Grand Cadaver
Deities of Deathlike Sleep

For those of you in America and around the world still very much in the hellacious grip of global warming’s wrath, I apologize for what I’m about to say but – ’round these parts, the creeping chill of autumn’s arrival is very much starting to make an appearance, and frankly I need it to just hurry the fuck up and get here fully in earnest. I’m not built for heat. This is why I live as far north as I can get before national mandate says I have to start taking maple shots every morning before saying “soorry” to the first 6 people I see. I need icy, invigorating northern winds. I need the kind of weather that stabs you in the face the minute you walk out the door in the morning.

So no, we’re not quite there yet, but the evening air is starting to have just enough bite to fill my head with visions of beautiful, decaying life (fall foliage), the charred scent of burning, dismembered corpses (wood fires) and the sickly-sweet taste of fermenting death itself (apple cider). I can feel nature’s life cycle coming to it’s slow, inevitable end – ushering in a time of year where things much more dreadful and macabre start to take center stage. What a perfect time, then, for Grand Cadaver to return with another heaping mound of buzzsaw-drenched, cobweb-ridden Death Metal straight from the cold depths of some Swedish crypt.

*again, if you woke up today and it was already 120 degrees out, I really do apologize for my bullshit.

For whatever it’s worth, I gotta give the supergroup credit for their work ethic. It’s not often you find a side project like this releasing as much material as they have in such a short period of time, what with conflicting schedules and priorities wreaking havoc on these kinds of collaborations. But as with their debut EP Madness Comes and 2021’s Into the Maw of Death, there seems to be a genuine feeling of joy and passion being thrown into these songs, morbid and moth-ridden as they may be. With four shotgun blast snare hits ringing the record in, Deities of Deathlike Sleep wastes no time at all getting right to the whole point of this project – a celebration of buzzsaw riffs and filthy grooves that bring you right back to the 90s as if the likes of early Entombed, Dismember and Carnage never went out of style. And man, I said it before on their prior work, and I’ll say it again: it is such a goddamn treat to hear Mikael Stanne’s vocals on a project like this. Where Dark Tranquillity offered the world the more refined precision of a dentists’ drill to the world of Swedish Death Metal, Grand Cadaver is the old, gnarly Husqvarna found in the back of the shed covered in oil and… is that blood? (What the hell is grandpa getting into back here in the woods??!) Stanne signature, gurgling growls fit this kind of thing like a custom-built coffin cradles a fresh corpse, and it’s a thing of absolute beauty. When he bellows out the intro of “A Crawling Beast of Decay,” or belts out the obligatory “OUGH!” on the alum’s title track, goddamn if I don’t want to sprint into the woods and dropkick a bear. It’s so good.

But lest you think Stanne is the only reason to keep giving Grand Cadaver a spin, the grooves and unique melodies crafted by guitarists Stefan Lagergren (The Griften, ex-Expulsion and Tiamat) and Alex Stjerfeldt (Let Them Hang, Child) more than match the effort. In fact, the album’s real signature moments come from some the eerie, spooky dissonant melodies being layered over different sections of Deities…, with especially notable selections coming on tracks like “Serrated Jaws” and “True Necrogeny,” both of which add a bit more of a doomy, 1914-ish quality and capture the same sort of hopelessness and despair, making you feel as though death is just over your shoulder ready to strike. And while not as spooky, the melodic leads on a track like “The Wishful Dead” add a great, catchy-as-all-hell balance to what is otherwise just a filth storm of blood, guts and offal, like a delicate rose placed at the center of the most vile, unspeakable table full of unidentifiable meats and organs. The gore overwhelms the scene, and yet that single flower somehow ends up grabbing your attention even more. It’s all weirdly beautiful.

But if you’re not here for the nuance, the sheer heft and groove of this thing will be more than enough to satisfy your need to bleed. The aforementioned “Serrated Jaws” has an absolute bruiser of a breakdown that will go down as one of the year’s best (in my book, anyway), and the raucous, get-on-board-or-get-bent Death n’ Roll fury of “Vortex of Blood” is pure, sadistic joy from start to finish. This is not the sort of track that requires a PHD to dissect, it’s only purpose is to make your head bang and put a smile on your face, and that’s just fine by me. The same can be said for the ridiculously titled “Stabbed with Frozen Blood,” which criss-crosses at the intersection of full-throttle mayhem and groovier, crushing heft with such ease that you hardly have time to keep up with when to circle-pit, when to start full-body headbanging, when to stop and drink the blood of the insolent, it’s a lot! And it leads up so nicely to the absolute banger of a finale in “Necrosanctum,” whose grooves are, for now at least, imprinted in my brain with no foreseeable end in sight. It’s everything you could want from an old school Swedish Death tribute, right up to its epic-as-hell conclusion. One of my favorite tracks of 2023, without question.

Call it a good problem to have – where once upon a time this particular brand of throwback Death Metal release was much more rarified and special, these days you can’t hardly round a corner before another crazed, depraved lunatic is trying to mow you down with their Swedish buzzsaw – and there’s no shortage of REALLY good ones, either! To that end, I don’t know if I can necessarily call Deities of Deathlike Sleep the BEST modern tribute to classic Swedish Death done right you’ll find out there today, but it’s goddamn good one – and it’s still the only one with those friggin’ superb Stanne vocals at the helm. That’s more than enough to get me on board, and you should add it to your arsenal, pronto.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
September 1st, 2023

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