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As a musician and devout metalhead, what options exist (*clears throat*) when your main creative outlet goes on an extended break with no foreseeable end in sight? (We don’t use the h-word here, and this is the last you shall hear of it.) I mean, sure, life does get in the way, but riffs still need to be riffed, right? Plenty of heads to be banged, right? Yes, you there! You with your hand raised stiff, frantically swaying in the air with strained gesticulation. What’s your answer? Ah yes, a side project. Correct answer indeed. Gold star patch for you, Battle Jacket Timmy.
And so, from our nation’s capital comes Mental Cavity: a hybrid-metallic four-piece rising like a pissed-off phoenix from the (still smouldering) embers of resident Aussie stoner metal outfit, I Exist. Coming together in 2016, with I Exist alumni Aaron ‘Oblivious Maximus’ Osborne (vocals/guitar), Alex Young (vocals/bass) and Simon Murphy (drums), alongside Rohan Todd (Loss of Self, Dead Kings) on guitar duties, the group released their debut, self-titled EP in January of this year.
On that EP, Mental Cavity presented themselves as a much leaner and meaner beast than their previous outfits. The mix was certainly thick and caustic, with plenty of doom-laden grooves. Yet the march of ballistic hardcore-punk backbeats was ever-present, as wicked riffs and soaring solos zagged through your eardrums with all the potent rage of heyday thrash. And so, with their new creative outlet firmly established, what’s the next best thing for a side project to do? Yup, you guessed it. Release more shit! Thus, in the space of as little as ten months (which is fuck all time, really), we bear witness to the arrival of Mental Cavity’s first full-length album: the crushing, twelve-track monstrosity that is ‘Aneurysm’.
The record kicks off with a brief intro riff and an ominous droning echo on the delightfully named ‘Earth of Excrement (Terrestial Guarantee)’. However, it’s mostly just a gee-up and grimy palette cleanser, because the real party starts with the rapid-fire injection of true album opener, ‘The Dissenter’. This solid track essentially functions as a mission statement for ‘Aneurysm’ and Mental Cavity as a whole: Osbourne and Todd weaving dexterously between old school death metal riffs, buzz-saw thrashing and soaring divebombs; Murphy’s merciless treatment of his ride cymbal and cracking snare drum; and Osbourne and Young’s tag-team vocal attack, a maelstrom of screams, grunts, and yells alongside the latter’s earth-shaking bottom-end.
This pattern then continues for most of the record and is satisfying and utterly relentless. ‘Suffer’ throws down like 100 Demons and Crowbar in a bare-knuckle brawl, with a great guest-vocal spot from Outright frontwoman Jelena Goluza. ‘I Am Death’ keeps the tempo way up, with an Entombed-esque lead riff and murky stomp section. Lead single ‘Bleak Outlook’ is one of the longest compositions on the album, and finds the group contemplating the embrace of death over massive sludgy grooves and hefty delayed vocals.
Across the record’s second half, brisk numbers like ‘Fault Line’ and ‘Curb Check’ keep things racing along, with lightning-quick transitions and bursts of soloing. Mid-tempo cut ‘Vulgar’ is another standout, with a dynamic rhythm-lead interplay that makes us recall the crushing best of Gatecreeper’s excellent ‘Sonoran Depravation’. The album closes with another two-fold fake-out: the breakneck riffage and blatant NOLA-worship of ‘Exoneration’; and the all-too-short, down-tuned chug-fest of ‘(Reprise) Earth Ripped Flesh’. Both of which cap off a wicked album!
When asked how to describe the sound of Mental Cavity in an interview with Rest Assured zine, Osbourne answered with this: “Tragedy hi fiving Death Breath in a car listening to Hatebreed wearing Bolt Thrower shirts.” And while kinda silly, is actually crazily accurate and is a hit-directly-on-the-head descriptor that makes my job as a reviewer effectively pointless. So, yeah, cheers Osbourne!
But look, Mental Cavity aren’t re-inventing the wheel with ‘Aneurysm,’ but they do make the idea of getting ripped and joyriding with those old wheels pretty damn exciting. ‘Aneurysm’ is succinct and purposeful, chewing through twelve tracks in just over half an hour, with bolstered songwriting chops and noticeable progression from the group’s debut EP. The riffs are mostly memorable, the vocal attack is frantic and ugly, and there’re plenty of grooves to close your eyes, sip your choice of beverage and nod your fucking head to.
- EARTH OF EXCREMENT (TERRESTRIAL GUARANTEE)
- THE DISSENTER
- I AM DEATH
- BLEAK OUTLOOK
- FAULT LINE
- CURB CHECK
- CREATE, DISTORT
- DELIRIUM COLLOSAL
- (REPRISE) EARTH RIPPED FLESH
‘Aneurysm’ is due for release via EVP Recordings on October 27. Pre-orders are available here.