the least.
One thing that NEEDS to be mentioned about this album is breakdowns. No, not deathcore-esque chug-a-lug sections, I mean a death metal breakdown. Something that makes you want to headbang, and uses more than 2 notes. There's one in pretty much every song on the album, and they all have something different. One includes a quick melody that almost entices vomit to rise from your stomach, despite only being 4 notes long. One has a bar in 5/4, just to throw you off. There are more that contain some perfectly executed harmonics, both artificial and natural, and they all add a new light to the songs.
The things that make this album so listenable on a whole to me, are the fact that there are 2 soft instrumentals, and the fact that the songs are all very short. The longest song is The Urchin Peel at 3 mintues and 48 seconds. The first instrumental, The Obliterating Swarm, is the first song, and mixes a simple piano ostinato with some nicely played atmospheric synth. The second, For Our Fetid Fathers, is a rather beautiful instrumental, that allows one to sift into a dream world, while a beautiful acoustic melody floats over some military trumpets and marching snare, later into the song. Just to boot, The Urchin Peel also has a piano/violin outro, which sounds SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL. It's just an incredible mix on the whole, every song has its own special part that stands out amidst the album.
Overall, this album just rocks. I have nothing more to say to be honest, it's just a perfect mixture of everything I look for in Death Metal. Fans of truly unorthodox death metal/deathgrind binds like Brain Drill or Mitochondrion, this one's for you. To those who listen and disapprove, come back to it in a week or so. You'll be surprised.
The Dream Cycle Mythos (2008)
It's difficult to review this album because it's difficult to describe it. Is it tech-grind? The sound a car crash makes when played in high speed under a hail of bullets? Dogs with guitars? Spastic, Parkinson's-suffering neurons firing off a volley of messages before exploding like so many grapes in microwaves? Let's call it all of these things and make everyone's lives easier before we get into a fight about new sub-genres of metal.
So, the music. Take a jigsaw puzzle and spill it on the floor. Now, give that puzzle guitars and drums and even a piano, a vocalist whose voice could curdle milk, and throw in some PCP and Speed (Med-X and Jet, for those of you who never leave the house). What do you get? A psychotic mess of notes, growls, groove, crunch, sweeps, arpeggios, and pinch harmonics that, theoretically, sound like about 25 different songs all played in succession. The band could have split up The Dream Cycle Mythos into many songs, but by keeping it to one track, the segues from section to section are instantaneous, and help to keep this jumbled mess organized.
Yes, there is organization to this. To the untrained, or untr00 ear, the song is one giant cluster of psychotic non-music. But, to us metal maniacs, and especially those musical theory nerds out there, the album provides us with a musical exploration of the brain. How? Think of the path a thought makes. It starts in one region of your dope-destroyed, booze-busted, sex-obsessed brain, and launches at untold speeds to another section, interacting with other elements along the way. Sight, sound, smell, taste these all play a role, as do your memories. They flood your brain with images and words that help to recall numerous things at the same time. More complex than any known computer, your brain is the most difficult organ to comprehend. This album sounds like what your brain goes through when you think, a nanosecond journey told over twenty three minutes.
Of course, that description might not work for someone who doesn't listen to metal, grind specifically. But, to them any kind of metal seems like a jumbled mess of notes. The sections of the album do have cohesion to them, though, despite their sporadic nature. There are even portions that replay at times, the way a chorus would in a more traditional song. The title of the song/album evokes this cohesion too, as you try to recall the pieces of your dreams and bring them to order. It is a sort of chaotic order, at times a mess, at times a blur, but stylistically linked to every moment gone and yet to come.
It's possible to go on and on for days about how this album redefines genres and subverts expectations and all that technical and intellectual junk, but is it any good? Without a doubt, it is. Cephalectomy have created a monster of an album, one that manages to collect everything extreme about grind and present it in a crazed package. If you like gurgling vocals, seizure-inducing drums, and screaming guitars, get this album. If you don't like that stuff, get this album. Why? Because it needs to be heard to be fully appreciated. A review can only say so much before the words lose meaning and the author writes in circles: get this album, and try to wrap your head around it.
