After almost two years of languishing in development hell after being recorded for release on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, Lansing’s Cavalcade have finally released their second studio album “Dear Entrails…” on their Bandcamp page.
Cavalcade, on this release, is: Zachary Warren (vocals), Cale Sauter (guitar), Craig Horky (bass, backing vocals), John Bruce (drums) and Brad Van Staveren (guitar).
Here’s a review of their long overdue sophomore LP.
An album about failure never sounded so successful in its vision. The self-described “weird metal” band have been combining disparate genres like avant, jazz, sludge, doom and even traditional instruments like tuba and saxophone since at least 2006 and here, after releasing their debut album a few years ago, finally show what their twisted vision is capable of.
“Agents of Bolivian”, with a backwards guitar effect in the intro, puts Cavalcade’s sound in an angular, skewed template. Guitar solos that could fit on a modern day thrash inspired-metal record clash with tuba and glockenspiel, although the latter is minimal while the overall tempo here is sludge and doom-inspired but maybe a little bit faster.
The album was mastered by Pig Destroyer and AxCx’s Scott Hull and the results fit the band’s sound perfectly. “Bury Sanders” pulls Warren’s vocals into the middle of the mix while guitar effects and pounding drums swirl around his raspy barks. “Cancer Fantasy”, one of my favorite tracks on the album, features guest vocals from The Break Ups’ Francesca Pierce, adding a beautiful, calming effect to the guitars and vocals, which are farther back in the mix. The drums here are fast, driving and fierce; they even have quiet a groove, showing groove metal’s influence here. You can probably dance to it if you wanted to. The mastering fares well, too, on “Untie These Vines” where acoustic guitars in the intro and distorted, white noise-layered guitars later on mix perfectly. Warren’s vocals later take on a spacey effect at points and the bass is punchy yet smooth. The guitar solo is loud and clear.
This band never shies away from horror movie and gore-inspired imagery and sounds. Instrumental “Poltergeists on Motorbikes” is no exception with a zombie groaning “I want your brains!” as sounds of a man being eaten alive by the zombie play before the encounter. The band also never shies away from sheer experimentation, as on “Big Sack of Tspiders” has the most danceable groove on the album. It’s fast, cathartic and even has hand claps, as guitar tones from previous songs make their way back here.
After a few more tracks of similar sounds, vocally and otherwise (“Walk Like a Magician” and “A Lifetime of Sick”), the experimentation takes a turn on the Russian-language titled “Призрак Захария”. With acoustic guitars, brooding synths with sounds recalling “Poltergeists on Motorbikes”, the second instrumental piece gives me the vision of wandering through a 13th century village in Transylvania at night (or something like that, and hey, that’s just me).
The latter third of the album really picks up in intensity and catharsis. “Michigan Winters” has pounding, fist-pumping power chord strikes with more power provided by a tuba in the chorus. That’s my favorite part of the track. “Bolivia Tremor Control” has some of the most powerful guitars on the album. They sound brutal and drenched in death metal fuzz and crunch. Bruce’s cymbal crashes sound bright and powerful and his bass drum kicks add a heavy weight to the song.
The album’s final two tracks showcase a lot of what the album has been about up to this point: bright instruments (bells, tubas, shimmering guitars, etc) and the contrasting, brutal vocals by Warren working together and sometimes clashing (but I think sometimes that’s their point). “A Jillion Years” has a cathartic chorus as Warren belts out the title of the song in only the way he can, then after the chorus, instrumentals take charge. Ringing guitars and bells close out the song to a sort of anti-catharsis.
“Cursing in Binary”, featuring Small Brown Bike’s Mike Reed during the chorus, pulls everything the album has achieved into one song. The guitars are the most powerful they’ve been so far, the drums are powerful and the bass is heavy. The chorus is drenched in layers of guitars as Reed’s yell of “This failure feels familiar” lays across Warren’s rasps of “Cursing in Binary”. The song ends with familiar brass instrumentation heard before and the backwards guitar heard at the beginning of the album.
I said earlier this album is about failure. The band stated in an interview with The Impact 88.9 FM a long time ago that this sentiment carried over the album. “Losing all desire. Losing, losing and losing some more” go some of the lines in “Bury Sanders”. Granted, a lot of Warren’s lyrics are hard to make out due to the rasps but from what I can pick out, there’s a lot of despair here. “What if those stories were right about me? What if those tales were as true as they seemed? What if I’m hating myself in a dream and what if it’s all a lie” Warren asks amid radio-like static coating his voice. “This Michigan winter chills me to the bone,” Warren screams on the track of the same name. The failure and despair culminates on “Cursing in Binary” with the already mentioned, and audible, audible chorus of “This failure feels familiar” by Reed.
Now that this album is out, it’s finally a contender for LMTV Album of the Year. If you’re a fan of sludge bands like Down, Eyehategod or Superjoint Ritual or even experimental bands like Mr. Bungle (or any of Mike Patton’s experimental projects), check this out.