First post of November. Arguably the darkest month in my eyes. Death and crisp air all round. So now that we’ve (at least from a weather standpoint) moved into winter, it’s time for an assessment of the fickle autumn that Ohio was handed by the heavens. It wasn’t all that festive – no trip to the Pumpkin show, no hikes through the foliage, no sepulcher-scent to marvel in, and no annual trek to New Carlisle’s Headquarters for all things illicit. However, trudging down the rabbit hole for more metal has been a habit. It always is in November, re-visiting, discovering, indulging in the most extreme metal of my youth and beyond. Rummaging through the Elliott Museum in Troy, I made a brilliant find – a cassette copy of Cancer – Death Shall Rise – significant for many reasons.
First, because this was one of my first purchases at the now legendary Headquarters, and there would be many more where that came from (still can’t find my long-sleeved Cannibal Corpse shirt). Funny though because I travelled all that way to buy a $13 cassette, only to drag it home and find the recording on the tape not Cancer, it was an early Dead Milkmen album. Even funnier because I dragged the tape all the way back to the store and got both a working Cancer cassette and Dead Milkmen’s Big Lizard in My Backyard, quite a clash of aesthetes.
Over the last few autumnal metal feasts I’ve participated in, I think I’ve drunk the death well dry – I’ve still got the go-to albums from Deicide, Obituary, and Sepultura, but there’s not much else in the vault that needs recovering. That is until I found Cancer again. They were a British trio that vanguished in obscurity until they decided to travel to the death-metal epicenter of Tampa, Florida to record their second album. It was there that they stumbled into a convergence of powers unlike any other in the death-metal cannon. Death Shall Rise was recorded at the world-famous Morrisound Studios and the production and engineering was helmed by equally legendary Scott Burns (his track record is proven). In America they recruited virtuoso James Murphy (Death, Obituary) as their lead guitarist. All the symbols of evil aligned to create one of the bleakest and loud metal albums of the era. To top it off, the single,"Hung, Drawn, and Quartered" is complete with background vocals by none other than Glen Benton of Deicide. Something you'll notice about the song is the melodic underbelly that wants to escape from the group's cadence but is held under in squeal and thunder. Cancer also had a knack for simple yet effective song titles, "Tasteless Incest," "Burning Casket," and my personal favorite "Corpse Fire." Coupled with the swarming guitar churn, the imagery they evoke this time of year is immpeccable. It's not all glorious as the first track, but it maintains the punishment long enough to keep this in the classix pile.