Cancer – “Shadow Gripped” (Peaceville Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Cancer Fucking Cancer!!!! Along with Carcass, Bolt Thrower and Benediction, Cancer were one of the legendary names in British death metal from the late 80s to the early 90s, supporting Obituary and Deicide, enlisting rising guitarist James Murphy (Agent Steel) into their ranks and playing the notorious Milwaukee Metalfest. However, by the mid 90s it was all over, ironically in an attempt to move to a higher level. Now, 30 years since the band were formed and following repeated calls over the years to do so, the core of John Walker on guitar/vocals, Ian Buchanan on bass and Carl Stokes on drums have finally reunited to not just play festivals in support of their first 3 albums re-releases, but issue a brand new album. “Shadow Gripped” is the band’s 6th release, and pulls no punches whatsoever! This is no nonsense British death metal straight from the 90s and intentionally so, clearly designed to woo old fans disillusioned with the band’s final output and impressive the new generations who’ve grown up hearing about this cult band. Old hands will immediately recognise the brutal, fast and occasionally thrashy signature sound as Walker’s dirty guitar and Buchanan’s heavy bass launch into ‘Ball Cutter’ as Stokes comes hammering in as the dizzy whirring riffola begins. Simple as it may be, the essence is inherent in the catchiness of the grooves and beats which Cancer know all too well, playing to their strengths gained from their vast experience and joined by Anders Nyström of Swedish deathlords Bloodbath, they deliver lethally as intended. I can’t believe just how ugly Walker’s guitar sound is on ‘The Infocidal’ as it roars in unison with Buchanan’s own bestial vocals, while the momentum of the song through excellent variations in the tempo is driven by Stokes’s powering drum work to great dramatic effect, topped off by a contrasting but still valid melodic solo – cool! For sheer pounding heaviness then ‘Half Man Half Beast’ gladly lives up to its name, visceral in every sense from Buchanan’s predatory rasps to Walker’s grim buzzsaw grooves, all kept menacing throughout thanks to the excellent time keeping of Stoke’s drums and shining through his technical percussion. A hugely impressive comeback, “Shadow Gripped” see’s this renowned trio return to full form in their past glory, adding the rich sauce for a return to the live front. Cancer Fucking Cancer – wot more can I say!!!!