Cephalic Carnage - Lucid Interval
Relapse Records
Technical Death/Grind
14 songs (57:30)
Release year: 2002
Cephalic Carnage, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Although the hydrogrinding weed-machine that is Cephalic Carnage is best known for more recent albums, it’s wrong to forget that the band were pretty darn good prior to Anomalies. I’ve always preferred Lucid Interval to the more humorous and amateurish Conforming To Abnormality, not least because the former contains one of the band’s best ever songs. It’s also where the band’s songwriting and experimental impulses came to full fruition, making for an album that will force your face into the grindstone will little mercy, but leaving room to notice the leftfield technicality of it all as you go down.

First and foremost, Lucid Interval is endlessly entertaining. The approach to intros alone is worth noting, Scolopendia Cingulata fading in with a simple drumbeat and sludge-hewn riffs before switching suddenly to the light-speed intensity of Fortuitous Oddity, a mindbogglingly complex mix of riffs and vocals that lasts less than a minute yet serves to get you pumped up beyond belief for the album proper. This soon follows with the catchy intro riffs to the six-minute Anthro-Emesis, a maelstrom of progressive-minded grindcore that constantly shifts position but never stops you headbanging. When I brought this album a few years back it took me several weeks to get around to looking at the lyric sheet, only to discover a foul-mouthed tirade about ancient Rome that’s incomprehensible from vocalist Lenzig’s grunts and snarls but which makes for fascinating reading, assuming that it’s all true.

Cephalic Carnage at their best sound like a sludged-up Cryptopsy with a clear sense of humour apparent in the songwriting as well as the lyrics, and little blasts like The Isle Of California are evidence of this as much as longer tracks. Pseudo, a five minute-plus burst of noodling, would be an endurance test in any other band’s hands, but here the band are careful to mix it up enough to make for a song that retains elements of catchiness even as it spins your head with its deranged structure and dips into early Isis-esque ambience. It’s hard not to impress on you just how technical the music is – The Dillinger Escape Plan meets old Carcass barely does it justice, but you get the idea.

Lucid Interval flows well and has plenty of highlights, but a few deserve special mention. Rebellion is nicely tech-death, but it’s the following Black Metal Sabbath that I was referring to before as one of the band’s best songs. As you’d expect, it’s a gnarly mixture of old-school Black Metal and Sabbathian Doom, kicking off with blastbeats and scuzzy walls of riffs that sound as if they’ve crawled out of a grave. The intensity mounts with a tech-grindy riff that fades into feedback before returning in sludge form to kick out the jams in true Cathedral style – well, apart from the growling. It’s a truly kickass song, however, that shows just what open-minded Metal bands are capable of when their own sounds are unique enough to experiment with genres, and alone would be more than enough to put Cephalic Carnage at the head of the experimental grind bands. Of course, just as you’re finishing marvelling at this, the band throw in the cheeky acoustic interlude Cannabism, defusing intensity and tension with a humorous breather before the technical pulverisation of the title track.

It’s the little touches like this, ultimately, which help make this album such a delight. Fine, so I could do without the tiresome twenty-minute Arsonist Saviour with its long, irritating stretch of silence but the moments when the band shift towards pure jazz and elsewhere suddenly turn into Candlemass will put many a grin on listeners’ faces, and it’s the naturalness of Cephalic Carnage’s shifts that ultimately win the day for them. Some bands sound ridiculous when they try to change genres rapidly (especially those noted for their momentary interests in bear-wrestling) but Cephalic Carnage do it so damn well that Lucid Interval is made even better and catchier as a result. It may not be a perfect album but it’s little short of excellent, and deserves a space on every grinder’s shelf.

Killing Songs :
Anthro-Emesis, The Isle Of California, Pseudo, Rebellion, Black Metal Sabbath, Lucid Interval
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Cephalic Carnage that we have reviewed:
Cephalic Carnage - Misled By Certainty reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Cephalic Carnage - Xenosapien reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Cephalic Carnage - Anomalies reviewed by Aaron and quoted 94 / 100
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