Review Summary: Maintaining interest is the name of the game.
Announcing itself with an impressive combination of insane riffing and erratic drumming, ‘Harlot’ effectively introduces listeners to the unique South African deathcore outfit The Cake Is A Lie
. This introductory track is more than enough to immediately discern that this will not be your standard deathcore album. In favour of mindless chugging and useless blast beats for the duration of an album, a trait which plagues a number of this band’s contemporaries in the genre, Dark Nature
consists instead of ever-changing experimentation; a conglomeration of styles peppered with twists at every turn.
Over the course of this album, listeners are treated to an experience that never relents in its undying devotion to entertainment. Amidst all of the genre defining characteristics, demonstrated throughout Dark Nature’s
run-time, are a collection of surprising alterations between The Cake Is A Lie
and those they share the genre with. Of course, the band retain the typical deathcore elements; displays of throaty growling, breakdowns, down-tuned chugging and lightning fast drumming are all present on Dark nature
, and in high doses. It’s not always a question of content though; it’s equally a matter of how you use it. And TCIAL
certainly know how to use them. Interspersed and in coalition with the standard deathcore fare are the elements that set this band apart. New ideas spring forth periodically throughout the album, and each time an idea has been fully realised another takes its place. These transitions are always organic though; each element flows naturally into the next and builds upon the song structure rather that meandering into a different direction and ultimately losing track.
Influences stretching back to the older forms of death metal can be felt in the extended riffing of the guitars, which appears on this EP at an unusually high quantity and quality for a predominantly deathcore style band. The guitarists display some commendable talent, wielding their instruments with a technicality that is rarely found within the genre. Layered guitar tracks consisting of one guitarist performing heavily distorted rhythm duties while the other utilises high fret riffing over the top makes up the bulk of this albums guitar component. Sometimes the guitarists will fall back on a breakdown or some low, repetitive rhythms, but they generally experiment and ensure each track is different and interesting. There are occasional moments of dual riffing and interesting licks that add even more of an atmosphere to this EP, as well as a touch of sombre clean guitar passages such as the prominent section on ‘Mother Africa’, or the quiet, faded quality of the guitars part-way through the title track.
The rhythm section is quite effective, but that can mostly be attributed to the talented drummer. The drumming always appears energetic and perfectly accompanies the riffing and chugging of the guitarists, creating an extremely solid backbone. The bass guitar is unfortunately hidden quite deeply beneath the warring guitars and pounding percussion. It’s presence is definitely noticeable, especially on tracks such as ‘Ode To The Chuggernaut’, the contents of which reflects the title it has been given in certain areas and it is in those moments where the bass appears most effective. Perhaps it is the unusually experimental quality of the band that has led to a difficulty in appropriately placing the bass guitar within the mix. The bass also rears its head in the latter half of ‘Mother Africa’ for a surprise appearance that reminds you it is
still there and can definitely improve the tracks when it’s presence can be felt.
The vocals ensure a memorable experience, utilising a style that incorporates both higher shrieks and low guttural growls, both of which are familiar to the genre. The vocals are quite diverse though, which is made especially apparent for the first time on ‘My Kingdom, My Rules’ and once again on the title track when some clean vocal talent is divulged. The growling is done very well, which becomes increasingly obvious when the lows are juxtaposed with cleans on the aforementioned occasions. The production is also quite well done, it has a strange, gritty feeling to it and at the same time manages to feel very polished which works particularly well in relation to the kind of music that The Cake Is A Lie
have shaped on this album.
proves to be an extremely solid album which asserts the argument for the effectiveness of quality songwriting, especially in the hands of talented musicians.