Cephalectomy's latest 23-minute high-octane grindcore epic tells a compelling story, both lycically (although the lyrics need to be read) and musically guiding you through one man's internal journey into visions of the darkest possible proportions. Single-track, over 20-minute epics can be done right, can be done wrong, and can be done in several styles, most notably doom, viking or traditional metal, but a grindcore song? And honestly calling Cephalectomy grindcore, grind/death or any other slashed term is selling them short at this point, the bands accessibility makes it a sort of grindcore for non-grindcore fans. Accessibility is loosely used here, because the music on "The Dream Cycle Mythos" is nothing short of blistering and brutal. It's just that the musical elements outweigh simplicity and it's melodies outweigh any sort of mundane cliched grind ideas, so it's creativity keeps it fresh and interesting, and therefore more accessible than a boring by the book death metal band. And if the story is paid attention to, it's creepy, apocalyptic and troubling. I'm reminded of how my stomach felt the first time I heard Carcass's Necrotisism, or how my optimism crumbled after watching Requiem For a Dream. But it's deeper than that. "The Dream Cycle Mythos" is an intricate reach onto several peaks in several different metal categories from traditional to black, from death to doom, and it speaks to you in a way not unlike some of the best horror films soundtracks of past and present. Often jackhammering away percussively at a frantic pace, one really can't throw this aside and pay it no mind, and this style will be familiar to those who've heard the bands previous masterpiece "Eclipsing the Dawn" a few years ago. So digging through this unique opus and gazing upon it's bleak apocalyptic cover, I find very little wrong or too long as the track whips by and all I can think of is that I want more.
Nova Scotia-based Canadian early Kataklysm worshipers Cephalectomy are back with their first solo effort since 2004's Eclipsing The Dawn entitled The Dream Cycle Mythos. The release consists of a single twenty-three minute track and is easily the band's most ambitious and varied offering to date.
The song structure on The Dream Cycle Mythos is incredibly complex as the band fuses many different styles into a single song, switching between relentless chaotic death grind and the most calming and soothing orchestral melodies imaginable. The most common approach the band takes on this track is consistent with the band's earlier discography; fast, technical chaotic death grind highly inspired by early Kataklysm with wild frenetic riffing, inhuman gurgles, growls, snarls and shrieks backed by a relentless blast beat.
In the brief interludes between the chaos, the music is much simpler and more soothing, with soft keyboard-led melodies that are as gentle as laying on a cloud. The thing that's great about "The Dream Cycle Mythos" is the transitions from one segment to the next are seamless, you really feel like you're just listening to one song rather than a combination of multiple songs crammed into one, while no two sections really sound alike.
The album has constant tempo and melody changes, when Cephalectomy aren't soothing you to sleep or shredding your skull to pieces they're picking you apart with original, complex technical riffs and melodies.
The production on The Dream Cycle Mythos is perfect for the material the band create, every instrument, grunt, gurgle, growl and blast beat comes across clearly. Throughout it's twenty-three minutes you'll have an endless number of bands rushing through your head as you try to think of comparisons. The only thing you can really say about this effort is that it is as unique as it is crushing.
If you yearn for the days of The Mystical Gate Of Reincarnation and Sorcery-era Kataklysm you're going to lose your shit when you hear The Dream Cycle Mythos. That's not to say Cephalectomy are a clone of Kataklysm, it's similar in style and structure, but with a lot more emphasis on the chaotic grind aspect of the material. If anything it's more like one part early Kataklysm, one part Portal, one part Depresy, one part Watchmaker, one part Gigantic Brain and one part Cephalic Carnage all beaten and mangled into one warped and twisted slab of unforgiving extreme metal that'll leave you battered, bleeding and screaming.
The Dream Cycle Mythos does take some time to get into. I probably listened to the entire album, beginning to end, at least a dozen times before it clicked. There's just so much going on all at once that it becomes very overwhelming at first, it really takes some patience to listen to the album a few times before it all starts to make sense and the album goes from being simply a big wall of sound to being a truly original and awe inspiring slab of technical death grind.
If that wasn't enough, The Dream Cycle Mythos CD is packed with tons of extra goodies including the band's entire killer 2004 full length effort Eclipsing The Dawn in MP3 format, insane covers of Misfits "Horror Business" & "Where Eagles Dare" and Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight", some previously unreleased tracks and a video for the song "The Igniting Tempest".
