Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement – Constructing the Cataclysm Review

Let’s address the elephant in the dojo right away: Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement is a stupid name. It’s one of hundreds in a long and not very proud line of uninspired, overly wordy death metal band names. I’m all for cool ninja stuff – my tattered Octagon DVD is a prized possession – but how does a shuriken even entwine someone? It doesn’t make sense. Still, my track record proves I’m attracted to bands with questionable names. The album art is cool, and I really wanted the music to match. Name and art aside, the band plays your typical classic style of balls to the bloody walls death metal. Does their second full-length record add a much-needed touch of eastern spice to an increasingly bland mix of festering genre copycats or is Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement ronin down a dead-end road?

Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement is a two-man side project from death metal veterans Jordan Varela and Jay Barnes (no relation to Chris that I could see). Varela handles all the instruments while Barnes handles the growls, shrieks and groans. Both are members of Lust of Decay which I was delighted to learn have a song called “Head in a Crock Pot.” Until I listened to it. Both bandmates are clearly talented guys. Varela lays down some ferocious and exceptionally tight guitar and drum work. Barnes delivers the perfect sulfuric acid gargling vocals. Their pedigree in the death metal world shines through and the production has improved greatly from their previous outing. But they need a songwriter. While the musicianship is impressive, it never seems to go in any noticeable direction. Like a wandering Samurai, the songs seem to follow a template of what they should be but lack their own identity or purpose.

Constructing the Cataclysm (whatever that means) suffers from a lack of variety, texture and originality. It’s 33 minutes of rapid-fire tremolo riffs and pounding double bass drum blasts. The energy is there but where are the old skool grooves? Even Deicide liked to stir up a good mosh pit now and then. As Dolphin Whisperer opined in his recent Fleshrot review “Another day, another death metal album.” If you’re going to taint the vast ocean of death metal out there, you’d better do something to stand out. Other than interjecting a few short radio plays featuring faux Japanese music and stabbing sounds, the Shuriken boys don’t have a lot new to contribute. I like the Japanese theme they bring to the genre but song titles like “Insidious Spiritual Incarceration” and “Irrevocable Siege of the Abominable” don’t seem to tap this potential. You need only look at the song titles on Constructing the Cataclysm to see that the thesaurus writes most of their material.

Every time I sat down to give this album a proper listening it started well enough. “Insurrection of the Diabolical” opens things with some solid OSDM vibes and even a couple of tasty groves. Then suddenly 32 minutes whiz by and I’m clipping my toenails wondering where the rest of the album went. It’s the equivalent of falling asleep during an Adam Sandler movie: There were probably some entertaining parts, but you never worry that you missed anything important. The album just doesn’t grab you by the obi, slam you to the floor and stomp on you like good death metal should. I like the economy of a shorter record for this style of music but two decent songs out of eight isn’t great odds. Besides the opening track, “Fragmenting the Profane” (whatever that means) is the only other song that stands out in a rack of dull katana blades.

Death metal should be fun. Its appeal lies largely in its ability to plant putrid tongue in rotting cheek. Fleshrot recently proved it can still be fun, but Constructing the Cataclysm falls flat. Should Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement commit Seppuku? Maybe not just yet, but the death metal world is no place for disgrace. While this album sounds better than a lot of Barnes and Varela’s output, the songs fail to hit their mark. Any samurai worth his honor knows it’s time to return to their sensei when this happens. By studying the masters, honing their riffs and riding forth into the studio with renewed purpose and sharpened blades, perhaps they can serve up a baby cartload of savory tracks like so many Benihana hibachi steaks.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 319kbps mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Releases Worldwide: August 5, 2022

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