Cephalic Carnage – Misled By Certainty
Often events in and of themselves, new Cephalic Carnage projects are easy tools to rally with against the naysayers who guffaw at the notion of experimental extreme. At the same time it feels almost insulting to label tracks like “Jihad” as anything except the most brutal of grinders. Let’s not start pontificating on the “high society” Cephalic could or do appeal to, it really takes the sizzle out of the “Kill For Weed”s and “Pseudo”s this embarrassingly “edge” manboy can’t help but love; rounding out what loosely feels like a trilogy of discs (preceded by career watermarks Anomalies and Xenosapien) Misled By Certainty is worthy of the CC prefix, and of its placement in a surprisingly more confident scene since 2007. Sheepish to weigh heavily on criticism, possibly distracting from what is a remarkable tracklist, the set-in-their-ways demeanor pervading Certainty has downplayed the band’s historically present upper hand. The leaps of faith are made, but more tentatively executed over the course of Misled By Certainty.
Easily catapulting this year’s similar efforts such as Inherit Disease‘s Visceral Transcendence, “The Incorrigible Flame” rolls through town wantonly, trading their now-established riffery with ancillary sludge grooves; its often straightforward, buoys of free time that highlight notation over effect. This means that the legendary intros from the likes of “Endless Cycle Of Violence” are gone, instead getting the show on the road with all its attractions in tow – they can’t wait to let you hear all their new ideas. Immediately drummer John Merryman is predictably tight and layered but finally using a less abrasive tone – still dry, his kit mixes far more warmly, allowing his previously understated groove and snare subtlety to shine. Also evident earlier on is how often this disc takes cues from past material (specifically their previous two), where “Abraxas Of Filth” taps as well as “Molting” did, with “Warbots A.M.” riffing like “Dying Will Be The Death Of Me” – not outright riff recycling like hype-predecessor Polarity, but bridging motifs, expanding the palettes that were all too brief on albums past. Summer Slaughter tourmates take note.
The pace of this outing blooms from Xenosapien highlight “The Omega Point”, grooving into structures with a linearity that is quite becoming of them. As mentioned, it’s about content over attitude this time out, an aesthete’s death metal opus that rarely misses. But fuck all that, it’s also a love letter to doom and sludge, a Relapse pet project that feels executed with a modicum of romance and a majority of filthy sexts. It’s good, sometimes great, and the band has removed space to parody heavy music tropes to slam out some heavy as dicks doomery. Hydrogrindin’ through “Raped By An Orb” (yes!), and “P.G.A.D”, it also masquerades as a Cephalic fan’s album, a misdirection that allows them to fine tune their own machine instead of shouldering some kind of weight that comes with reinventing a genre.
Album best “Ohrwurm” and somewhat compelling “Repangaea” bookend the closing half while drawing from the best parts of “G.O.D.”. The latter typifies the instrumental-mastery-versus-straightforward-writing compound that Cephalic Carnage have been tinkering with throughout their discography. It’s definitive of their sound, as is this entire effort, and still manages to feel like a marquee ticket. And yet should I feel this comfortable when throwing on one their albums for the first time? The joys of being rewarded for having expectations also come with the twangs of predictability, previously this band’s most alluring nemesis. Yet, we still have “A King And A Thief” slapping us around a bit for considering for a second that this band was about to stop surprising us.