If you're a Cephalectomy fan, a fan of early Kataklysm, a fan of technical death metal or a fan of insanely chaotic death grind, you have to buy The Dream Cycle Mythos, it's just way too good of a release to pass up. I'd suggest listening to the tracks on Eclipsing The Dawn first to familiarize yourself with the band's sound, it'll make your first listen of The Dream Cycle Mythos much easier to handle. Highly recommended!
Horns High Online Magazine
You know, 23 minutes is about average for most grind-core releases. What is irregular about this album however is that these 23 minutes are spent in one song. And not only that, but the lyrics, which in this sub-genre usually focus on death and gore, are instead focused in an epic style that most power metal bands would be jealous of on the descent of one man into insanity. Now onto the pluses of this album, which there are many of. The first is the atmosphere that is generated, it is quite honestly crushing. The unusual symphonic style of the album may turn many pure grind fans off of this album, however I feel that it adds greatly to what otherwise would be a straight up grind album, allowing it to send chills up the spine's of its listeners. Also as I recently found out, there is no drummer in Cephalectomy and all the drumming was programmed in; so for a couple of guys who don't know how to drum themselves, they did quite a good job of programming them in. The use of blast beats is not overused as it is by many new death-core bands but instead used only where appropriate, not when they want to be "BROOTAL".
The guitar work was nothing spectacular, however this is not something that detracts from a GRIND album as it is not a genre known for its solos. I am quite happy to say this for the guitar though there was not a spot on this album that bored me, which is a trap that a lot of grind bands fall into. I listened to this album serveral times trying to find it, but I was unable to pick up on the bass guitar. Despite their bassist having a degree in Jazz Theory I still had difficulty hearing it in the mix. Nevertheless, The Dream Cycle Mythos did not miss a beat. The Vocals for this album were something I quite enjoyed. At times they kept in the grind tradition of harsh and fast, however at other times, they somehow managed to be both rough and soothing. Leaning towards to a vocal style alike Aaron Stainthorpe from My Dying Bride. These vocals complimented the subject matter quite well in my opinion; however they could have been cleaned up a little bit more in the production process.
Now, this leads us to the negatives of this album, but there aren't many. As stated the mix of the vocals and bass could have been cleaned up a bit more as they sound extremely muddy in some parts. This however is just personal preference as I know some prefer the extremely distorted sounds of D.I.Y. grindcore/death metal/black metal. The other thing that I noticed that is worthy of notice is the song itself. Although I loved it, I felt that the album might have benefited if it hadn't been one single song and instead broken into several different tracks.
Now onto my rating for this album, I am going to give it 4.5 horns out of five. Not only for the inventive lyrical content of the album but also for the drumming and vocal style (note, I said the clarity of the vocals needed to be fixed, not the vocals themselves). be sure to pick up this album as I can guarantee you that you will never hear this session band perform live.
Since the mid 1990's Canada's Cephalectomy have been churning out their relentless "Sorcery" era Kataklysm inspired death metal. On this stopgap EP "The Dream Cycle Mythos" the band present their most vicious, technical and varied material to date since "Eclipsing the Dawn" (2004) and "Sign Of Chaos" (2000). From jagged frantic riffing, dense and complex song structure to the excessive blasting, the bestial vocal lines and otherworldly lyrical prose everything about this release screams a fixation with Sylvain Houde fronted Kataklysm. On this plus 23 minute single track epic Cephalectomy display more technical finesse, more songwriting prowess and overall originality than most of its contemporaries and possible inspirations. This one track goes through more contrasting sections of melody and brutality, sudden tempo changes, soothing orchestral sections and interesting dynamics than most bands do on an entire record. Cephalectomy are masters of their craft and this EP should be able introduce them to an international audience. Recorded at the band's own Mystigrind Studios "The Dream Cycle Mythos" comes with a bone-dusting pristine production that can easily compete with latest releases of bands such as Behemoth, Vader or Kataklysm. Coming with stunning artwork by Jason Nichols which reminds a bit of Omnium Gatherum's "Stuck Here On Snake's Way" in composition and execution. "The Dream Cycle Mythos" can easily compete with any major label backed release out there today. For all intents and purposes, Cephalectomy do this genre with much more gusto and conviction than the originators themselves.
