Odd-yssey: The Strange Death of Slice The Cake
A mother suffers in labor and dies in childbirth; her baby emerges knife-in-teeth from the fresh corpse. Such is the story of the demise of an awesome emerging band called Slice The Cake and the unlikely survival of their ambitious double-album that arrived back in April. Three years in the making and marked by intra-band strife, this pair of odysseys — actually titled Odyssey To The West and Odyssey To The Gallows (each below) — didn’t even register a blip on the MetalSucks radar, even as inherently newsworthy as they are. To find the cause of their strangely tiny profile — after all, reaching us daily are millions of modest albums less than one-millionth as squarely in our wheelhouse — is to consider their weird path to release.
Here’s the chronology:
The two-part album arrived without warning via the band’s social media on April Fools’ Day, nearly four years after their previous outing. A band announcement stated that the two Odysseys are to be enjoyed consecutively as one piece, and their unusual release was explained with a vague reference to internal disputes. Soon, Slice The Cake’s principal composer came forward to claim that the band’s statement was authored without his input, the album’s release was in direct contradiction to his wishes, and that it had been his plan to give the 100 minutes of material “a new home.”
Why? The first thing to know is that STC’s composers don’t perform in the band: Jack Magero (the main creator mentioned above) and Jake Lowe (of The Helix Nebula). According to Magero’s statement, a rift developed between him and STC vocalist Gareth Mason; he then approached the final member of the STC studio team, multi-instrumentalist Jonas Johansson, to start anew with the compositions — presumably as a new non-STC project. He received no response. It appears that it was at this point that Mason and Johansson then released the albums as Slice The Cake with no mention of Magero’s protests.
It’s a shame that ownership is in question, that we may be complicit in a wrongdoing by helping ourselves to ill-gotten property. For the Odysseys are 100 minutes of postmodern catharsis for discerning and destructive listeners, and arguably the most impressive work of 2016. For better or worse, a listener can sense why the albums’ release was risked by two of its members in defiance of a third: Gallons of sweat must’ve resulted from even the conception of the album’s superstructure, its blackened blastbeats, spoken-word movements, atmospheric interludes, and punches of textbook death metal — and that’s just the stuff that allows description.
But even Magero permits that listeners aren’t at fault. It’s a stalemate, so sacrifice is required by both creator and consumer. It can’t be undone. Thank fuck for that.
Additional reporting by David Lee Rothmund