50 Forts Along the Ryan: Sometimes a release comes to the attention of Last Rites that just screams “Death Metal Dossier,” so naturally the first thing to do is tell Manny to get his ass in gear for some filthy riffage. This edition features the kind-of-blackened-death-but-let’s-be-honest-it’s-mostly-grimy-death-metal band Cavernus. Hailing from Mexico, the band makes their first obliterating footprint on the scene in the form of this Non Omnis Moriar demo. Hammering drums batter their way through a labored chaos of brutal, unrelenting full-assault guitar. While the production can get mucky and a bit tough to decipher, it forces the listener to turn the volume the fuck up and hear this music the way it’s meant to be heard: loud. There is structure to the chaos, and even bits of groove to be found among the frenzy, particularly on the drum breaks of “Holocausto.” The vocals vomit black entrails over the entire production, adding to the putrid stench that infiltrated every corner of the demo’s scope.
There is a certain weight to the whole thing that cannot be denied. The mortar fire of the kick drums with the high-caliber attack of snare strikes on tracks like “Pandemonio” work in tandem with the oppressive bass, like grasping hands pulling its victim deeper into the murk. The drumming isn’t just straight blasts either, rather it is well used in invoking bits of personality to the songs through pulverizing toms or the rapid-fire ring of the ride. They seem pretty on top of the mix, but to be fair just about everything does. This is a demo that deserves to be cranked to the max to properly be experienced by those who prefer their death metal thicker than levity.
Manny-O-War: Like a death metal buzzsaw, Cavernus lube up and straight rip over the 25 minutes of their demo (and first release). Hark! A keyboard announces the arrival of the forthcoming piccolo snare, tuned to machine gun levels of tightness. Guitars swathed in armor beckon forth to tear through obstacles, leaving shard and shrapnel in their path as riffs cut like shark’s teeth through oil drums. “Holocausto” is a great example of the grit and fury laid down by Cavernus. That track, at once both blistering and halting, sets forth a dizzying number of sheer parts and transitions. Yet at the heart of the attack is always a spiraling riff both chunky and direct in its assault. “Trance Cosmico” opens thin–a keyboard supported by heathenous vocals before the mid-heavy guitars bore through the surface tension as the track evolves into a double-slapped snare over thickly-layered bass and guitar. The vocals, as are by this point on the demo standard for Cavernus, tend to build in intensity broiling up from the depths of the diaphragm to finish in squelches and squeals set free from the nasal cavity.
Like many demos, this one sounds raw. But unlike many demos, it sounds raw in a way that was not only intentional but advantageous to the composition. While aspects of the recording may sound thin, perhaps the guitars could use more oomph at times, there is always plenty of bass from the drums, sounding like a pipe bomb going off inside your stomach. As the demo fades to black with an acoustic guitar playing a somber, minor melody, it is clear that Mexico’s Cavernus are not only excited to be playing this special brand of blackened death metal but that they are serious about their musical message.