When tracing the most pure and nascent evolutionary steps of death/doom metal throughout the 1980’s each act that’d become a new pillar distinctly owes some rhythmic dues to the Hellhammer‘s clairvoyance into the future, Dream Death‘s righteous doomed-thrash mangling of those forms, and (depending on region) Sempiternal Deathreign‘s own distraught teenaged gloom. By 1990 at least three notable bands had gotten the death metal aspect of this sound ‘right’ enough that the combination of metal sub-genres began to make sense as its own ‘thing’; Paradise Lost, Winter, and Cianide each took their own chalice of primordial ooze from extreme metal progenitors and created their own specific and lasting tributes. When attempting to draw my own crooked line towards the inception of a well-established and tirelessly die-hard band such as Cianide it might be more important to additionally consider Slaughter‘s maniacal chainsawing as well as the general Chicago area extreme metal scene of the late 80’s, which was more than just another violent teenaged suburban revolution. The barbaric bluntness of death metal that arose in the Midwest as the decade progressed was no mistake within these spheres of influence and Cianide remain an important constant. But we’re all living well beyond those old and well-trodden 80’s and 90’s, eh? Three decades later Cianide have countless releases to their name including six full-lengths that’d see their sound modulated between different extremes while always retaining a signature sound first defined on ‘A Descent Into Hell’ (1994).
Cianide‘s monumental sixth album (‘Gods of Death‘, 2011) felt as if it had released an eternity beyond ‘Hell’s Rebirth’ (2005) and I’d echo that sentiment with their latest EP, ‘Unhumanized’. As if compelled through geologic time they’ve slugged out another patented set of songs that are unquestionably the unbending will of the oft-imitated (and borrowed from) Cianide. Consider all the joyously putrid caveman death metal clogging all veins these last five years and no doubt at least a third of them hold fast comparison to this ‘power trio’ menace; As the proverbial new wave chugs out fairly standard death/doom influenced records left and right few of these inspired youths have developed their own key personality traits such as those of Cianide, who own the intensity amplifying ‘open-wah’ guitar tone and the wildly bent, momentum capitalizing doom-thrash riffing they’re best known for. In terms of the best doom and death metal through the ages, separate or combined, simplicity is power and ‘Unhumanized’ may as well be the blueprint for the congealed strength of both practices but that doesn’t mean it sounds like that ‘The Dying Truth’ reissue you’ve had on your shelf for a few years; In fact much more speed and power has enhanced their fusion in the span of these last couple of decades since.
Two minutes into “Serpent’s Wake” and you’re ready to receive the most pure essence of Cianide condensed between the finessed simplicity of the warbling bent riff that flows into the ensuing ‘To Mega Therion’-worthy grind. The riffs aren’t ostensibly ‘caveman’ but without a grasp of clever songwriting and an unpretentious true heavy metal attitude it is hard to see many modern death/doom bands as carriers of even half of the personality that these guys manage so effortlessly. And I don’t intend for this review to be some kind of masturbatory worship of the band, they’ve been consistent to a fault in the past, but ‘Unhumanized’ drops into the bucket-end of 2019 to bleach the waters of death metal’s most bland infections and reminds me how effective the real thing is versus their spawned influence.
“Weapon of Curse” is a fine example of the stairway to hell Cianide would find around 1997 with their third album, pushing up towards brutal horizons of jog n’ stomp dynamism and then past them into greater variation with their next several albums. It’d be fair to say that ‘Unhallowed’ is just a good hit of the Cianide folks know and love nothing more, nothing less and the major notes to make include some streamlined writing and a cleaner, bigger sound than their records in the 2000’s. That said, if you like this and don’t own ‘Hell’s Rebirth’, ‘Death, Doom & Destruction’ you’ve definitely missed out by only focusing on their early 90’s stuff. I took to this record immediately as a longtime fan who’d discovered the band from their split with Nunslaughter around 2002. Up there with the best of December this year and exactly the sort of record I’d want from Cianide. High recommendation.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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