God's Spreading Cancer
posted on 2/2010 By:
Thanks to John McEntee's Ibex Moon Records, this latest effort from Brazilian death metal outfit Headhunter D.C. finally hits US shores some two years after the album's initial Brazilian and European releases, with some bonus tracks on hand to sweeten the deal. (The nominal "DC" is short for "death cult," in case you’re curious, and for any grammarians who may wonder, the apostrophe in the album title is of the possessive variety, not the contractive—"I am God’s spreading cancer," declares the titular track.) Headhunter’s style of death metal is of the old-school variety because the band themselves are of the old-school variety— nearly twenty-five years old now and counting. Spreading Cancer is the band’s fourth full-length in those two-plus decades, and I’ll admit that it’s my first exposure to this long-standing band. I will also happily declare that this will not be my last foray into the land of the Death Cult, as this Cancer is killer, kids.
As I listen, the most immediate comparisons that come to mind are Floridian, with a dash of the Brazilian—some combination of Deicide, Morbid Angel, Obituary-ish swagger and early Sepultura-n thrash. Headhunter plays their death metal solid and vicious, sometimes at a not-quite-breakneck pace, but they’re equally adept at a positively destructive mid-tempo lumber. (Witness the chugging title track, with its devilish "backwards-tracked vocal atop chanting monks" midsection and thrashy outro. Although every track on hand is stout and well-written, that particular track is the album’s centerpiece, both literally and figuratively.) The production is warm, grimy, meaty—exactly how a death metal record should sound. Lyrically, the atmosphere is decidedly anti-Christian, and although they’re not exactly thematically inventive, I’m moderately impressed with the band’s lyrics. There’s a depth and a quality to them that steps beyond simple "All hail Satan" clichés—"Contemptation" and the title track, especially.
On the instrumental front, guitarists Paulo Lisboa and Fabio Nosferatus crank out tremolo-picked savagery with the occasional thrashier riff, and they pepper their mixture with tasteful warm and melodic soloing. The contrast between head-banging extremity, driving groove and those fleeting nods to conventional melody helps to keep the album interesting, adding a new dimension to the band’s mastery of straight-ahead death. Vocalist Sergio Baloff’s vocals are generally layered, and he employs a variety of approaches, ranging from a belching growl to a plaintive monotonous clean. His occasional screams are reminiscent of John Tardy’s singularly wretched retch, again evoking Obituary, but mostly, he sticks to a low snarling grunt.
The bonus tracks consist of a cover and three live cuts—the latter very "live," and all of the ragged n’ raw recording quality I tend to expect when I explore the Brazilian underground. Two of the tracks date back to the band’s debut, 1991’s Born…Suffer…Die, and I did find it interesting to hear some earlier material. All three are solid, but none are anything more than what they’re sold as: bonus cuts. The cover of Necrovore’s "Slaughtered Remains" fares better, fitting in nicely with the remainder of the record proper. All told, I’m glad that these bonus tracks are here, but the record’s true selling point is…well, the record.
God’s Spreading Cancer is a massive slab of good ol’ Christ-bashing death metal—no tech, no blackened atmosphere, no gimmicks. I may be late to the party, but long live the Death Cult indeed.
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