Waking the Cadaver – Authority Through Intimidation Review

Waking the Cadaver is a few things to a lot of people. The first and most obvious one is them being the “Shredded Wheat” band from what was arguably the first popular metal meme. It was also the most memorable and probably the funniest, rivaled only by the Trivium “Boat Rudder” one and some gems from that page which dealt exclusively in Mortician memes. The second one, almost equally obvious, is that Waking the Cadaver traffic in a somewhat…controversial take on extreme metal which is often offensive to the ears of normies and metalheads alike. Third, Waking the Cadaver has some vitriolic bad reviews on Metal Archives. My favorite album of theirs, Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler, sits at a kingly 25% average – a firm 1.0/5.0 on the AMG scale.

Those hoping for a similar thrashing here will be gravely disappointed. I was delighted that Authority through Intimidation represents one of the few instances where the band’s own hype for the record corresponds neatly with reality. Waking the Cadaver said they were merging the sound of their debut (Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler) with their last record before their hiatus (Real Life Death). I couldn’t have said it better myself. The improved chops, tighter songwriting, and more “normal” production of Real Life Death has remained, but the gratuitous and almost comedic brutality of the debut has been brought back in full force. Stylistically, Waking the Cadaver play hardcore-influenced slamming death metal – in their terms “slamming gore groove” – and that’s it.

This sits perfectly well with me. In fact, Authority through Intimidation may be the most “proper” record Waking the Cadaver has ever done. It’s tight, wastes zero time, is smartly written, expertly played, and is produced in a way that’s not too rough as to spook the heavy music dabblers but isn’t sterile either. Vocalist Don Campan sounds fantastic, alternating between hardcore-influenced growl-shouting, slam vocals (as Crepitation would put it, “weep-beeps” and “gurgly-wurglies”), and some gory gutturals approaching Last Days of Humanity. The music never lets up on being “slamming gore groove,” meaning that you get zero stylistic surprises once you’ve heard the first song. The enjoyment comes with how well Waking the Cadaver executes their chosen style.

The execution here is, in a word, freewheeling. Because Waking the Cadaver is a melting pot of their influences, they don’t have to pick one subgenre-based “lane” and stay rigidly within it. This works to their benefit, as they’ll regularly tilt the scales from slam to hardcore, sometimes using the same riff as both pit riff and slam by playing it with different techniques and emphases (“Threaten Physical Force”). Other times they’ll just make a slamming pit riff, like in “Asphyxiating Ligature.” That song also has an extremely satisfying callback at its conclusion to “Chased through the Woods by a Rapist” (a.k.a. the “Shredded Wheat” song) and I can’t help but think it was intentional. Either way, I’m a fan. I’m also a fan of “Frenzied Vehicular Rampage” – frontrunner for the best song title of 2021 – and the choice to make the couplet of “cruising on the highway/smoking a big fat blunt” the most readily decipherable lyrics on the record. This track possesses some real Dying Fetus heft in some of the riffs too, making it one of my favorites here. The concluding beatdown of “Arbiter of Punishment” is equal parts pulverizing and catchy, grafting an obvious highlight on an already solid song. Another great concluding beatdown occurs in the aforementioned “Threaten Physical Force,” and that one’s been stuck in my head since I first heard it as an advanced track months ago.

I can talk about this riff or that part until I too am a cadaver that needs waking, but ultimately Authority through Intimidation succeeds in the simplest possible way: it’s a ton of fun. When critics who want to keep some semblance of “proper” credibility have the gall to like something that’s not critic-bait – like action movies – a common caveat in their endorsement is “this isn’t going to win any awards.” I think that would be a badge of honor for Waking the Cadaver. Authority through Intimidation is not meant to appeal to the pretentious pseudointellectual types. It’s meant to appeal to Waking the Cadaver and fans of Waking the Cadaver. Judging by the band’s sheer enthusiasm on this record, it succeeded at the former. If my reaction to this is any indication, it’ll succeed at the latter as well.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: wakingthecadaverofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/wakingthecadaverofficial
Releases Worldwide: October 22nd, 2021

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