Canker – Earthquake

The endless plains, mountains and forests of Spain crawl with death metal bands, the vast majority of whom were formed in the 90’s, disbanded, and then reformed again during the 2000’s. Canker is yet another such band, and as usual it’s Dave Rotten and Xtreem Music that makes sure they are once again heard. Earthquake was recorded in 2005, but has taken until now to surface. About dog garn time, if you ask this reviewer.

Earthquake is a relentlessly creative effort of death metal. With a solid base in old-school death metal riffing, the album is packed with different influences and musical experimentation. Synth infused, border line black metal parts (“Hand of God”) are replaced with Destruction-style thrash riffing (“Biosphere”) and even heavy metal – all while the fundamental framework remains traditional death metal. The vocals shift somewhat between deeper and not-so-deep, at decisive moments even moving into spoken-word or pure thrash, but these latter instances are few and far between.

The absolute high-point of the album is “Leyla Island” – a thundering death/thrash anthem bearing some resemblance to Chaos A.D. era Sepultura. Tribal drums, didgeridoos and extremely cool latin/generally southern melodies mix with heavy death metal riffing and a groove that could kill a lesser person simply through its awesomeness. It is a track for the ages, one that may be meant as an outlier and an experiment but could probably serve as the starting point for a band’s entire style.

The sound is crisp and the mixing is pretty much exactly right for this type of death metal. Like many other releases on Xtreem, there is no overuse of triggering, compressors and synthetic “brutality” – while everything is well separated in the mix, there is a certain degree of live feeling to the whole thing. The drums are especially organic, despite being very clear and rather heavy. It is not difficult to picture the actual drums standing there in the middle of the rehearsal space, being pounded with gusto as the rest of the band shapes the violent nightmare unfolding around them. Canker is yet another welcome addition to the death metal stage. Earthquake will be unleashed on the 18th of September through Xtreem Music.

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