Stream: Canker’s Earthquake Is A Deadly Portal Back In Time
Somehow, against all odds, there are still unreleased metal albums from long ago that remain unheard and are worth your time. Canker‘s Earthquake is one such release.
So unless you’re super familiar with the history of the Spanish death metal scene, or just some kind of metal savant, you’ve probably never heard Canker before either. It’s even less likely that you’d have heard of them under their previous names of Apocalypse or Post Mortem, monikers which only saw the recording of demo material before discovering a band of the same name existed in nearby Madrid. After the name change to Canker the band recorded their first full-length in 1993 with none other than Colin Richardson, to be mixed at Stockholm’s famous Sunlight Studios.
On the back of their second album the band played alongside some of the era’s biggest draws in Death, Kreator, Manowar, Dimmu Borgir, and more; something bands these forking over their hard-earned to play on a bill with 30 other local bands just to be able to say they “played with [insert B-grade mid-2000’s metalcore act here]” would sell a vital organ for. After this period the band went through some lineup changes that eventually resulted in an indefinite hiatus, despite recording a third album in 2005 titled Earthquake (which was never released). While that does indeed suck, the good news is that the band’s first two albums were recently reissued, with the third unreleased album to finally be uncovered on September 18th. Today we’re opening this time-capsule up a little early with an exclusive stream of Earthquake.
While the first couple of songs are solid fist-pumping numbers that firmly establish the thrash/death hybrid sound popularised by Sepultura and co. in the early 90’s, things take an odd turn on the third track “Hand Of God”. Here, Canker take a detour into symphonic black metal territory with some synth/organ madness that was (far too) prevalent in metal around the time of recording. This somewhat incongruous turn is thankfully a short-lived one. The album really hits its stride with “Leyla Island”, which sees the band go all out with a unique amalgamation of instruments and styles from around the world. Fusing tribal sounding percussion bursting with an undeniably Latin American feel, furious phrygian-flavoured riffing, and capping it off with accents courtesy of a didgeridoo of all things, this track accomplishes what Max Cavalera has attempted to achieve several times throughout his career with varying degrees of success. According to an intense 3 minutes of studious research on my part, the song’s title alludes to an uninhabited rocky islet in the Strait of Gibraltar that has been the center of territorial disputes between Spain, Morocco, and Portugal for at least 600 years.
From this point onwards, Earthquake feels more consolidated in terms of style; hammering out more shred-laden riffage and snappy-as-fuck drumming, with a few brief moments of respite coming in the form of some delicate acoustic guitar flourishes, and even some more well-placed bursts of didge (see “The Ghosts Of Past”). All-in-all, Earthquake offers an interesting direct link to the past, and in a time when literally every two-bit bedroom demo gets the chance to be heard by anyone game enough to click a Bandcamp or Soundcloud link, opening up time-capsules containing unreleased music of any sort is not a thing we’re going to get to do very often.