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Cenotaph - Riding Our Black Oceans
Review: One of the first bands to catch on to the power of embedded melody in death metal was far from Sweden, and in Mexico these brave warriors erected a monument of metal majesty in the inventive wanderlust hymns in the style of melodic lead riffers At the Gates or Sentenced. Using the throbbing interaction of bass and guitar allows the subtleties of texture wrought from fast fingerwork to match expectations and a sense of space as learned structures expand.
Keeping open spaces in their songs for turbulent variations on a harmony over spaced out drumming emphasizing an internal rhythm for the sake of keeping the crossbeat alive stabilizes dynamics. Guitar work is tasteful but fast and deliciously intricate at its height, interlacing riffs with melody and riding above internal harmonies to synthesize a larger tonal space for the piece to manipulate. Whether accepted for its sonority or rhythm, it is wise to remember the powerful role the latter plays and to notice how well applied that here is, with an organic yet highly structured patterning to the supportive lead riffing in the style of bands like Nocturnus or Rigor Mortis.
Working at a level far above most bands who appropriate this aesthetic, Cenotaph also position the dynamics of each piece intelligently in layers of change; the only band similar in this respect would be Sepultura or Slayer. While appearing unsteady, the combination of melodic lead playing and rigid, intricate rhythm gives a new face to the unique brand of death metal from this band. Deeply rhythmic and harmonically lush and wide, each of these songs is a classic in its freshness and development of what still is a high point in its genre.