Review Summary: While there are glimpses of potential, Waking The Cadaver's latest album falls victim to the usual brotasticism that plagues their discography
Without trying to sound cliché, Waking The Cadaver are a band that need absolutely no introduction. While that would usually count as a compliment, this New Jersey quintet’s reputation precedes them to such an alarmingly negative degree that they’re practically reduced to musical punching bags. Yes, this is entirely self-inflicted on account of how atrocious their earlier material was, but the backlash they’ve continued to receive is vastly out of proportion to whatever artistic crimes they’re committing now. For their previous effort Beyond Cops, Beyond God
– which was a night and day improvement over their debut – to be subject to such a scathing reception, you’d think these guys had walked into a church and punched out someone’s sainted mother. While their latest album is poor, what little merit it has will be completely disregarded by virtue of it being adorned with arguably the most ridiculed name in extreme metal today.
The hilariously titled Real Life Death
is a continuation of the sound Waking The Cadaver explored on their previous album, further stripping back the deathcore elements of the debut and opting for a slam death approach. The album begins aggressively with a flurry of blasts and indecipherable pig-squeals, but Don Campan soon clears his throat and the band manage to find a rhythm for long enough to craft an album that isn’t totally deplorable. The guitar work is the most redeeming attribute, but even then, the infrequent riffs of interest are more than outweighed by mundane chugging and half assed slams. The drumming is basically a non-factor, providing an obligatory rhythmic backdrop but not producing anything of interest. Such a criticism is a tad ironic given that Waking The Cadaver’s drumming was once notable in that it was so laughably off-time, but “uninteresting” still beats out “incompetent” in this case. Don Campan is still a major weak link, effectively ruining any chance the band had at being taken seriously with his dreadful vocal performance. The pig squeals that made the debut and their demo material so cringe worthy are used with relative infrequency, but the substituting “growls” only fare marginally better. In addition to sounding particularly not brutal, his vocal delivery gives the impression of somebody having the Heimlich manoeuvre performed on them.
The biggest problem with the album isn’t Campan’s vocals though, it’s the attitude taken towards the song-writing and overall presentation. After indeterminate periods of blasts and chugging, every song eventually delves a section of slower chugs accompanied by Campan’s bree-bree bu
ll***. As a result, the songs come across as incredibly lazy and the band gives the impression of trying too hard to be taken seriously while refusing the drop the brutality charade. This is exemplified most vividly in “Money Power Death”, where the band begins by reeling off a number of decent riffs, but failing to maintain a sense of direction as one motif interrupts another and do nothing to progress the track or build tension. Before you know it, we’re greeted by what sounds like a bunch of pubescent children chanting “MONEY! POWER! DEATH!” It’s clear that the initial flurry of aimless riffery on each track is simply there to fill the runtime, before the obligatory breakdown rolls along and any semblance of integrity is discarded. Just like its predecessor, the album’s brevity is its main saving grace, clocking in at a mere 28 minutes. As such you don’t have to endure this for any longer than it would take to watch a primetime sitcom episode, but it also reflects pretty poorly upon the band when there is so much filler on an album that could have passed as a lengthy EP.
The album does serve its purpose; to be a collection of anthems for your everyday bro, and it’s far from the worst album of all time which is what it will inevitably be touted as. Nevertheless, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the album – and the band for that matter – is little more than a gimmick. Waking The Cadaver do
have the potential to craft a competent album, but this insistence on being as “brutal” as possible continues to be an impenetrable roadblock in the band’s mission to be seen as a respectable act.