Published Sep 28, 2020In the early '90s, death metal cover art was basically a buying guide: the more brutal the art, the more excited I'd be to purchase and rush home to listen to the album. If an album cover was censored or banned, that band hit the jackpot for extra sales. Cannibal Corpse were the kings of horror gore, and many bands have attempted to copy their aesthetic, with mixed results.
Enter Edmonton's Sadistic Embodiment. Taking their name from a Cannibal Corpse song, the album art for their debut album, Blood Spell, resembles more of a medieval torture device than the blood-and-gore majesty that the album's bludgeoning riffage underscores. The painting's figure (a bruised body in tatters, with a hungry raven pecking at his exposed leg) is central to an unnamed 18th century colonial punishment, though the music is anything but old-school death metal — and definitely nowhere near Cannibal Corpse.
Album opener "Stranger" begins with black metal blast beats à la Dark Tranquillity, but the tempo shifts into more melodic Kataklysm territory with guitarist Wally Fischer's tasteful solos. The scorching "Suicide Ceremony" weaves dense tapestries of despair as drummer Bryan Newbury leads the band through desiccated forests at breakneck speed. His extreme technical prowess places Sadistic Embodiment at the forefront of Canadian death metal, much like Cryptopsy and Gorguts.
With the departure of founding vocalist Nate Mandrusiak, the band decided to divide the work between three throats: Fischer, bassist Curtis Vieville, and rhythm guitarist Jason Cullen. The vocals on "Gallows Hill" resemble a cross between Lamb of God's Randy Blythe and Gorefest's Jan-Chris de Koeijer, while "Catherine's Braid" follows the more traditional death metal of Deicide's Glen Benton or Immolation's Ross Dolan.
"Nebulae (Call of the Void)" is a short instrumental that smacks of old Morgoth, but the Aborted-esque "Flesh Disposition" distills every facet of the band's sound: death-doom, melodic leads, and weighty yet venomous chords sodden with disdain for our modern, diseased world. Sadistic Embodiment have sculpted a dire vision, and Blood Spell captures their love for multi-layered death metal. (CDN)