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?!?
TO THE GORY END introduced the metal community to Cancer in 1990. Let’s start with the awesome album cover – a guy with a machete cutting through his head! This cover was inspired by a scene in the 1978 film DAWN OF THE DEAD and it was drawn by Cancer’s drummer Carl Stokes, how cool is that?!? Unfortunately due to fucking censorship, the album cover has been altered a bit so that the machete can’t be fully seen and the carnage isn’t as nasty. Now for the music itself – The songs are raw, ugly, stripped down death metal with catchy riffs and choruses and memorable sick lyrics! John Walker’s ghoulish growl is almost whispered (SLICING THROUGH YOUR THROAT / HACKING AT YOUR FACE!) and is just damn creepy, perfect! There aren’t any other death metal vocalists that sound like him. Carl’s drumming is impressive and a bit different for a death metal band, it isn’t blazing fast with blast beats but it is very precise and powerful. Check out his intro for “Blood Bath” and his fills on “Into the Acid”, great stuff. Bassist Ian Buchanan delivers a great tone throughout the album. The first track “Blood Bath” inspired so many bands, the Swedish death metal super group Bloodbath named themselves after it! Once you hear the riff for “Into the Acid”, it’s burned into the brain for life! Other standouts include the best death metal anthem of all time, “Cancer Fucking Cancer”, title track “To the Gory End”, and “Die Die” which features one of the sickest choruses ever (PULLING ENTRAILS FROM YOUR BLEEDING CARCASS IN HELL!) and Obituary’s John Tardy on backing vocals. There’s no filler here, all of the songs are killer. What an incredible debut! We also get 2 bonus tracks from their 1989 demo, “Our Fate” and “Revenged”. Sound quality is good for a demo and the songs are enjoyable.
I have a few comments on the remastering, since I own a copy of the original album. The sound quality for “Cancer Fucking Cancer” is not up to the quality of the other tracks as it is much quieter and the drums sound enhanced. Some tracks sound like they have been mixed differently; I think the vocals on “Blood Bath” and “Into the Acid” are louder and the guitars and drums are quieter than on the original mix. Outside of these minor quibbles and the album cover change, the production is good quality as the remaining songs sound the same as before but louder. The CD booklet contains full lyrics and new liner notes from the band, which are a fun read.
This is the perfect introduction to the band Cancer, so any extreme metal fan not familiar with the band should pick up a slice of death metal history from Cyclone Empire before the copies are gone. If you used to own the album and don’t have it anymore, now is your chance to get a remastered copy! Cancer lives man! Cancer Fucking Cancer!