Released: 2014, Cyclone Empire
In the late 80’s, the death metal scene was starting to grow in the US and in Europe. From England we got some great bands like Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, and Cancer. Formed in 1987 in Telford, Cancer would go on to release 3 of the greatest and most influential death metal records of all time, TO THE GORY END (1990), DEATH SHALL RISE (1991), and THE SINS OF MANKIND (1993). Sadly, these classics have long been out of print and many of the younger metalheads are not familiar with the legendary Cancer. Cyclone Empire to the rescue! The German label has worked with Cancer to remaster and re-release these albums in August 2014. Who’s ready for some old school brutal shit?!?
In 1993 after the underground success of TO THE GORY END and DEATH SHALL RISE, Cancer wanted to try a different approach for their third album. Rather than record at Morrisound again with Scott Burns, Cancer chose to record in the UK at the Windings in Wrexham and have Simon Efemey produce. The result was their most musically advanced album at the time, THE SINS OF MANKIND. The album is thrashier with more complex rhythms than its predecessors but make no mistake, this is a Cancer album! The nasty guitar crunch, catchy choruses, and John Walker’s ghoulish voice are still present!
The album features a lot of different tempos and moods. Things kick off with the brilliant “Cloak of Darkness” which chugs along with great riffs and drumming. The song builds into a frenzy as we get to the chorus (DESTROY THE WEAK, SHATTER THE MEEK, LET YOUR MIND DECIDE!) and then we climb back down! “Electro-Convulsive Therapy” is mostly a scorcher with some great solos – I like the guitar duo of Barry Savage / John Walker actually better than James Murphy / John Walker from DEATH SHALL RISE. Barry’s style just seemed to fit the band better. “Patchwork Destiny” has a great slam / breakdown that will instantly get you headbanging once you hear it! Things slow down for the creepy “Meat Train” (CARRIAGE OF CARNAGE!) before the mid paced, almost anthemy “Suffer for Our Sins” kicks in. Then we get a bit of acoustic guitar for “Pasture of Delights” before it turns into the death / thrash mayhem of “At the End”. The album ends with the 2 part song “Tribal Bloodshed”. First, we get “The Conquest”, a furious assault of blistering riffs, hammering drums, and angry vox describing an uprising. “Under The Flag” begins quietly as the smoke clears from the destruction of “The Conquest”. Some nifty riffing builds into a mid paced grind as John’s vocals take a mournful feel, describing the plight of the defeated masses. It’s quite moving and powerful and these last two tracks are my favorites on the album. Overall, the album isn’t as heavy as TO THE GORY END or DEATH SHALL RISE, but the musicianship is superior. John’s voice is still a death metal growl, but it isn’t as deep or as creepy here as on the first 2 albums. The guitar and bass work is superb and Carl Stokes’ drumming is as powerful as ever.
This is a remaster, so all of the songs sound the same as before, just louder and sharper. Artwork has been faithfully restored; lyrics are included with some vintage pics and new liner notes. Bonus tracks include demos of “Cloak of Darkness” and “Electro-Convulsive Therapy”, this is cool is you like to see how the songs evolved.
Highly recommended for fans of death and thrash metal. The album holds up wonderfully 21 years after its release.