I first got into Cephalic Carnage because of the metalcore parody song, “Dying Will Be the Death of Me.” But when I heard the rest of the album on which that song appears, Anomalies, I thought, “Well, this is good, but it’s just too disjointed for me. There are so many styles, it’s just too all over the place.” I couldn’t deal with the randomness. Anomalies felt like more of an outline than anything groundbreaking.

Then Xenosapien came out, and I was floored. It was like all the ideas from Anomalies had been compressed and recycled into a frantic yet undeniably coherent death/grind mass. I felt that it was pretty much Cephalic’s pinnacle performance, and didn’t expect much more than a rehash of its ideas on the band’s next release. I was actually very wrong, as I discovered about a month ago when Misled by Certainty came out.

Before the album was released, Cephalic lost one of their their guitarists, Zac Joe. I was worried, because Joe’s guitar work has always been a big selling point for me. But honestly? I can hear pretty much no loss in the technicality or creativity of the music, which makes me think either that the group’s new guitarist, Brian Hopp, is a god ,or that the co-guitarist Steve Goldbergdid the majority of the songwriting.

Either way, the new material from Misled is even deeper, nuttier, and more layered than the stuff on Xenosapien was. It is,  again, ferociously technical (“Ohrwurm,” “Abraxas of Filth,” “Warbots A.M.,” etc.), titanically heavy (“Cordyceps Humanis”), and grotesquesly mind-warping (“Pure Horses,” “P.G.A.D.”). Certain songs, like “Dimensional Modulation Transmography,” incorporate a brutal sound technique that’s heavy and creative, and calls to mind some of the material from Devin Townsend’s Ki. similar to Devin Townsend’s Ki. Cephalic really do a damn good job of keeping things both heavy and interesting, which is, amidst the sea of terrible deathcore albums floating around these days, truly refreshing. The most impressive song, “Repangaea,” recalls Xenosapien‘s “G.O.D.” – it’s a sprawling, twelve minute doom epic laden with saxophone breaks (Cephalic seem to have taken a few lessons from Ihsahn recently), clean guitar sections, and soaring – yes, soaring – vocals. There’s just so much to take in on this album it’s going to take listeners quite a few listens to get even slightly used to it.

Misled is not perfect – a few songs (“Pure Horses,” “Aeyeucgh!”) are just too much like straight-up grind for my tastes. But on the whole it’s a fantastic record, deserving of all metalheads’ time and interest, and certainly one of the best albums of the year.

(4 1/2 horns out of 5)


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