Cephalectomy/Bound In Human Flesh Split CD (2005)
Cephalectomy is one strange beast. I bought their 2004 effort Eclipsing the Dawn on a whim and I fucking loved every minute of it. They brought about this strange, Lovecraftian-obsessed technical grind band that was being straddled and simultaneously given the reach around by old school Kataklysm, spewing its load on the listener. And it was an amazing, dare I say homo-erotically gratifying and tasty load at that. You wanted to be made Cephalectomy's bitch and Cephalectomy's bitch you were made.
This split- on the other hand- sees a more reserved side of Cephalectomy. The crazy "mystigrind" of past releases is still there, but the effort is focused around a more forward death/grind approach obsessed with horror films. The dual screech/beast vocals are ever present, sounding like a tumbling battle between a banshee and a behemoth locked in mortal combat. The drum work isn't just a stream of linear, constant blast beats and demonstrates a nice variety of rhythm and structure. The riffs haven't deviated too far from the catchy, yet insane sound of Eclipsing the Dawn yet they do show a better harnessing of melody and structure. And the horror motif is caught perfectly by Cephalectomy: running the gamut from Herbert West in "Resurrection Injection" to horror's favorite Michele Soavi film in "Dellamorte, Dellamore" the split gives Cephalectomy the best shit to fuse with their catchy, insane death/grind. Fucking ace material is what to be had by Cephalectomy on this split.
Then there is the matter of Bound In Human Flesh. The band is new to me, yet is headed by a pretty familiar name. It started as a one man death metal project by Jamie Vautour, one of the blokes behind Obscene Eulogy, a Canadian Impaled Nazarene clone that actually had the distinction of getting Mika from Impaled Nazarene on vocals. Given his work with Obscene Eulogy, I wasn't too excited going into this side of the split. Obscene Eulogy had its ups and downs, but ultimately it fell to the way side on my cd player.
And this more than likely will be the fate befalling Bound In Human Flesh, too. It's standard, catchy blackened death metal with a drum machine pounding away in the background. The riffs are enjoyable and fast as hell, and the drum programming is definitely better than some grindcore bands I've heard, but it comes across as overly simplistic and derivative. The music is by all means catchy- and "Zombie Children" is pretty god damn cool in all respects- but in the end there's nothing stopping you from hitting the skip button on this half of the split. It's definitely worthy of a few listens though.
The Cephalectomy material definitely makes this release a worthy grab. They pound the material into your skull like a horrible mud wrestling match between a bikini-ed Cthulhu and Stuart Gordon, getting down and dirty in their chaotic grind. Bound In Human Flesh doesn't fare as well, but is worth a look, kind of like a half-way attractive ring girl calling the rounds at the mud wrestling match. Give it a shot!
Eclipsing The Dawn (2004)
Never Ending Hate Webzine
True Northern Mystigrind!!!!!!! What is that you ask? Mystigrind is as told by the band themselves: "Uncompromising,extreme death metal with melodic Scandinavian metal and a touch of power metal riffing to create a sound that is truely unique." It is nearly impossible to compare CEPHALECTOMY to anything other than their own entity. Some of the influences I heard while lisetening to Eclipsing The Dawn were everything from MALIGNANCY to CEPHALIC CARNAGE to KATAKLYSM to IRON MAIDEN to MAYHEM. If you were to throw all of those above mentioned bands into a big blender,you would have CEPHALECTOMY (or at least a massacre on your hands). Fans of black metal,death metal,grindcore,thrash metal, power metal,and/or any other hybrid of metal will get something out of listening to CEPHALECTOMY's Eclipsing The Dawn. Depending on what genre of metal you most prefer,you will get your own ideas of what Eclipsing The Dawn meens to you. It's like one of those pick your own ending novels where you pick the ending that best suits you. I can not think of even one other band that can top that!!!!! Fuck straight forward song crafting,it's boring most of the time,CEPHALECTOMY knows this. They have sick time-changes,breakdowns,melodies, layer upon layer of varied vocal stylings of sheer brutality. For instance; a song could start off with a beautiful melodic part and then break loose into a whirlwind fury and then into a breakdown to a spoken passage and then into another time-change!!!!!! CEPHALECTOMY have the balls to take chances when other bands just remain the same album after album. Experience True Northern Mystigrind for yourself,and head out and pick up CEPHALECTOMY's Eclipsing The Dawn,it's a complete mindfuck!!!!!!
