CADAVERIC FUMES – Echoing Chambers of Soul (2021)REVIEW

Red-eyed as they slide their own coffin lids back into place with a groan, French ‘new old school’ death metal corpse Cadaveric Fumes have demonstratively peaked in terms of their craft just as they decide to lay down and die, leaving behind a perfectly preserved specimen of hard-nosed extremism and stylized progressive death metal performances — All of it well worth picking through and feasting upon in moldering, slop-smacking ecstasy. Five years in construction and a total of ten years in rotting practice ensure enough time for this debut full-length to have stewed and ripened in personality, presenting as an essentially flawless, properly rough-edged merger of the planes shared between classicist death metal attack and progressive and/or psychedelic rock influenced outward-bounding hypnotic tirades. ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘ is a sharply pin-pointed and long pondered ideal realized for the sake of a very specific, enlightened taste that is at once intensely traditional and wildly exploratory.

From their first demo (‘Macabre Exaltation‘, 2012) you could tell these Rennes-based fellowes had some notable grasp of classicist death metal riff generation, working themselves up to the high standards of underground death metal patternation obsession. They could, and still can, put together solid examples of pure death metal riffcraft but that isn’t the entire appeal nor the major focus of ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘, and much of their output beyond that first demo tape for that matter. Cadaveric Fumes were in conflict of identity as early as their split EP w/Demonic Oath (‘Entwined in Sepulchral Darkness‘, 2014), attempting to find natural resonances between old school death metal’s steadfast mindset and any potential marriage possible between what most folks would consider experimental progressive/psychedelic rock applications to ‘new old school’ death metal rhythms — A line of sight which we can see most clearly in the first half of the 2010’s thanks to experimental sophomore releases from both Morbus Chron and Tribulation, ideas which have been healthily expanded upon and reinterpreted for nearly a decade since but not yet completely mastered.

The emergent character of Cadaveric Fumes was most evident on their praised offering of the ‘Dimensions Obscure‘ (2016) EP, allowing the band their first name-making release without losing their pure death metal edged appeal. You’ll find similarly elevated forms, a decidedly pure balance of detached atmospheric musing and brutally confrontational rhythm guitar music in the crew’s associated projects which include Necrowretch, Sépulcre and Venefixion. I knew they were for sure headed in a sort of Eldritch sci-fi/horror psych-death direction after hearing ‘Heirs of Hideous Secrecies‘ (2018), a fantastic split 7″ with Skelethal which I’d reviewed at the time; It’d reinforced some of those aforementioned arcane prog-atmodeath ideals alongside those explored on ‘Demo 2017‘ (2017) the year prior. With the band’s discography listened to in succession with consideration for the ten year process of invention and the six year space in between ‘major’ releases, there must’ve been some pressure for ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘ to be a revelation beyond the band’s formative years. The conflict in mind to start, before the album bit a hole in my brain and reassembled its contents, was that I was not sure the logical enough progression it presents was said revelation. From riff mastery to notable songcraft by way of elite psychedelic ambiance, the first few listens had potential enough but my reaction was retarded, er, slowed and slurring to start ’til the album revealed itself as a burrowing, infectious creature. The eureka that Cadaveric Fumes offer here to the willing mind on their debut comes in slow, easy waves of suffocating warmth — a wriggling and fearsome pressure upon the ear drum, intent on prying all thoughts loose of containment with sinister, thorn-like mandibles.

Showered with sheets of distant-ringing guitar effects and immaculately concieved by way of empyreal breaks into nigh celebratory sunlit rapture “In Cold Astral Sleep”, a deep-set chunk of Side B, acts is an achievement on the scale of a mountain as it plays, peaking right in the midst of the rapturous contemplation which defines the last third of ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘. It’d be the song that’d first immersed me in the experience but it wasn’t the exact moment the cornucopia of their action began to pour of its riches. Much of what Cadaveric Fumes does [did] as a band centers around the astral-projected guitar work achieved and a proper render, a clear yet warm presence where the blood leaves the flesh and festering death arrives. It is the most fitting sound for what sort of music this is, a record on the post-‘Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm’ death metal spectrum of rhythm work with circa ’92 death metal dripping from its bones (see: “The Stirring Unknown”). The way the band achieves this does occasionally invoke Stench‘s ‘Venture’ to some degree (see: “A Desolate Breed”) and you’ll have to categorize this nearby Morbus Chron by default but Cadaveric Fumes‘ sound is their own, a bit more doom/heavy rock leaning. The solo on “A Desolate Breed” is worth mentioning here, a genuinely cinematic death n’ roll meets ‘Invocation of the Continual One’-level performance that helps the album deliver a high peak right before Side B reveals itself as dimensional breach, a sagacious event for atmospheric death metal’s niche-heavy evolution.

By delivering two equal yet distinct sides of itself ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘ better illustrates the path of the wanderer in hunt of that which is always out of reach, inadvertently discovering an uncertain enlightenment in said travels, much in the same way Siderean‘s brilliant ‘Lost on Void’s Horizon’ did earlier this year. “The Engulfed Sepulcher” is the piece to kick Side B off beyond a remarkable instrumental track (“Waters of Absu”) which presages the second half. The fact that the band have decided to call it a day after this record releases would normally be confusing, considering it is the best album released this year, but the suggestion that they’d burnt themselves out for the sake of this album or just lost personal interest is still surprising considering the mastery on display on songs like this. And so the cycle continues where we’d started with “In Cold Astral Sleep”, a brilliant Fibonacci sequence out of existence and a quickly developing habit on my part. For my own taste this is a remarkable step in and out of death metal skin for musicians who’ve composed this record on a freshly high pedestal, it is an unholy soul-rupturing experience to witness. The crux of this sensation lies within rhythm and arrangement but it is Cadaveric Fumes‘ finely voiced lead guitar work that gets me there personally and immerses to no end. Leads occasionally appear to be speaking in turn and/or tandem with the vocalist, reaching a handful of frantic solar moments outside the mind that aren’t necessarily referential of post-music but instead offer a second generational step within the realm of bands that’ve influenced the merger of worlds ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘ presents.

Cadaveric Fumes‘ final leap into the unknown sees them exiting out of the karmic wheel and unto nirvāṇa — Their debut quenches all desire with ascended statement, taking care in its coexistence alongside past work while entirely refining it, vaulting its way unto an well above-average record intent on transcendence of death metal formulae. There is no shame in going out with a bang but it should be obvious enough that I’d be happier if they’d kept going with this sound, the actual experience of ‘Echoing Chambers of Soul‘ in motion does ultimately nullify any mixed feelings I’ve about their exodus via the escapist bliss reaction it generates but all grief and misery will remain. It is an album of mournful perfection from my point of view, a glimpse into the eternity of the ‘self’ and perhaps one of, if not -the- highest recommendation I’ll give this year.

Highest recommendation. (100/100)

Rating: 10 out of 10.
TITLE:Echoing Chambers of Soul
LABEL(S):Blood Harvest Records
RELEASE DATE:December 10th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Progressive Death Metal,
Atmospheric Death Metal

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