You’ve just succumbed to life; cause of death: blast beat overdose. You’re in luck, however, as Skelethal and Cadaveric Fumes are the two pallbearers responsible for carrying your wooden cage into the underground, what a way to go! Where’s this analogy going, you might ask? I don’t know. Just read the damn review.
Historically, France hasn’t really fostered the greatest metal scene in relative terms. Other than the now-famous Gojira (are people really trying to label their music under a different subgenre? Just because they’re like the only metal band who sing about saving the environment? What’s up with that, man?) – You definitely forgot where and why that sentence started. Sorry for the rant, I’ll save you the trouble of looking two lines upward and I’ll start again, this time with more composure.
Other than the now-famous Gojira, I can really only name one cult metal band from France, which is Massacra, a death/thrash band from the ‘80s/’90s. I think the local scene has kind of grown within modern times, but for the most part, your band being from France is noteworthy enough for me to dedicate two paragraphs to such a fact.
Okay, I lied and I’m clearly a poser. I did an advanced search on Metal Archives, and there are over 5,000 bands listed as being from France. I still think that in relative terms my claims still stand, as Germany has a similar population and has over 10,000 bands listed on the website.
Are you still with me? Skelethal and Cadaveric Fumes are two niche death metal bands from France. The two groups amalgamated via morbid ritual to bring us a four-track split, totaling roughly 11 minutes long.
The split, titled Heirs of Hideous Secrecies, opens with two tracks from Cadaveric Fumes. The collective choice to unite the split under one name is quite interesting, as bands mostly opt to keep their names in the title, assumingly so the group that’s lesser-known to the listener sticks in their head. I think every split I reviewed this year so far has followed suit, so this is a nice change, I guess. I like the title.
While I’d label both groups under the “old-school death metal” tag, Cadaveric Fumes’ flavour of distortion/yelling leans more towards the Autopsy side of the spectrum. I wouldn’t quite call it death/doom, but they definitely slow things down a fair bit. “Necromancy Sublime” is a great showing of this citation, with its crawling nature and whatnot. Cadaveric Fumes are very proficient at breaking a song down and expanding it via guitar doodling and ever-evolving riffs. This song (as well as the opener, “The Spectral Parade”) juxtaposed Skelethal’s meat-and-potatoes-styled death metal quite nicely. Start slow and then wake me up.
While I did enjoy Cadaveric Fumes’ slower sound, I feel like “Necromancy Sublime” could have used some sort of rework. Be it a simple shortening (the track is nearly five minutes long), further variation in song structure, or even the addition of a few faster bits, the song kind of dragged on, to my ears at least. The track even opened with a fast-paced section, which could have easily been reworked into the song as a final segment or maybe some sort of demonic interlude, which would have worked nicely. I did enjoy how the track faded out in unison with the “vortex” sound effect at the end of the song, though. This track definitely needs some work.
Skelethal comes around the corner and smacks you with a bludgeoning guitar tone. While I did like Cadaveric Fumes’ garage demo-sounding production with the flat (in a good way) drum sound, the switch between the two bands’ recording styles makes it pretty evident that Skelethal’s music sounds way heavier, just simply from their production choices. The prior group’s production did work well with their slower style, however.
Skelethal won me over with this one, I have to admit. I’ve grown to really enjoy old-school death metal as a subgenre, especially the thick “meat and potatoes” variant. “Emerging from the Ethereal Thresh” and “Torrents of Putrefying Viscosity” are two stellar tracks, but I may be a bit biased.
“Emerging from the Ethereal Thresh” has a phenomenal groove to it, I don’t usually react as warmly to songs upon first listen like I did with this one. Right when I heard the first few guitar riffs I knew this was going to be my favourite song off the split. Swirling buzz-saw riffs, solid drumbeats, and strong song-building make this track what it is, this is just a great death metal tune. Point finale.
Skelethal follows and hits us with “Torrents of Putrefying Viscosity”, another solid number. Good intensity, great riffs, and once again solid song structures. These guys know how to construct a proper track, which goes a long way.
While Skelethal officially wins the award for the most stereotypical-sounding death metal track titles (come on, “Torrents of Putrefying Viscosity”? Close the thesaurus, buddy!), they also win this split. While Cadaveric Fumes has the better band name, their music isn’t as good. C’est comme ci, comme ça (don’t worry, I’m from Quebec, not just another critic using Google translate). I think Cadaveric Fumes needs to develop their songs a little further. Skelethal takes the cake on this one.