After Sign of Choas, there were rumours that Cephalectomy would not be making any more music, especially as one of the two band members had left Nova Scotia for Alberta. Eclipsing the Dawn is proof that you can't keep a good (evil?) band down.
The lyrics to Eclipsing the Dawn read like they could be a Lovecraft story, with various members of the Lovecraftian pantheon being invoked, including everyone's favorite squid-head, Cthulhu, who also makes a guest appearance on the cover art, which harkens back to the early 90's Swedish death metal cover art.
Musically, this new Cephalectomy disc continues in the vein of Dark Waters Rise and Sign of Chaos, with a maddening number of tempo changes, alternating shrieks and growls, overlapping vocals, and general musical mayhem. The more melodic elements that began to appear in Sign of Chaos make themselves apparent once more, with briefly discernable melodic parts in the chaos, and actual melodic and acoustic breaks. Also added to the Cephalectomy sound are some black metal and doom elements, such as wall-of-sound style guitars ala Primordial, to slow, crushing doom. Also added are some hardcore shout-vocals, and Raland Kinley (of Dichotic) as the voice of God, a role I'm certain he was all too eager to play.
Yet, it's not all serious, as the Monastat 7-like break near the start of "Discerning Thee Apocryphal Divinity" clearly demonstrates. Overall, a top-notch album from a killer Canadian band.
BTW, check out their website for a bunch of bonus material, including some covers, the Dark Waters Rise Demo, and a rare live video of Cephalectomy.
The Metal Observer/The Undergrowth
In whirlwind of blasts, tortured shrieks, precision riffing and demonic growls, the blasphemers known as CEPHALECTOMY have returned in 2004 with an album no extreme Metal fan should overlook. Having categorized themselves as "True Northern Mystigrind", one would be hard pressed to more accurately label the aural chaos found on "Eclipsing The Dawn", the band's third release. With their 1998 demo "Dark Waters" and 2000's "Sign Of Chaos" already on their resume, the band have succeeded in remaining consistent in the underground extreme Metal scene despite their location (CEPHALECTOMY hail from Truro, Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada) and continue to do so with "Eclipsing The Dawn".
Completely and utterly uncompromising, to label CEPHALECTOMY as merely a Death or Black Metal band would be an insult to the material in question. By layering shrieks and low-end growls over a backdrop of frantic yet extremely tight drumming and precise, oftentimes catchy riffing (with some clean guitars thrown into the mix), "Eclipsing The Dawn" is as unique as it is chaotic. On the lyrical end, CEPHALECTOMY refuse to take the easy way out by allowing the mystical themes of H.P. Lovecraft to come alive on each of the album's eight compositions, adding yet another dimension to their sound. Even more impressive and more than worthy of mention, is the fact that all of the music apparent on "Eclipsing The Dawn", save for additional vocal duties, were performed by one man. His name is Corey Andrews and how he managed to perform all guitars, bass and drums on this album (as well as contributing vocals) is really beyond me. Either way, it is basically impossible to question the effort and commitment that was put into the making of this release, which is something that is apparent over the course of its duration.
Fans of all things extreme should easily find something worth banging their heads to upon encountering the madness that is CEPHALECTOMY's latest brew of blasphemy. Though I could further attempt to describe this release, I believe the press release said it best: "'Eclipsing The Dawn' promises to kill you and each of your family members slowly and painfully with each listen." Need I say more? (Online June 29, 2004)
Back To The Grave
I was taken aback by the opener Of Grievance and Exhumation(The Fallen): a calm, melodic sound suddenly bursts into moments of relentless brutality, excellent drum work and speed, speed, speed. Vocals are unmistakeably rotten and vary from the deep grunted to the slit shores. Midway through the song there is yet another acoustic moment, I would say it complements brutality by enhancing it. But before babbling further on the album itself, please allow me to introduce the band. CEPHALECTOMY have released '98 demo Dark Waters Rise, which earned them a deal with Discorporate Music, via which followed the debut CD Sign of Chaos (2001) and the present piece of masterful mystigrind art Eclipsing the Dawn (2004).
