Reviewed: September 2020
Released: 2020, CDN Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
When a band takes its name from a Cannibal Corpse song, I guess you kind figure they are going to end up sounding a bit, well, Cannibal Corpse-y. So it might come as a bit of a surprise that while steeped in death metal, Canada’s Sadistic Embodiment really don’t resemble Cannibal at all – and good on ’em for that.
They certainly are not gore-obsessed ghouls – well, at least for the most part – and they come from a different place musically than the technically adept, chug-and-blast brutality Cannibal has been doling out for 30-some years now. The band’s tag-team vocal attack that includes three of the four members is a far cry from George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s relentless grizzly bear roar.
So now that we’ve established what Sadistic Embodiment are not let’s take a peek at what the Alberta-based quartet are all about on this their first full-length after three earlier EPs. The groovy, melodically inclined bluster on Blood Spell is actually more reminiscent of their countrymen to the east, Kataklysm, or the more recent work of Carcass, than anything else.
The album weaves back and forth between thrash and full-on death metal, with surging hooks aplenty and a good deal of genuine catchiness – especially over the album’s front half – topped by the bark, growls and shrieks of bassist Curtis Vieville and guitarists Wally Fischer and Jason Cullen. Some black metally trems make fleeting appearances, as well, notably to open the album on “Stranger” and later on “Global Enema” and provide some additional accent, depth and contrast to the beefy grooves that are so prominent here.
The elegant lead guitar work of Fischer is quite superb good here, particularly when harmonizing with Cullen, bringing a bit of Maiden-esque flair to that table and generally classing things up, especially toward the end on the more pedestrian “Flesh Deposition” and “Cerebral Termination.” Yet while they close things with a bit of a thud, Blood Spell up to that point is a meaty, satisfying effort that deftly blends melody, muscle, velocity and grit – and nicely avoids taking the expected course.