ALBUM REVIEW: Cancerslug’s “Symphony of Savagery”


Following 2013s Seasons of Sickness LP and May 2016s Sassy for Satan, Cancerslug complete their Sadist album trilogy with their latest release, Symphony of Savagery. Unlike Sassy for Satan, that we called Cancerslug’s Pet Sounds, Savagery is more obtuse, sometimes jarring, and tonally darker. Obviously, any Cancerslug song is dark because of the nature of the lyrics. But lyrics aside, the music on Savagery is darker than that on Sassy. For me that makes it more unique and satisfying. Indeed, had they released 18 more songs that sounded like those on Sassy it could come off as redundant. Instead, Cancerslug push the other way on Savagery; more akin to the tone of Seasons.  All comparisons aside, Symphony of Savagery has its own identity.

Made up of 13 songs and 5 bonus-tracks from a 2012 recording session at Danger Studios (engineered by the late Joe Moody; to whom the album is also dedicated), Symphony of Savagery features the vocals of a possessed Alex Story and an unforgiving wall of guitars and drums. Sassy for Satan is almost slick in terms of production compared to the brutality of Savagery. Like any great Cancerslug song, the lyrics are typically grotesque. But, on Savagery, Story’s delivery is particularly angry. Spewing venom and horror, Story is intense and compelling. The riffs are diverse, alternating between sludge and punk as tempos change and emotions flare. And the songs are dynamic; fitting in multiple tempos and angles, often in 2-minutes or less.

Whether singing “I am a fucking force of nature,” or commanding “we will fist-fuck the walls around us until the world crumbles down around us,” Alex Story is in top form. Tracks like the Cramps-y “Rootwork,” the schizophrenic “Curse,” and the plaintive “Love Songs,” show that Cancerslug is no one-trick pony. Savagery is a dense and layered album; multiple listens bring out new discoveries. The songs “Destruction,” “Anathema,” and “Rats” are ferocious examples of the Cancerslug aesthetic. “Pale Moonlight” is one of the best examples of the albums frenetic juxtaposition of tempo and mood; shifting from harsh to melodic on a dime before blending it all together at the end. Sonically, the last five songs do sound like they were done at a different recording session, but they still fit naturally alongside the others and don’t feel tacked on.

Symphony of Savagery is the soundtrack to a brawl at a biker bar. It’s a barbarous collection of songs that due justice to its bold album title. Sassy for Satan is more immediate and palpable to the uninitiated, but Savagery is where you dig in, roll your sleeves up, and get dirty.

J. Kevin Lynch

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