Oct 162010

When you mentally strip away all the small and large luxuries of life, you are left with the basic rudiments of existence, the core elements necessary for subsistence — food, water, shelter, and in our case, death metal. Nothing fancy, mind you, just the stripped-down, fuzzed-out, palm-muted, drop-tuned, guttural-voiced, percussive approach of the old school, preferably played at a galloping pace.

Rhythmic dynamics and squalling guitar solos are plus factors. Melody is not required.

Eye-catching album art is also a plus, like that busy piece of black-and-white ghoulishness up above by an Indonesian underground artist who calls herself “Oikwasfuk“, depicting the Virgin Mary being impaled by a flying-v guitar while five zombies eat her alive. You know, fun for the whole family! Bring the kids!

Yes, when the band wrote us, they cleverly used that piece of art to hook our attention, like fish caught in a gill net — that, and the band’s viciously cool one-word name. But that was only the beginning. The art and the name only lured us into the music, which in this case (to persist with our commercial fishery metaphor) works like a processing plant — removing the head, guts, and pin bones and then blast-freezing the carcass.

The band is Carcinogen, the album is a five-song EP called Unholy Aggression, and the very satisfying sound is death/thrash of the old school. (more after the jump . . .)

Carcinogen is a band from Long Island, NY, formed in early 2009. Yes, they are young, but they have an old soul. Also, in a short time, they’re beginning to make a name for themselves, sharing the stage with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Hypocrisy, 1349, Kataklysm, and Skeletonwitch. They’ll be opening for that skull-cleaving Nile/Ex Deo/Psycroptic/Keep of Kalessin/Pathology tour at its Long Island stop in early November.

And they channel the dead and not-so-dead spirits of bands like Possessed, Morbid Angel, Carcass, and the New York Death Metal pantheon — Suffocation, Immolation, and Incantation.

The pacing on Unholy Aggression is that of a revved-up thrash machine, with occasional old-school breakdowns that cause the music to lurch into a lumbering stomp. Down-tuned, atonal guitars rip and grind and chug. Slashing solos erupt with enough heat to flash-fry your brain to a crisp and melt the paint off the walls. Cavernously deep vocals bark and growl mercilessly.

You wouldn’t expect much melody given the kind of musical antecedents that have inspired Carcinogen, and you won’t find much. But there is one long song — the EP’s title track — that includes a slow, melancholy, passage leading to a clear, melodic guitar solo that succeeded in carrying us over the hills and far away — before the song ramped back up to speed with headbanging chugs and blast beats.

The old school progenitors didn’t bother much with sharp production. Maybe it was beyond their means, or maybe that fused-together, scarred, rusted-out, broken-down quality of the sonic assault was the product of conscious design. Either way, that sonic muddiness has become as central a feature of the music as those dissonant, grinding riffs and subterranean vocals.

Compared to their distant forefathers, Carcinogen have updated the production quality on Unholy Aggression — but not too much. The instrumentation is clear enough, but the band also intentionally didn’t over-produce the EP or do a thorough cleaning-up of small errors. To our ears, for this kind of music, it was a recording/production compromise that works.

For your listening pleasure, here’s an unholy song from Unholy Aggression. Bang yo fuckin’ head:

Carcinogen: Another Page of Hate

Unholy Aggression hasn’t yet been officially released, and we don’t have any info to give you about how the band plans to distribute the music, but when we do, we’ll update this post. More info about Carcinogen can be found on their Facebook page (here) and on MySpace, where one more song from the EP is now streaming.

  13 Responses to “CARCINOGEN”

  1. Well, I’m not exactly a fan of the art. The style itself doesn’t do it for me, while the artwork itself…

    Fortunately, the music is certainly worth a listen. It does have a strong old school vibe, but they haven’t forgotten that this is 2010 and you no longer have to settle for shitty production (or non-production).

    According to their blog, the EP’s being printed/pressed right now and should be available in time for Halloween, with shirts to follow.

  2. I liked this. It’s that traditional death metal sound that really is just no prisoners, no bullshit.
    Im more impressed that this band started (did I misread that?) in 2009. I have a lot if respect for a band that is willing to play what moves them and skip any of the gimmicks (even if I do like them) of thr contemporay sonic landscape.

    But the cover art isn’t doing anything for me either. Kind crust punkish??

    • That and they’ve survived a lineup change already. Their previous vocalist was in another band at the same time, plus a full-time college student. One path had to come to an end, but from the sounds of it, it was on good terms.

      I’d be interested to hear that title track to hear what else they have going for them. It’s one thing to stick to an old school sound, it’s another to embrace old and new.

      • I really, really wanted to put the title track on here, but felt I might be treading on the band’s plans for releasing the music at their own pace. It really shows better than anything else on the EP what these guys are capable of doing. And yes, Phro, this band has only been in existence since 2009, but it appears there was another band some of the guys were in before forming Carcinogen. Still, I think it’s pretty impressive this music is what they set their mind to, and pulled it off so well.

        • Who knows, maybe it’ll turn up on their myspace player. I might end up getting the EP anyway when it’s available. That list keeps getting longer…

          • I think that title track will appear eventually. They put up “Another Page of Hate” as the first new song on Oct 12 and then the second, “Perpetual Suffering” on Oct 15. My guess is they’ll continue to dribble out the songs in a lead-up to the EP release, which I think you found will be by Halloween.

  3. Yes Islander, they have all been playing for a few years, and all have had experience in other bands. I had the pleasure of playing with their guitarist (Dave) for a couple of years back in high school, however back then he was a bass player. Even back then he was extremely talented and very professional. These guys have grown so much since they brought everything together, one name change later and two vocalist changes and you have the current Carcinogen. Very proud of my Death Metal brothers in Carcinogen, and I can’t wait to show off their EP once I have it.

  4. the title track is on their myspace page now if anyone wants to go check it out. The guitar work is amazing.

  5. Another song has been posted. Some great doom-death sections here. The song is called Transcending.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.