Wailing at the Throne of Chaos: A Review of the Chemical Cascades Demo
Sometimes we here at the Toilet get emails from bands looking for us to do a review of their tunes. Some of these groups have been awesome; others, not so much. Thankfully, Papa Joe received an email from a delightful troupe of Aussies by the name of Chemical Cascades, a black metal band with a sound as unsettling yet simultaneously rocking as Bozlinger’s drunk posts. I’m pleased to bring you this review of Chemical Cascades’ debut demo.
Right off the bat the band invites you into their occult ceremonies with the weirdo, inhuman chanting in “Noetic Contempt.” This short intro track merely sets the stage for what’s about to be unleashed though, and CC soon dive full bore into some rough, dirty, and mystifying black metal. Full disclosure: three years ago I would have hated this, but today I honestly keep finding myself listening to this short incantation of the inhuman glory.
This band is doing a lot of things right. First, the guitar-work by Gustaf Davidson and L. Trevarthen is spot-on, ranging from furious tremolo bursts in “Ad Astra” to visceral, buzzsaw shredding riffs in “Surface” to some interestingly thrashy segments in “Cosmic Winter.” The guitarists in Chemical Cascades know how to write some killer riffs, and no amount of fuzz can hold the fretwork down. In fact, I’d go so far to compare the guitar work and drumming in “Cosmic Winter” to something a more necro version of Death would have written during the Symbolic sessions. This raises the intriguing observation that this band is able to tie in a number of disparate threads from other subgenres to keep this dense knot intricate and foreboding.
The drums on this album are also top-shelf. There are a number of interesting rolls and tempo shifts on all the songs, with the band sometimes veering between blast beats and d-beats with the occasional expedition into thrash territory. It’s an interesting dynamic, but I dare you not to start headbanging at the 3:05 mark in “Surface.” The production doesn’t always make it easy to hear what the drummer is doing, but the blasts and cave-man hammerings are always enthralling throughout.
Speaking of engaging, I haven’t even mentioned the vocals yet. We’re trying not to displease great Cthulhu by taking his name in vain, but the distant, maddening echoes emitted by vocalist Gus Watson can be aptly described as something you might hear wailing deep in the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka. The lyrics are completely indiscernible, but that really doesn’t matter when Sleipnir’s banshee shrieks crescendo over Mike D’s furious skin-pummeling. The vocals themselves are a force, and they perfectly suit the maddening tone of these compositions.
Overall, there is a lot this band is doing right. However, I do have a few tiny complaints. I really can’t hear any audible bass, and I think a bit of low-end rumble could add an even more cataclysmic menace to the band’s mix. Speaking of the production, although I certainly don’t hate the super-lo-fi style here, I think a little more clarity could definitely bring some of the band’s inhuman vitriol to the fore. Lastly, this demo is a bit short for my taste. I think a full-length would definitely enable this band to stretch their legs a little and incorporate even more elements into their already potent mix. All in all, though, I dig this album, and I look forward to a full length release.
You can download the band’s demo for free here.
(Editor’s Note: Vocals on this review were previously attributed to Tasmanian Sleipnir when they were in fact performed by Gus Watson. I apologize for the error. -Joe)