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Cephalic Carnage - "Misled By Certainty" (CD)

Cephalic Carnage - "Misled By Certainty" CD cover image

"Misled By Certainty" track listing:

1. The Incorrigible Flame (4:30)
2. Warbots A.M. (4:38)
3. Abraxas of Filth (3:44)
4. Pure Horses (0:37)
5. Cordyceps Humanis (5:05)
6. Raped by an Orb (4:14)
7. P.G.A.D. (0:34)
8. Dimensional Modulation Transmography (5:04)
9. Ohrwurm (4:56)
10. When I Arrive (3:08)
11. A King and a Thief (2:45)
12. Power and Force (1:38)
13. Repangaea (12:11)
14. Aeyeucgh! (0:31)

Reviewed by on January 27, 2011

"With elements of death, grind, parody, and the plain indefinable, [Cephalic Carnage has] created an album that defines eclectic and mentally deranged fury."

What exactly is Rocky Mountain hydro grind? The correct answer you’re looking for when defining the genre spawned by a certain Colorado-based band of recreational drug enthusiasts/unquestionably talented musicians is “Whatever the fuck Cephalic Carnage want it to be,” a statement proven on their sixth studio album, “Misled By Certainty.” With elements of death, grind, parody, and the plain indefinable, these Denver members of the Mile High Club, which in this case has nothing at all to do with airplane bathroom fornication, have created an album that defines eclectic and mentally deranged fury.

Leading off the album is “The Incorrigible Flame,” a THC soaked vision of atonal madness rife with time signature changes and fluid solo work that comes on like a hit from a vaporizer. In “Warbots A.M.” technical lead riffs comprise the verse while vocalist Lenzig Leal digs down deep to the low end of his range and rises up to dirty, wet highs. Some pinch harmonic squeals courtesy of demented guitarists Steve Goldberg and Brian Hopp, who makes his recorded debut with the band on this album, keep the brutality factor sharply in play.

“Abraxas of Filth” showcases the finger tapping skills of bassist Nick Schendzielos and the technicality and surprising synchronicity of Goldberg and Hopp, considering they haven’t been playing together for all that long. Is there a band in death metal with better song titles? Enter the grind on the next song, “Pure Horses,” a sub-40-second blast storm. In stark contrast is the next track, “Cordyceps Humanis,”—it’s sludgy and slow, in a haze of sustained down-tuned chords and minimalist but menacing drum work and black metal rapid fire single note alternate picking.

On “Raped by an Orb,” palm muted chug triplets roll and unforeseeable blasts unsettle the slower progressions in the most positive sense of the word. Drummer John Merryman is a master of time signature changes and keeping things consistent yet varied and unpredictable. The dissonant fill in riffs of Goldberg and Hopp are a signature of the Cephalic Carnage sound. Speaking of fill ins, “P.G.A.D.,” another grindcore throw in, comes up next as the band channels its inner Agoraphobic Nosebleed.

There’s no denying the influence of various recreational substances on the lyrical and musical output of this band, as can plainly be seen on “Dimensional Modulation Transmography.” A spoken word intro alludes, in a very unsubtle manner, to a hallucinogenic trip, and the song in itself is an escape from reality that offers a different kind of atmospheric sensibility milked from the death metal aura. “Ohrwurm,” a track many will be familiar with thanks to the twisted video released for the song back in September, features more otherworldly bass work from Schendzielos and the technically proficient playing of Merryman gives the song some true backbone. Merryman’s Hellhammer rolls and punishing and unpredictable nastiness are vital to Cephalic Carnage’s overall sonic imagery. And the riffs are well and truly plucked from the other side of the doors of perception and brought to our realm on the backs of terrible winged beasts of the mind’s unlimited and unlocked creative potential.

“When I Arrive” is a straight ahead blaster—a mosh inducer. The range of Lenzig is another key component, as he delves into clean singing on this one. Is this the satirical side of Cephalic Carnage emerging to take a swipe at the ‘core elements of the contemporary scene? Next, “A King and a Thief” features an almost classically inspired solo that is taken from predictability to the band’s trademark place of dementia. “Power and Force” is a less-than-two-minute tour of what sums up Cephalic Carnage—grind, death metal, parody, insanity—it’s all part of the same hallucination, the real identity of the band alternately revealed and obscured.

This brings us to the centerpiece of the album, “Repangaea.” At over 12 minutes long, it takes up about a fifth of the space on the album, and shows that Cephalic Carnage, in true stoner spirit, just go with it—“it” being whatever a piece might call for; whatever that particular trip demands. This slow, auditory draw out begins with a saxophone solo, and also includes a passage on the piano. It’s a hit from the bong, held in long and exhaled slowly through the nasal passages—a meditation on division, destruction, human folly, and greed with apocalyptic overtones.

Just to show that the band hasn’t started taking itself too seriously, “Misled By Certainty” ends with “Aeyeucgh!”, another 30-second grinder with the title onomatopoeia apparently sandwiched in the middle. It’s been quite a ride. Don’t take the purple acid. Or do.

Highs: "Misled By Certainty," in fitting with its title, is a paradox; it is the essence of creative chaos and controlled unpredictability.

Lows: The grind tracks seem something of an afterthought.

Bottom line: Cephalic Carnage does what they want, and they do it well.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)