“Some acoustic guitar based songs for the Apocalyptic Death Folk elite”
I think it’s a first for here to review what is technically a compilation album. It’s nearly August, the nights are beginning to close in on the edge of perceptible change, reading for the new university year is beginning and friends are beginning to filter back into the Athens of the North (I’ve been here all along kids!), Greece is about to go bankrupt, the profession I want to ultimately join is in turmoil and nearly a hundred young innocents lie dead in morgues in one of the most peaceful nations of the world, victims of blind hatred and the Bible interpreted down the barrel of an automatic rifle by someone chillingly sanely accepting of his actions but unrepentant. Myopic media and governments leave so much to be desired that there is little to do but hunker down in a bar in a quiet neighbourhood of a city that confines all of its feckless politicking to a few city blocks and try to observe, learn from and hide from this brutish year of our lord. Because of my slowly depressing mental condition at the state of the world today, my listening has been getting heavier and I fear I may be inexorably sliding into yet another heavy period that might last till spring.
In that spirit, Cadaverous Condition. Austria’s Cadaverous Condition arose to my attention through the ether. At the beginning of this year I was listening to a lot of black metal and I came upon these guys. While competent, their regular black/European death metal side doesn’t particularly interest me; it is definitely a little too generic, especially for a genre that is used to often lavish experimentation. What did stand out, though was the lyrics. Exquisitely created and delivered by the death-rattle growls of Wolfgang Weiss. The band also show their musical promiscuity by covering songs by Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Todd Dillingham. You’ll come across something really quite original and frankly stunning no matter which Cadaverous Condition record you pick up; but Songs for the Crooked Path is your best bet to taste this bands original prank in its most sustained, concentrated form. On each of their albums, however fleetingly, black metal band Cadaverous Condition go acoustic, ‘cookie monster’ vocals intact. It becomes classically rural music after the hot urbanite sounds of their generic metal. The lyrics deal with the sort of things that come to pass in small communities, people all know each other and are intertwined in each other’s lives, not like in a city were looking at your feet is a tactic for staying alive and connections between people are rare and as easily shattered as glass. This is the music of urbanites lost in that country way. Breaking friendships, relationships, fleeting love that finds itself cemented and decaying. It is partly this unusual blend of attitudes and emotional images that makes the lyrics so invigorating.
This will probably be more of a general paragraph about growling/screaming/’cookie monster’ vocals, but it applies most thoroughly and readily to the music found on Songs for the Crooked Path because of the barrenness of the soundscape, like Paul-Thomas Anderson’s There Will be Blood, in such an arid and empty landscape, any features are extremely important. Growls aren’t easy to get into. It is a well known fact about consuming cultural products like music, films or literature that without a working knowledge of ‘how’ to understand the music, you can have a harder time getting any worth out of it. An example is art, to understand a work of art fully and completely, one has to have much background and those lacking such have to come up with different ways of connecting with the artwork (appreciating craftsmanship, “that must have taken ages to paint” et cetera; we’ve all heard someone say that) and while these observations aren’t invalid, they do fall outside of the traditional structures for understanding and therefore fully appreciating art. The same is true of heavy metal music, but because it is so abrasive, without the conceptual framework to fully enjoy growled vocals, it is all too easy to put a record right off. I can’t give you that framework in a paragraph. It would need a book and an accompanying double album to ease anyone into understanding heavy metal vocals. The way I can explain myself sufficiently is to say, we all growl, it is a method of human communication; when we’re angry or when we’ve got that special kind of hopelessness that sends us right into a rage. Some of us visit this place more than others. The sounds we make are unintelligible, sort of like humming is to singing. Growled vocals are a person expressing themselves in vocals and therefore more fully and intelligibly than we do in such moments. Growled vocals are a window into the darker side of our emotions, they allow us to hear a person going through those moments we all experience and vicariously through that we can better understand ourselves and our own anger. To see another venting anger is to better get a glimpse into ourselves, into the human condition and a more primal side of ourselves we might very well not be on speaking terms with. If I were playing armchair psychologist I’d say that the practice of moshing is a logical extension of this process. It’s a part of horror films, literature; our oldest myths and our earliest stories. All of us are constantly, collectively and individually, trying to simultaneously quell and destroy and understand our primal side; the violent animalistic responses of our proto-human selves. A savage trapped in the psyche. Throughout all art, people have been attempting to contemplate human darkness that we all embody sometimes and heavy metal that embraces screams and growls is simply a tiny offshoot of that greater quest. Cadaverous Condition might just be a great way to get into that, relieved of the extreme all-round abrasiveness and unwelcoming face of metal, and with an exceptionally powerful, emotional and clear growler in Wolfgang Weiss, every word is clear.Written under duress by Steven