There’s plenty that needs saying regarding solid workmanship. Think about that ridiculously comfortable couch that’s been at your parents’ place for ages and, though worn, still manages to handle jumping grandkids and afternoon naps with ease. Or that old truck your buddy bought when he was 16 that still runs like a dream. In our novelty-obsessed culture, I find that we devalue understated, capable craft to a degree that is often detrimental to reliable, quality product. Greek stalwarts Cerebrum are the equivalent of the above products for the death metal world. Working diligently (and deliberately) since 2005, the band have churned out full-length releases that are sterling examples of the benefits of consistency and careful craft. Their third such release, Iridium, is a successful continuation of their songwriting model. This isn’t progressive/technical death metal that will befuddle and perplex like the music of Ingurgitating Oblivion or Pyrrhon, but it doesn’t intend to. What Cerebrum provide instead is a heaping helping of met expectations, and songs that effectively solidify their reputation as uniformly consistent death metal artists.
There’s very little in this record that will surprise you if you’re a fan of this vein of death metal. Opening track “Time Reversal” gives you just about everything you need to parse the band’s solidly technical songwriting chops, and that’s honestly a good thing. Fuzzy guitar tone battles it out with noticeable bass (thankfully given appropriate emphasis in the mix), with some steady and at times intricate drum work. There are practically no dips in quality if we are using the opening track as a template for the rest of the record. “A Face Unknown” and “Memory Hoax” display a hefty chunk of the band’s capabilities instrumentally, coupling the band’s progressive bent with some techy guitar work that’s as impressive as it is enjoyable to listen to. The album’s remaining tracks balance technical sensibility with some straightforward (at least for death metal with this much prog influence) songwriting that never feels overwhelming.
That’s honestly a huge compliment that I can give to Iridium that I’m not always able to give to death metal records: It’s genuinely fun and easy to listen to. Start-to-finish, these tracks maintain consistent quality and entertainment value through production choices that minimize the harshest potential of the music, allowing for these performances to stand on their own without the need to drown them in production-oriented murk. This clarity allows these musicians to shine individually and as a collective, highlighting their abilities to maximum potential. It may not be the wildest tech death album you’ve heard this year, but it sure is hell will be one of the most consistently enjoyable.
I’ve little to fault Cerebrum for here. Their third record is as solid a piece of prog-infused tech death as you are likely to hear, and the band should be commended for their ability to meld typically abrasive sounds clearly and with high listenability. It may not knock your socks off in the innovation department, but I don’t think that’s what the band is aiming for here. It’s thoroughly enjoyable stuff from a band that deserves more recognition than they’ve thus far received.