Cauldron Black Ram – Slaver


The metal underground is buzzing with the name 20 Buck Spin. For the first time since the emergence of Relapse Records at the turn of the century, a new label is fast becoming the benchmark for extreme metal. Tomb Mold, Immortal Bird and Khemmis are just three of their bands shaping the future, and now we can add a fourth with Australia’s Cauldron Black Ram.

If you thought nothing could surpass the evil of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or the sinister darkness of My Dying Bride’s As The Flower Withers, then, think again. Cauldron Black Ram are the nastiest and most bastardised creation from Satan’s spunk you will hear all year. Call it death-doom, old school death metal, extreme metal – whatever. Slaver is a pernicious beast coated in the odour of charnel house bones.

This reviewer will be the first to admit he rolled his eyes when he saw the press release. Great, their fifth album and another death-doom plodder to struggle through. Yet the results are the complete opposite. Not one song on this album is a chore; nothing is predictable. This is both extreme and unpredictable. Take standout track, ‘Stones Break Stones’, for example. The drummer seems to throw in casual downbeats on every fourth note and the guitars tease you into a tremolo-picking breakout only to hold back with chunky riffing. The vocals on opener ‘Flame’ are as evil as David Vincent, yet it takes a two-minute detour of savage death metal beats and 1970s guitar work before we hear the vitriolic voice. ‘Graves Awaiting Corpses’ is just as fresh: here we get a modern interpretation of Venom through numerous modulations and a bass breakdown at 1.30 seconds. At this point you’re right to ask if the guitars will ever stay in orthodox timing. 

Why are more death metal bands not producing to this standard? ‘Temples of Death’ and ‘Slaver’ are what Ulcerate would sound like if they followed through on their vision. How can you have a rock swagger with music as barbaric as this? The questions continue to pile up. Have they taken a Hieronymus Bosch painting as their inspiration? Is the chord progression on ‘His Appearance’ a homage to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or a nod to Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’? Those looking for something as raw as black metal yet as heavy as Deicide are in for a treat.

Extreme music hasn’t sounded this malevolent since the Peaceville years of the early 90s when Paradise Lost and Autopsy were putting out genre-defining classics on England’s finest label. The parallels are a good omen if 20 Buck Spin continue their current trajectory of finding bands as vital as this. Make no mistake: Slaver deserves to stand as a masterpiece of its time and take its place next to the legendary Carcass opus, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious

SBR promise an interview or feature article with this band in the future, if only to find out what type of people are capable of such sinister darkness! Deathspell Omega have a new challenger.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/05/2020

Record Label: 20 Buck Spin

Standout tracks: Stones Break Stones, Graves Awaiting Corpses, Temples to Death

Suggested Further Listening: My Dying Bride – As The Flower Withers (1992), Celtic Frost – Monotheist (2006), Autopsy – Mental Funeral (1991)