Neural Net Meltdown
13 November 2015 – Amputated Vein Records
02. Twitching Eye Staccato
03. Secluded Out Of Touch By Avoiding Mankind
04. Metaphysics (SKIT)
05. Discordian Equilibrium
06. Grotesque Dreaming
07. Soul Famine
09. Tangled In Trial And Error Scenarios
10. Vile Effect Momentum
“You don’t have to be crazy to work here…but it helps.”
If you have a boss with a sense of humour fitting for a second The Office reboot, he/she surely has one of these posters hanging in the office and believes him/herself to be the funniest office worker outside Dilbert.
That being said, it is appropriate – however lame the cliché is – to borrow it for the purpose of introducing you to today’s review subject: Cerebric Turmoil’s debut full length album Neural Net Meltdown; you don’t have to be crazy to enjoy it but it’s not difficult to imagine requiring your own little neural net meltdown to give you insight and understanding into the frantic nature of the German group’s brand of mathcore-infused, slam-peddling technical death metal.
The ambient, spacey “Introduction“ might convince you that you’re in for the familiar, metaphysically lyrical, space-obsessed tech death of yesteryear, but the frequent tempo changes and schizophrenic vocal delivery of “Twitching Eye Staccato” immediately lets you know you’re in for something different.
Cerebric Turmoil’s melting pot of influences most prominently includes bands like Cephalic Carnage and, according to the band/label, tech grind superstars Psyopus, although a more apt description would be a three way crash between Cephalic Carnage, The Crinn’s mind altering EP Kills Curiosity, and an unfortunate pedestrian listening to Wormed.
It’s par for the course when speaking of technical or mathy music that each member of the band brings his ‘A game’ to the table but, in terms familiar to players of Japanese video games, the members of Cerebric Turmoil have brought their S game here. Guitarists Marte and Arne mix the traditional sweeps, intricate alternate picked riffs and chugging with more mathcore influenced riffs. Odd slides, jazzy chords and intense weirdness are all present and give the rhythm section – comprised of session bass player Jacob Schmidt from Defeated Sanity and full time drummer Marcus Klemm – plenty with which to work. Indeed, working with it is an understatement as both excel at their respective jobs; the bass gets a fairly prominent role throughout Neural Net Meltdown, and the drums expertly navigate the band through the maze of stylistic, tempo and time signature changes.
On top of all that, vocalist Chris Reese has character that most death metal vocalists lack, and has it in spades. Each of his styles – and there are quite a few – has a point and purpose on the album, with some really catchy moments, and others that sound completely off the chain. The slam-influenced gurgling – which sounds as if it’s emanating from a sewer – are the weakest among the bunch, and even they are appropriate wherever they pop up.
The variety in vocal delivery brings the album even closer to the Crinn comparison earlier (and perhaps early Psycroptic vocalist Matthew Chalk), and if Cerebric Turmoil took that extra step and added just a hint of deranged The Crinn/Blood Brothers influenced clean vocals into the mix the resulting record would no doubt be the most interesting albums to come out of the death metal scene in years.
With that said Neural Net Meltdown is in fact still one of the most interesting death metal albums to come out of the scene in recent years. It takes elements of what has now been lovingly labelled as OG tech-grind and mixes it with current tech-death ideas to make a sound that is truly Cerebric Turmoil’s own. This year has been a great one for death metal, but in Neural Net Meltdown, Cerebric Turmoil have created something absolutely essential, and a genuine death metal album of the year candidate.