Sound — 8
Cleansed is the debut EP from intercontinental progressive deathcore band Slice the Cake. That's right, intercontinental. It's a global effort. There are a total of three members, split up between the UK, Sweden, and Australia. As if this wasn't interesting enough, two of the members are confirmed to be Ultimate-Guitar users. First things first. I know what you're thinking. "Slice The Cake? Really?" Yes, really. To paraphrase for the band, the name Slice The Cake is a play on many modern band names which follow the "verb the noun" trend, ie, Salt The Wound, Escape The Fate, Poison The Well, etc. The utterly ridiculous name was chosen because the band wanted the music to speak for itself. And speak (er, scream?) it does. Now, I know that some of you out there may be skeptical. Your first thoughts may be "How good can something a few UGers slapped together over the internet be?" Well, better than you think. If you're a fan of deathcore or metalcore, you'll be banging your head from start to finish. If you're more of a metal purist, you may want to skip the introduction for now, as it is basically one long breakdown with a bit of riffing and some ominous leads over it. Once the intro finishes, it transitions seamlessly into the next track, Squander. In my opinion, this song alone can give you a rough idea of what the band is made of. Frantic riffing, hypnotic leads, powerful vocals, and a breakneck rhythm section. There's also some surprising moments, such as a clean section. Yep, clean guitars and clean vocals. Nothing new for metalcore, but for deathcore? I didn't believe it myself until I heard it. And it's great because the song still keeps it's pace (thanks to the drums) even while everything has calmed down. Worried about the band sounding generic? Don't let that turn you away. Granted, there are a few sparse "I've heard this before" moments on the album, but they're usually just one of the breakdowns (like the beginning of Race of Roses). This isn't one of those "chug chug" kind of deathcore bands, or one of those hyper-technical "let's see if this is even physically possible" deathcore bands. Rather, the riffing is tasteful, breakdowns are not overused, and the music is, dare I say, almost melodic. Ever heard a deathcore song that you could hum? Me either. But they pull it off.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically I can't provide much of an input, as, well, it's kinda hard to make out the lyrics. Every once in a while you'll catch a phrase here and there, but for the most part, it would take a death metal veteran to get everything. But it's not of the standard "brutal" fare. No gore lyrics here. Instead, things seem to come from a philosophical or introspective point of view. But hey, that only comes from the one lyric I could understand (What worth is transcendence in a world of fools?). Gareth is one beastly vocalist though. While the lyrics aren't always intelligible, you don't need to know what he's saying in order to appreciate his vocal abilites. His growls are smooth, yet at the same time, they're intimidating, powerful, and full of emotion. I think that's the best way I can describe it. His clean vocals, for me, were a hit and miss. They were fantastic on the earlier demo for Squander (then titled Mastodon of Obsolescence) but they seemed to falter on the final production. I mean, they weren't bad by any standards, but they just weren't as good as on the demo. But when they're featured again on Race of Roses, his vocals definitely hit the target.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been ignoring most of the deathcore being released this year. Those records that I have listened to (Volumes, Wrath and Rapture, Upon a Burning Body) have all been decent at best. But Slice The Cake definitely takes the cake (ha ha) so far. Sure, there may only be three actual songs, but all three are memorable heavy hitters. Head over to their MySpace page and listen to the tracks Squander, Cleansed, and Race of Roses. Oh, and there's a bonus track, too, which really delivers on the laughs. I am impressed with the quality of the work put out. When I work with a band, I prefer to be in the same room, you know? But these guys have thousands of miles in between them, and I'm pretty sure none of these members have even seen eachothers faces in real life. But creativity knows no bounds.