Cephalic Carnage - _Anomalies_
(Relapse Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
There are not a lot of negative things you could say about Relapse Records these days -- at least as much as pertains to the quality of what they're currently putting on the shelves. No less than four of their big releases were able to claw their way into the majority of extreme music journalists' top tens last year; the new Mastodon in particular being hailed as the album of the 2004 by pretty much every major publication on either side of the Atlantic. As if that weren't enough, they've already kicked 2005 off to a cracking start by delivering the phenomenal new High on Fire opus, and we now have _Anomalies_ -- effort number four from the Denver mentalists known as Cephalic Carnage, a band who oddly enough even has the likes of Alternative Press and Village Voice touting their praise following 2002's _Lucid Interval_.

A brief scan through the album credits and it's plain to see that the hype surrounding this quintet has spread itself into every recess in the underground scene as well. Amidst the bludgeoning chaos of its twelve tracks, _Anomalies_ features guest appearances by no less than Barney Greenway (Napalm Death), John Gallagher (Dying Fetus), Brian Hegman (Black Lamb) and Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation). And the overall result? Absolutely jaw-dropping.

It's not that _Anomalies_ improves upon its predecessor as much as it's a case of simply trouncing it in every possible respect. It's a sharper, more focused and even more eclectic work than _Lucid Interval_ -- interspersing its manic grinding with solid slabs of southern stoner groove and even the odd moment of melodic singing. Remarkably, no matter how off-kilt the band get, it all seems to blend perfectly together, helped in no small part by Dave Otero's stunning production job.

For a genre that just a few years ago was about as exciting and innovative as a trip to the dentist, it's great to see the fires of creativity burning so brightly once again in the grindcore camp. But for all its Nasums and Pig Destroyers, _Anomalies_ is proof that when it comes to truly experimental extremity, Cephalic Carnage are simply in a class all of their own.

Contact: http://www.cephaliccarnage.net

(article published 7/4/2005)

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