CEPHALECTOMY officially play Mystigrind, which should be a myriad of influences ranging from H. P. Lovecraft's writings to whatever the insane minds of mastermind Corey Andrews and evil bard Jason Nichols have to offer. And that is saying a lot, because Eclipsing the Dawn is variation impersonated (not to be taken for experimentalism).
Discerning thee Apocryphal Divinity starts off as a rather doomy song, in the old ANATHEMA/CANDLEMASS vein, only to be brutally murdered and transformed in some amorphous proposal of brutality. In fact, despite the ever-present frenzy madness, CEPHALECTOMY never set melody aside, and Eclipsing the Dawn varies from brutal grind to an almost symphonic level of melody, alternating madness with bonanza. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. This is powerful stuff we have here. CEPHALECTOMY have also managed to include a sample of The Lord of the Rings (Are you frightnened? | Yes | Not nearly frightened enough.) intertwined with musical responses. That is a rather innovating detail.
I could not help noticing I keep writing "they" when I am not sure it is fair. CEPHALECTOMY is the result of one man's effort, Corey Andrews, on guitar, bass, drums and vocals, with a little help from Jason Nichols' demonic voice and lyricism. There is one Rob Decoste character responsible for "crimes against humanity", but I still have not quite figured what it represents. There is only one slight problem to the recording: vocals are not always clearly perceptible, an aspect the band will probably bear in mind in their next opus of maleficent tyranny.
What else can I write about Eclipsing the Dawn? It is an album to remember, to say the least, unique and very different from what is or ever was practised in the Death/Black music scenario. CEPHALECTOMY's mystigrind is light-years above mediocrity and present their music in rather complex ways. A proof that Canada has a lot to offer (just think of CRYPTOPSY and ORIGIN).
Do you miss old Kataklysm? Do you miss the mystical hyper-blasting and over the top lyrical, otherworldly vocalizations of Sylvain Houde? Well, Country mates Cephalectomy are for you dear reader. Nova Scotia's Cephalectomy have released a superb album that re-creates the Northern hyper-blasting of Sorcery; insanely fast brutal death/grind with surprising amounts of intricate, layered melodies and a Lovecraftian concept with multiple characters (all vocalized with unearthly growls, screams and more screams) with some suitably trancelike interludes slithering amid the horrific chaos. This Canadian duo churn out some wicked songwriting, that is full on Kataklysm worship with some Lykathea Aflame-like ambience thrown in, and the end result is that Eclipsing The Dawn is one heck of a mind-altering ride. The album is a little light in the production side of things, but it actually benefits the complex multi-layered sound, rather than drown the intricacies in a wall of down tuned mud. The programmed drums are seamlessly integrated (I actually could not tell they were programmed until I read it elsewhere) into the maelstrom of the continually shifting guitars. Opening salvo Of Grievance and Exhumation (The Fallen) simply blew me away right out of the gate, (the break at 1:33 being particularly breathtaking) and other than dragging slightly due to longer, more epic songs, the album is pretty much a completely satisfying, liquefying album. As per their obvious peers, songs are broken into various chapters and characters dialogue, often with the shift from song to song undetectable without the LED readout in front of you. As Espousing the Lore of Ancient Mythos starts without a split second hesitation from the already impressive opener, I'm wandering if I've ever heard such mindfully melodic brutality that retains both technical savagery and well rounded harmonies, despite the raucous vocals patterns fighting to relay their characters lines. I'll admit after the first 2 superb songs, the album levels out somewhat, but still manages to deliver the same mix of grindcore chaos and an almost blackened sense of grim yet epic melody. Fairly often, acoustics or synths break up the swirling vortex of monstrous noise (Discerning Thee Apocryphal Divinity, The Ghosts of Reprisal and Strife), and that's where Lykathea Aflame rose as a comparison, with a nightmarish tranquility and grandiosity mixed in with the already ritualistic atmosphere. The haunting instrumental song Squalid Eyes of Impending Treachery shows Cephalectomy's lack of rigid grindcore schematics, instead allowing themselves to breathe their own air and create a break in the album that fits in with the overall concept as well as allow the listener a breather. Other than those breaks, the album is generally a cyclone of immense power, with very little traditional grindcore grooves or breakdowns. Only Discerning Thee Apocryphal Divinity slows down, and I mean slooooooows down to a molten crawl, with perhaps the longest growl in history. Eclipsing The Dawn certainly creates the Cthulu-ish visage of god-like horror and madness within a musical scope and the short sharp burst of The Sundering of Eternal Sentience puts a brutal exclamation point to a deep album with suitable closure. A perfectly balanced, well executed album of conceptual grindcore that's not afraid to expand boundaries.
