Cumbeast’s Gore Zoo – Fun For The Whole Family Or A Jur-ass-ic Park?
Thanks to Gore Zoo (brought to you by the InGen/Rotten Roll Rex merger) you can now get sarcofucked by a cocktopus, in the chickencage. Of terror. But what’s David Bowie got to do with it?
Brutal death metal is something that I’m constantly on the lookout for, more often gravitating towards the grindier fringes of the genre, though I am no stranger to the most w/iggnorant slams an’ skramz either. It is, however, something I don’t return to all that often as well. As in, there’s few albums that manage to maintain my interest so that I would return to them after a while, instead of just moving on to the next album. I attribute much of this to a certain lack of memorability that almost seems to be built-in to the genre, the brutality eschews everything else.
On the other hand, this makes it relatively easy to stand out to a certain extent as well, all you need to do is riff a little better, have something of a hook, or, for the lack of a better word, use an extra-musical gimmick to enchance a song, or a particular passage to more firmly anchor focus on it.
The bands that have come back to most as of late, the likes of Stillbirth, Abysmal Torment and Wormed, each have a largely distinct sound of their own, that’s set them apart from their peers on top of riffing better and having hooks (which in this context, it should be noted perhaps, do not resemble a pop hook in the least, nor do they necessarily function similarly as a recurring, central songwriting tool). Abysmal Torment’s downtuned extended-range guitars invoking djentier tones give them an extra level fatness rarely encountered in brutal death metal, Wormed’s technical mastery and sci-fi/asstrophysics inspired riffs are like no other, and Afterbirth’s intelligent songwriting and somewhat progressive-minded influences that don’t strip away at their brutality are without a comparison.
All three of the aforementioned ways to maintain a bear’s attention could be used to describe Cumbeast. While they’ve so far eluded the upper echelon of the genre, they’ve not been too far off. On their earliest records, that I am chiefly familiar with through the re-recordings of Recycled Nastiness, they employed a riffing style somewhat more indebted to OSDM than is common among their peers, giving the songs both a more headbangable, and memorable flair.
The following full-length, Groovy Massacre which saw founding guitarist/vocalist Jizz Jake and his long-time compatriot, bassist/burpist Cumshot Iirot joined by Fleshpipe Mike on drums and Rob O’Cock on second guitar, eschewed much of this old school flavour in favour of a more brutal groove, constantly disrupted by the songs’ disjointed flow to both it’s advantage and detriment. The band’s likely best known song, “Analconda” showcased their most focused songwriting to date, with some catchy recurring grooves filling for hooks, whereas the title-track included a Spear-decried, rapped mid-section for the focus-drawing gimmick (though it’s hardly extra-musical) and the well placed sample between “Inhuman Savagery” and “Grindiana Jones” not only raises a grin to your lips, but also helps separate two songs that end and start on a very similar note.
Straight Outta Sewer fixed some of the cohesion issues Cumbeast had been having, in that though the songs’ flow remained disjointed the writing didn’t sound like unintended twitching. Every bit as jagged, clanging and jarring, but no more sounding like the band was constantly being interrupted by their own flow of ideas.
The sensation of sameness that served as a minor plague on the face of Groovy Massacre remained though the band sought to combat it not only with tighter songwriting but also some more novel ideas, which included recurring clean guitar passages that could be best described as faux-plastic funk riffs ripped from Bowie’s Young Americans, or late 90’s forcibly tired RHCP funk-outs, but with all the actual funk sucked out. And though that sounds all very negative, I enjoy the passages, and find that their appearance on the record helps with it’s pacing and adhesiveness.
Afterwards, Jizz Jake decided to step down from the band and the remaining trio decided to forge on without replacing him. In the interim of Straight Outta Sewer and Gore Zoo, the band decided to focus on live shows, and some of the members would release new music with their other bands, leading into a three year gap that seems to have done good for the band. Though the band has never dabbled in long songs or records, Gore Zoo is their shortest since the debut, and while the songs remain very similar, they’re never interchangeable, or become muddled. Gore Zoo is Cumbeast’s first record not to suffer from sameness to any extent.
Where previous albums would utilize drier tones, Gore Zoo’s mix is full, and especially concerning the bass, also wetter, making for a more immersive listen. While the screams, shouts and growls are still utilized, Cumshot Iirot’s sewer burps have assorted clear dominance over the vocal-grounds, which is sure to deter some, but I find myself enjoying their rhythmic grunting.
The short-ish songs tend to alternate between blasting and slower tempos in a sudden, jerking manner, at first giving them an unwieldy demeanor, but as rigid as the arrangements can seem, it doesn’t take long to lose yourself in the groove, and find that ‘neath the intentionally spasmic veil Gore Zoo has a very natural flow.
If there’s a difference to be made between breakdown and slams, and if you ask our resident Spaniard/Generalpainintheass/Musicologist/Enginerd MoshOff, there sure is, Cumbeast has always laid on the more breakdown heavy end of the scale, and though they still firmly do, some of the careful changes the band has undergone makes it sound like they would have moved half-an-inch away from their earlier stance.
The changes don’t just include the renewed line-up, tighter, more focused songwriting and a more complimentary mix, but also a greater degree of technicality and agility. Though they’re not being flaunted to the extend Iirot’s other band, the TDT-alumni Cryogenocide does, the band’s prowess on their instruments is made much clearer than it has before. The previous albums faux-plastic funk passages remain a staple, and come with a better execution this time around, actually retaining the funk they only emulated in the past, and with some jazzy swing in the performances, that I would say can to a lesser degree be heard in the arrangements and playing all around – at least if you wish really, very, truly, madly, deeply hard.
Gore Zoo is one of the best brutal death metal albums that have flown my way in quite the while, and whatever potential Cumbeast has shown before, has become fully realized here. It’s available through, either their Bandcamp site, or through Rotten Roll Rex. And while you’re at it, it would be the decent thing to do to go tell the label, and the band where they can go stick it, on Facebook as well.