Cicada The Burrower – Corpseflower

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: https://www.facebook.com/bluebedroomrecords/
Released: 2021
Buy Album: https://bluebedroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/corpseflower
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/cicadatheburrower

Band line-up:

Cameron Davis

Tracklisting:

1. The Fever Room
2. Glamour
3. Where Old Crystals Grow
4. Psilocybin Death Spiral
5. Corpseflower

 

 

 

 

 

Review:

Cicada The Burrower are a progressive black metal act from Madison, WI and on Blue Bedroom Records, that features lone musician Cameron Davis. With his act, he will be releasing his fourth full-length album ‘Corpseflower’ on April 23rd, 2021. Since founding all the way back in 2012, CtB have released two demo albums, an EP, a single and a split release. Cameron’s productivity can be at least partially explained by his overwhelming need to express himself. He comments ‘I spent several years experimenting with different styles of music… The resulting effort is a gentle blend of adult contemporary and black metal’.

The hypnotic, clean guitars in opening track ‘The Fever Room’ have a bit of a Tool feel. Like the prog superstars, distorted guitars follow, but Cicada unsurprisingly go into a different direction with them, in a black metal style. Sadly, such distorted guitar parts aren’t quite so well thought out. Rather than them being truly intelligent, they’re more plainly aggressive in somewhat of a cliched manner. Unusual rhythms add to the tension, but many prog fans will be looking for something deeper in terms of melody and general inventiveness. However, the outro of the song does lead into the following track quite nicely. The ending may be a little rushed-sounding, but it’s a style that works, because of the unpredictability of the song on the whole.

The second track also has a mixture of clean and fuzzy, but this time round, the ‘nicer’ guitar parts are more extensive and are combined more with the harsher ones, to create something chilled yet aggressive. How can I put this? Ok, this might seem a little weird, but bare with me: Think about puffing a nice cigar. You’ll be relaxed, yet you’ll have a good chance of developing cancer. The album title ‘Corpseflower’ is fairly descriptive. The music here is frequently beautiful and ugly at the same time. Again, arguably the prettier parts are stronger, as the contrasting sections are a bit more basic. 

By the time you get into the third song, you may start getting the impression the band are sticking to a formula a bit too much. You could argue they’re simply developing their sound, but for a prog band they are somewhat on the minimalist side. The fourth track does start immediately with something a little different, however – an aggressive heavy metal riff that is strong enough to stand on its own. It kind of reminds me of some of Staind’s stuff. Clean guitars have been swapped with distorted leads that provide the melody, later on. It’s a bit of a breath of fresh air, but for black metal, it’s still quite mellow. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. 

The closing track is an eleven minute epic that has reasonably strong smooth jazz influences! It’s not long before more distorted guitars enter with a genuinely good jazzy bass line. It’s not a sound you hear every day, but it works as much as it confuses. Even so, the sound is somewhat stripped down, and maybe some more melody would be appreciated. As it stands, it’s more like background music, though it does develop into something a bit more complex in places. The track ends on an unspectacular note, which on the one hand is a little disappointing, but on the other, it makes you think of sad thoughts. It’s quite poignant for the genre.

In conclusion, this stuff is pretty weird, but not freakishly so. There is a fair amount of variety on offer, but the album could have done with more, especially in the more aggressive sections that don’t really excite like they perhaps should have. I was hoping for more of a rollercoaster, but what you get is more of a journey. Of course, that may be what you want. The various patterns are sometime strong, but they’re just as often a little on the forgettable side. It’s a bit of the shame the way the bassist only truly shines on the last track; his lines are the most creative and musical, there. I guess the band wanted to end on some sort of a climax, if not a more obvious one. This stuff is recommended but it could be better. In the world of black metal, this is a quite inventive. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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