"Beyond Cops, Beyond God"

By Thor

On paper, Waking the Cadaver possess all the attributes I like in brutal music. They're guttural, they deftly mix speed and slams and they combine some  classic death metal chops with a nice dose of  hardcore punk. Yet, for some reason, I just can't seem to commit to fully enjoying this band. Their latest offering "Beyond Cops, Beyond God" is a marked improvement over their past output, yet it suffers from some familiar problems.

Stylistically, Waking the Cadaver is a mash-up of Dying Fetus' hardcore death metal relentlessness and Jungle Rot's devotion to 4/4 groove, but with an unfortunate insistence on metalcore style breakdowns. However, these breakdowns are not featured as explicitly or as incessantly as they were on the band's 2007 effort, "Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler". And to give credit where credit is due, "Beyond Cops, Beyond God" moves the band in a positive direction, refining their style as they switch tempos and textures, and utilize a dynamic-if-not-various bag of tricks.

In fact, a limited arsenal is this album's most damning problem. The first track is brutal and interesting, shifting tempos and incorporating multiple elements of extreme metal. But after a few more songs, it's clear that Waking the Cadaver has a formula to which they adhere and once the listener is able to identify that formula, the songs lose much of their potency. For example, several times throughout the album the band will play a riff in several variations, inevitably finishing these passages with slams achieved by playing the respective riff at half the original tempo.  The first time they do this, they deliver a power bomb that makes you want to smash through a wall, but by the tenth time it happens, you just want to smash your iPod.

The production on "Beyond Cops, Beyond God" is fantastic, especially when compared to their raw debut. The vocals are the most dramatically improved element, as Don Campan employs a powerfully expelled guttural style much of the time rather than the inverted pig squeal style he favored on much of the last album. Performing live, Campan's inverted vocals sound forceful and deep, but for whatever reason he's been unable to replicate that on CD. His decision to utilize a more conventional guttural style on "Beyond Cops, Beyond God" is a good one, as they seem to have translated to the studio much better.

Waking the Cadaver is a band that I really do want to like. And "Beyond Cops, Beyond God" is both a solid offering to the death metal gods and better than their last album. However, whatever X-factor exists that compels me to love this barbaric strain of metal is unfortunately elusive to this band. Although they've gotten closer to capturing this mysterious mojo, they're not quite there yet.