Sign of Chaos (2000)
Two years have passed since Cephalectomy released their Dark Waters Rise demo, a recording I openly admit to disliking, and I was extremely hesitant to even give the CD a listen. In fact the CD remained unopened on my desk for nearly two weeks before I finally decided "what the hell" and gave it a listen. I remember when I last listened to their 1998 demo I was filled with thoughts of "this band should never be signed, they're horrible", and was actually extremely disappointed to find out they had been signed by the little known Nova Scotia label Discorporate Music. Well, it seems that in those two years the band has once again improved dramatically and grown into their sound and, much to my surprise, sound like well-polished veterans, even more surprising to me was the fact that I liked what I heard, and I liked it a lot. It's amazing what a difference 18 months can make, and in the time it took to create their label debut, they seem to have improved in every aspect I had once been highly critical of. The drumming is faster and played with more authority and skill than ever before, the riffs and rhythms are far better and more entertaining than ever before and the double vocal approach has been refined to the point where I not only find them to be bearable, but totally get into them, the sickeningly deep and guttural lows especially. To say I am impressed with their improvement is an understatement. Their new tunes stick out over their previous work like Ron Jeremy's tool of the trade on a midget. The music is reminiscent of early Kataklysm in it's passionate aggression and chaotic approach, mixed with the rhythm of Swedish death metal (which was an obvious influence in Kataklysm's early days as well) and brutality of European grind. Of course the band does lose points for ass-kissing after adding me to the thanks list, even though months ago I did make both Jason and Corey cry due to comments made about Dark Waters Rise, and this was an obvious attempt to butter me up, but, on the other hand I am a cheap whore and am always overjoyed to see my name in a thanks list and have people spell "Teufel" properly. On that note, for the life of me, I still cannot understand why so many misspell it as "Tuefel", how are these people even able to find my website if they cannot even spell the first six letters of the domain name properly? Fucking whores. Anyway, that has nothing to do with this review, what does have to do with this review is that over the course of the past 5 years I have listened as these two grew from a simple death-thrash garage band to a full-fledged complex entity now worthy of the title "True Northern Mystigrind" and of the contract they signed to Discorporate. I'm glad to have been able to hear this band's progression from their very beginnings to where they've gotten to today through hard work and dedication, and look forward to hearing where the future takes their music next. Now that I have given both Jason and Corey their praise, could they please pull the knife away from my dog's throat and pull the gun away from my temple and kindly fuck off?
Chronicles of Chaos
The last time I reviewed Cephalectomy, it was their five-track demo _Dark Waters Rise_in CoC #34. Things have definitely changed for the band, both in sound and most importantly production. While still garnishing their brutal death metal attack with sounds reminiscent of Brutal Truth and Internal Bleeding, the band has managed to forge for themselves a solid death metal groove of sorts. Not bad for two guys (Jason Nichols and Corey Andrews), eh? Powerfully commanding, the band's deliverance will blow you away should you stand close enough to the speakers of your stereo system. While some might shrug them off as just another indie Canadian death metal act, Cephalectomy have proven that with time and patience, their direction and sound can be intensified -- check out tracks "The Ravaged Crimson Fields of Evanescence" or "Dimensional Manifestations of Ashen Forms". If you like your metal fast and furious, I suggest some East Coast (Canada) death metal to digest over the holidays.
Once again, a mighty flow of aggression comes from Eastern Canada (Nova Scotia to be exact!) in a thundering wallop. As expected, I am knocked flat on my ass by the violent and brutal death metal work of Cephalectomy on the new disc, a definite level up in the intensity department. It seems as though the East Coast has offered up some of the best acts this country has to offer in the last little while (i.e. Dichotic, Burning Moon, Sheavy, etc.) The most appriciated aspect of the work of Cephalectomy is that it basically just presents itself as it is: brutal music. This is brutal music - it is that simple. Production here is much better than past demo efforts too. Overall, Cephalectomy has the goods. It's up to metal fans to support the Canadian music scene and see what we have to offer.
