Though I’ve been a fan of Master and Death Strike for ages, I must begrudgingly admit that it was a long time before I dug much further into the Chicago scene, and in not digging deeper for far too long, I inadvertently overlooked these particular brutes. For all those years, Cianide’s name was one I’d heard, long before I actually spun one of their records. It was MetalReview’s own Michael Wuensch’s positive review of the 2009 reissue of 1997’s literally titled Death, Doom And Destruction that tipped the scales, that piqued my interest past the point of no return, and it was last year’s Gods Of Death that hammered home the simple joy of Cianide’s primal and primitive doom-infused death metal. And in short, after belatedly exploring this two-decade career of ugliness, I’m sorry I was late to the party.
The Dying Truth is Cianide’s debut, originally released in 1992 and now re-issued by Deathgasm with additional bonus material in the form of 1990’s Funeral and 1991’s Second Life demos. This expanded edition shows the band at their most basic, and that’s saying something, since Cianide has never been technical or progressive in the slightest. The Dying Truth is rudimentary in execution yet effective in the end, with doomed-down Hellhammer riffs atop simple drumbeats, the both of them nestled beneath bassist Mike Perun’s blast-furnace bellow. In their blending of filthy bare-bones death and crawling doom, Cianide is perhaps most comparable to Autopsy, with a dash of Bolt Thrower’s patent bulldozer drive. Though they don’t quite achieve either band’s level of mastery over all things ugly, vile and crushing, this trio’s take on trudging death / doom remains filthy and sloppy and damn good fun.
Aside from a generally louder mastering job, most of this version of The Dying Truth sounds like the original, except that the tracks are in a different order. The guitars are still fuzzy and thick blobs of downtuned distortion; the drums are roomy, the snare cracking; the whole thing very rough and live. Perun’s vocals stick to a low guttural, all one tone and straight from the depths of his very being, never deviating from that Bolt Thrower-esque grunt. Most of the riffs are chugging and chunky, with almost no leads or melodies – a few moments break out (the short melody in “The Suffering,” the squalling solo in ) The Truth’s eight tunes tend toward trudging, reliant more heavily upon the doom tempos than later Cianide efforts, which upped the overall skill level above Truth’s minimalist metal.
The demo material is expectedly more roughshod than the album – the Funeral material is thin, thrashy, with trebly guitars and tin-can drums, the vocals rough atop the mix. The bare-bones riffs are there, the songs not far removed from the later versions save the reduced production values. (Six of the eight demo tunes included here were re-recorded for the final version of The Dying Truth.) Still, as a portrait of a band’s beginnings, Funeral is an interesting snapshot, but it won’t be anyone’s favorite part of Cianide’s catalog by a long-shot, even as it features rare forays into a midrange growl and away from the singular vocal attack of later efforts. The Second Life tunes fare better sonically, almost to the (admittedly still muddy) production level of Truth itself – the drums are a bit drier, thinner, higher in the mix, but overall, Second Life betters Funeral’s ramshackle attack.
Though it’s roughshod and ugly in either of its original and reissue incarnations, The Dying Truth’s beauty lies in that filth and rawness. The original version of Truth is difficult to find, with copies on eBay reaching $150 for a CD, so this reissue is most welcome for collectors of the good ol’ days of death, and though the bonus material may be largely a one-listen affair, it’s there and it’s free and it further shows the growth of the band. Somewhere between The Dying Truth and Death, Doom And Destruction, Cianide got better, tighter; the songs improved; the production got more professional – so those new to the group should likely start with later efforts, since those records simply sound better and hit harder. Nevertheless, The Dying Truth is a solid debut from a band that doesn’t get enough credit, and I’m glad to see it come back around in an affordable form, with some extra tracks to boot.