Cephalic Carnage - Xenosapien
Relapse Records
Technical Death/Grind
12 songs (44:12)
Release year: 2007
Cephalic Carnage, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat

Album number five from the Colorado-based weed-loving Death/Grind machine that is Cephalic Carnage is something of a departure from the band’s nutty norm. Of course, there’s as much skilfully applied Jazz in the mix as ever, yet for the first time the album seems to have been written around this rather than basing it on the Grind foundation that has produced the beautiful Carnage so far. Fear not, the brutality is still paramount, and fans bought aboard by 2005’s excellent Anomalies will find Xenosapien just as good if not better, but if you really dislike the more freeform acts amongst the Relapse roster then you may just have a problem with this slight step towards what some might call ‘spazzcore’; the rest of us will be more than happy with Xenosapien, showing the band at its most experimental yet.

That experimental mindset produces some frankly stunning music, such as the moment when the violins that open Endless Cycle Of Violence morph into a Gordian Knotty melody before brutal riffs burst forth, technical drumplay and subatomic growls flowing over some wonderfully technical Death Metal. Another example is the rollercoaster riffing of Divination And Violation that soon enough changes into what sounds like Cynic jamming with Suffocation, before switching again, slowing the pace… it goes on and on, and if you’re the sort that likes your ears crushed in a very technical manner, then you’ll die with a smile on your face.

One major downside to this technicality is that it’s going to take a lot of listens before you can truly appreciate the music, although there are plenty of headbang-necksnap moments that make up for it. The unexpected Black Metal at the start of Touched By An Angel is pure Impaled Nazarene, whilst Heptarchy (In The UK) surprises by being about as far from the expected Punk as you can get, and may just be the most mind-bendingly technical song on the album, complete with group chants and an epic, near-national anthem central riff. If there’s a personal highlight, it’s the incredible G.lobal O.verhaul D.evice, which takes the band’s Doomy experimentation to its most traditional extreme yet with clean vocals that will leave many a True Doom wailer looking nervous, before crashing back into the sludge.

Many will be comparing Xenosapien to previous effort Anomalies, and trying to decide if it’s a better album or not. It’s certainly more varied, and given the time that it deserves may well climb higher, but like any band with such a strong back catalogue, much is demanded of a new Cephalic emission. It’s a shame if this album suffers for it, as it’s a very strong effort with clear evidence of progression in the band’s sound. Don’t treat it like background music, but actually give it serious attention, and this strange simian will be bouncing about on your playlist for a long time to come.

Killing Songs :
Endless Cycle Of Violence, Touched By An Angel, Heptarchy (In The UK), G.lobal O.verhaul D.evice, Ov Vicissitude
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Cephalic Carnage that we have reviewed:
Cephalic Carnage - Misled By Certainty reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Cephalic Carnage - Lucid Interval reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Cephalic Carnage - Anomalies reviewed by Aaron and quoted 94 / 100
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