Cadaveric Fumes – Echoing Chambers of Soul Review

How does any metal band remain a going concern? Money and glory are scant, and the thrill of playing live is numbed by countless hours of cramped and flatulent Van Life. For promising acts like Cadaveric Fumes, the struggle to survive is real.1 Five eventful years after EP Dimensions Obscure enticed Grymm with its fusion of old school death metal, occult rock, and Gallic idiosyncrasy, these Frenchmen have released their first full-length Echoing Chambers of Soul. This debut is also a swan song, as the band is now calling it quits. Is Cadaveric Fumes leaving the stage with the grand statement hinted at by their early work, or has their creative engine sputtered to a stop?

Echoing Chambers of Soul ditches the magpie tendencies of the band’s earlier work, eschewing genre-hopping in favor of a straight-up death metal assault. The riffs are abundant and well-crafted, accompanied by machine gun double bass drums that pound the wax deep into your ear canal and lead guitar lines that snake in and dig it back out again. On compositions like “The Stirring Unknown” and “The Engulfed Sepulcher,” Cadaveric Fumes demonstrates a knack for navigating their way from chaos back to the stomping tremolo-picked riffs that are the heart of the album. This songwriting talent helps to compensate for the record’s scaled-back ambition. The band’s previous material reflected diverse influences like Bauhaus and, scout’s honor, a whiff of Andrew Lloyd Webber.2 Here, though, they’re focused solely on delivering their version of old school death.

The band may have chosen a narrow row to hoe, but they tend to it with demented verve. Guitarist Wenceslaus Carrieu, credited on earlier releases with “Grotesque String Manipulations,” lives up to that moniker on Echoing Chambers of Soul. His leads splat up against the music like they’re coated with infected mucous. Carrieu picks his spots with careful precision, lending spongy texture here or a frenzied mini-solo there. The lyrics of singer Romain Gibet could be deciphered on their early work, but now he opts for a raspy roar that renounces all hope of being understood. The style works well with the reinvented approach of Cadaveric Fumes. Dynamic numbers like “A Desolate Breed” and “In Cold Astral Sleep” jolt the listener like a charged EKG paddle, and, at thirty-three minutes, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome. It all just goes down smoothly. There’s an intelligence that underlies everything Cadaveric Fumes does, one that extends even to a logo that evokes actual fumes.

It’s easy to enjoy Echoing Chambers of Soul for the album it is, but it’s hard not to mourn the album it could have been. Cadaveric Fumes once had a ceiling higher than “quality death metal, of the kind you can find on any street corner.” The lunatic ambition of Dimensions Obscure promised great things, and here we get… good things. The album’s promo copy speaks of creative struggles and intramural feuds, which only adds to the sense that some delicate alchemy was disrupted during its creation. The production choices also tend toward the conventional. The murky atmosphere will be familiar to fans of bands like Grave Miasma, but there are numerous moments where it does the songs no favors. Léo Brard’s drums tend to plow through the mix and overwhelm the guitars that are the most distinctive aspect of the band’s sound.

It’s been a rough couple of years for all of us, and it’s tempting to imagine a world where Cadaveric Fumes made good on the abundant promise of their EPs and splits and went on to a long career as a death metal institution. In this world, however, reality got in the way—and the band sets off across the Styx with a record that mostly matches the quality of their previous work but fails to transcend it. As an epitaph, it’s not exactly a triumph—but we could all do worse.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: December 10, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The band is not called Cadaverous Fumes, thank you very much. “Cadaveric fumes” are fumes that come from an actual dead body. “Cadaverous fumes” smell like they could have come from a corpse and can therefore be considered poseur fumes.
  2. This opinion does not reflect those of AMG Management. – Steel
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