From the cold land of Nova Scotia comes Cephalectomy, described as "true northern mystigrind". Well I have no idea what mystigrind is supposed to be, but Cephalectomy is relentless, brutal, psychotic grind with a mix of bizarre ideas and riffs, complex arrangements, and varied mental-asylum vocals meshed together to drive the listener plain bonkers! Insanigrind would be more like it! One man, Corey Andrews, is responsible for most of the work on Sign of Chaos, and he has done an impressive job of arranging everything, playing all of the instruments, and making everything work, even if things get a little sloppy at times. Grind, death metal, and black metal influences are evident, but Corey doesn't blast his way through every song like typical grind bands. There are plenty of dynamics throughout, although more really slow material would be nice. And the first and last songs each contain a really short soft and clean segment, an element that, expanded upon, could result in even more variety and flavor. And I was taken by surprise when I realized that the songs here are of an abnormal length. Instead of the less-than-two-minute assaults most other grind bands write, Cephalectomy's range from above three minutes to over six. To coincide with the chaotic, ever-changing music, twisted vocals are added and are what stand out the most on this album, for they are truly demented. Corey is assisted by a second vocalist, Jason Nichols. So while Corey provides the higher and mid-ranged vocals, not to mention all the other sick and crazy throat-slicing screaming insanity, Jason performs the lower grunts and subsonic belch vocals reminiscent of early Carcass and Demilich. Honestly, I could do without those superlow belching vocals, and at times some of Corey's vocals are a little too ridiculous. Plus, cutting down on the amount of vocals would make room for instrumental passages, thereby allowing the music to be the focus for a change. But overall, the various vocal styles are an essential element to Cephalectomy's intense mayhem. On top of this, one of the greatest things about this release is the multimedia portion, which includes a bio of the band, lyrics for Sign of Chaos (because they're not printed in the booklet), a pretty long video of studio footage, plus lyrics and mp3's for Cephalectomy's demo Dark Waters Rise. So overall this is a very impressive album.
Dark Waters Rise (1998)
I finally received this demo/CD from this chaotic brutal death/grind from Canada. This is their second demo and I'm certainly impressed by this now two piece band. Not only is Cephalectomy chaotic in the guitar riffs and fast beats, but also in the vocals which varies from double to even triple vocals, maybe more! This band just amazes me coming from two young guys not even in their 20's! Musically, Kataklysm and Dying Fetus comes into mind, but more chaotic and groovy with little melody in it. Songs that really impressed me were Shroud of Mysticism and Over Mountains of Ancient Power. Omens of Elder Creation is definitely the highlight track of this demo/CD. With Omens' insane vocal patterns, catchy riffs and weird time changes, one can see that Cephalectomy is worth looking up for in the near future. If you're disappointed with the new Kataklysm album (in which I'm sure most of you Kataklysm fans are), make sure you contact these guys and pick up this demo right away!
Chronicles of Chaos
While the music comes across brutal for all to hear, the production of this band's material (now on CD format) still lacks something. Much like the weak production on their three-song demo _Gateway to the Gods, _Dark Waters Rise_ loses a bit of appeal with the weak production, though the music and its wickedly violent pace soon dissolves that dilemma. From the get-go, the music of Cephalectomy flows with intensity and anger, lashing out at us with a wicked sneer, crushing us beneath the weight of the band's multi-styled playing. Influenced heavily by bands like Brutal Truth and Internal Bleeding, Cephalectomy rarely slows the pace down, shoving heavy riffs and growls into our face as much as they can. It's intense and quite good. Snag yourselves a copy by contacting the band and support the Canadian metal scene.
Gateway To The Gods (1997)
Chronicles of Chaos
I'm presently surprised by the material here from the young Nova Scotia three-piece death metal/grind act Cephalectomy. While the production on this demo (their first one, let's give them a break, eh?) is not really that good, the three songs on the demo really do sound solid. Well-written material that flows with intensity and anger. Lashing out with a multi straight forward and brutal. The vocals are vicious throughout and guitarist Corey Andrews shreds some heavy riffs. Too bad the demo only has three songs as they really do show a lot of talent and are keeping me interested of what is to come. I'm happy Cephalectomy submitted a demo to us here at CoC, 'cause it keeps me believing that metal does exist and is thriving in Canada.