I hope you like Deceased, and for two reasons. The most important is simply because Deceased rules. I’ve said before, many times, but one more won’t hurt: They’re one of extreme metal’s most fun bands. And the second reason is because, if you’re listening to Cadaver Traditions, then you’d better like Deceased. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a long two and a half hours for you…
Fifty-three songs over two discs, Cadaver Traditions compiles the previously released Zombie Hymns and Rotten To The Core albums (originally released in 2002 and 2004 respectively), plus seventeen new tunes, all but two of which are also covers. Those previous efforts were separated into one disc of classic metal covers and one of classic hardcore covers, and both were entertaining, if neither was as essential as Deceased’s original material. As Cadaver Traditions is a greatly expanded version of those, the same holds true, except now it comes with 33% more.
Where Cadaver Traditions fully upholds Deceased’s legacy is in its unabashed enthusiasm. These songs were clearly chosen because King Fowley and his cast of madmen love them all, and the raucous abandon with which they rip through them gives each a wonderfully chaotic spirit. Sure, King Fowley is no King Diamond on “Nuns Have No Fun,” but who cares if the high notes aren’t as polished, or if the melody on “2 Minutes To Midnight” is more growl than soar? This isn’t a collection of covers for the muso to dissect or for the more-critical-than-thou to overthink – this is a collection of covers for the punters in the pit, with fists held high, singing along to every word in “Doomed By The Living Dead,” or in “Voivod,” or in “Stay Clean,” “Chemical Warfare,” or “The KKK Took My Baby Away.”
Of course, it helps that the guys in Deceased clearly have great taste; even if never listened to, Cadaver Traditions can be looked at as a primer for anyone interested in exploring the classics. In Fowley’s world, where we’re all lucky to live from time to time, the Ramones and Metal Church fit perfectly side by side; Suicidal Tendencies rocks with Agent Steel, and the Cro-Mags with Krokus. Most of these tunes will (should) be familiar: There’s the world’s 3,982nd cover of “Black Metal,” plus another Venom track in “Die Hard”; there’s two Mercyful Fates, both excellent, and two D.R.I.s, also excellent. And there are some obscurities, as well – British thrashers Xentrix sneak in “No Compromise”; underrated American outfit Znowhite contributes “Do Or Die.” Even the My Bloody Valentine soundtrack gets a nod, with the lilting “The Ballad Of Henry Warden,” which is one of only a handful of tunes here that I’ve managed not to ever hear before. If that’s not enough, there’s also two of Deceased’s own – “Torn Apart By Werewolves,” originally released on a 1988 rehearsal, and “Luck Of The Corpse,” originally released on a 2012 Decibel flexi-disc.
Aside from the fact that it’s far too much to digest at once, which isn’t much of a complaint when you control the playlist, Cadaver Traditions only other fault is its inconsistent sound quality. Live tracks fall between studio cuts, all recorded at various times and with varying levels, and while it’s not a huge concern, certain tracks like Impetigo’s “Dis-Organ-Ized” or the live take on Dio‘s “Stand Up And Shout” are noticeably rougher than what surrounds them. (Although, in the case of Impetigo, that could well be a good thing, and intentional.)
Nevertheless, overwhelming though it may be when absorbed in one sitting, there’s more than enough rough and tumble energy in these Traditions to keep a smile on your face, keep you reaching for more, keep you shouting hoarsely along to “State Oppression” or “Wiped Out.” It’s a collection of great songs performed with a reverential and almost childish glee by a band that’s having as much of a good time playing them as you’re having listening to them.
Who says metal can’t be fun?