Review Summary: SLICE THE MOTHERFUCKING CAKE
Slice the Cake must love irony; they’ve chosen a ludicrously silly moniker to represent their take on deathcore: a genre well-associated with low intelligence and romanticized machismo. Ironic too, that Slice the Cake manage to shine through a genre bathed in negative light with some unique effervescence. I would not exactly describe The Man With No Face
as a beacon of light amongst the dregs of a deathcore, but it definitely shows flickers of brightness.
Slice the Cake’s interpretation of deathcore isn’t profoundly original, but it is well-executed and different enough to be noticeable. There are archetypical techniques employed, such as chugging down-tuned guitars, gratuitous and violent drumming, and the odd half-time breakdown, but they are merely there to serve as a template. Often times, Slice the Cake inject atmosphere into their compositions through the use of piano and keyboard effects. This is especially present in the latter half of the album, where orchestral interludes are often utilized to string together passages of mid tempo deathcore. These orchestral elements are very well done, and are a welcomed break from the tiresome brutality.
If anything, The Man With No Face
is an adventurous listen. After the brief ambient/piano intro, the album begin with a jackhammering two-minute burst of violence penned “Rational Thinking, Logical Future,” and the equally satisfying “City of Ghosts.” Both are very solid deathcore tracks steeped in a dense fluid of production. After these tracks however, Slice the Cake’s song writing becomes much more ambitious. Beginning with the five and a half minute “Time Unwinding”, each ensuing track eclipses five minutes in length, with the title-track at a daunting 22 minutes in length. Cumulatively, The Man With No Face
stretches to well beyond 65 minutes in length. For an album to merit such a massive run-time, the material must be varied and cohesive enough to hold the listener’s attention. Is The Man With No Face
deserving of its length?
The blunt answer would be no, a deathcore album has no means being so goddamned long. The Man With No Face
seems to get lost in its own ambition after its furious opening, as it moseys further into vapid oblivion than it should have. Some may categorize such length and structural leniency as being “progressive”, but the great length here is mostly unnecessary and frankly, a little tiresome. This is especially apparent in the marathon title track. There are moments of intrigue: 11 minutes into the song there is a brief blues guitar motif introduced which soon proves to become support to a flamenco-style acoustic solo. Unfortunately, this moment is sandwiched between two largely unmemorable ten-minute chunks. There’s nothing offensively bad present, it’s just very apparent that the band carved up a piece of pastry which was way too large to be devoured in one serving.
This proves to be the album’s main downfall. While Slice the Cake can be applauded for their ambition, most of the songs present here really don’t merit a six minute runtime. Other than the album highlight “Of Gallows”, an eight-minute track that marries symphonic and death metal elements together in a way that brings Mirrorthrone to mind, and perhaps “Promethean,” which features the album’s most interesting and dynamic riffwork bookended by a few dreary piano cadenzas, the majority of the tracks are ultimately unmemorable. There are a few noteworthy moments, such as the aforementioned guitar interlude halfway through the title track, as well as the rumbling distorted bass intro to “The Chasm”, but they are surrounded by a relatively unchanging assault of mid-tempo deathcore. While the instrumentation is varied well within each song, none of the songs really do much by themselves to stand out. After “City of Ghosts”, each song can be expected to run six minutes in length, consist largely of mid-tempo guitar riffs and double-time drumming, and have some kind of orchestral element to serve as breathing room. A song like “As Written in Pnakotus” or “Equilibrium” doesn’t cover any ground that wasn’t already covered in “Time Unwinding” earlier in the album.
Ultimately though, The Man With No Face
is a very solid debut with a few growing pains. Slice the Cake easily could have cut 20 minutes of material from this pie without it losing any of its flavor. The band is tight instrumentally, and Gareth Edwards gives a solid and varied vocal performance (though his cleans are somewhat nasally), but their overall performance isn’t flashy or interesting enough to warrant such weight. The Man With No Face
is at worst inoffensive and forgettable, but at best a solid and gripping deathcore record.
Check out: “Rational Thinking, Logical Future”, “City of Ghosts”, “Of Gallows”, “Promethean”