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Like the forever under appreciated underground icons Golem, Cemetery, Ingurgitating Oblivion and Pavor, Anasarca was never one of the big German death metal bands. It probably didn’t help either that they completely fell off the map after 2004’s uniformly savage “Dying”. To say that their resurgence in 2015 was unexpected would be an understatement. They never formally split as much as they went on an extended hiatus as members tended to other obligations. "Survival Mode” - a conceptual undertaking about the extremes that humans will resort to in life-threatening situations – is therefore fitting on several levels, the most obvious that Anasarca absolutely refuses to go quietly into the night. They’re the ultimate survivalists. The near-decade long hiatus hasn't dulled Anasarca in the slightest.

Anasarca was, is and forever will be, Michael Dormann and his rotating assembly of musicians. “Survival Mode” is a new chapter of sorts. It’s the first without long-time drummer Herbert Grimm as well as the first since 2000’s “Moribund” to be written and recorded as an entire band and, in a first since their sub-classic debut “Godmachine” from 1998, all the lyrics were written by the band themselves. As expected from a band returning after an extended hiatus “Survival Mode”” is sounds instantly familiar, as if Anasarca (who have the coolest logo ever) never disappeared into anonimity after “Dying”. Not everything on “Survival Mode” is new. ‘The Weird Ways’ and ‘Scorn’ are regular bonus tracks, whereas the Obituary cover ‘Godly Beings’, previously unreleased track ‘Paralyzed’ and the re-recording of ‘Dogmas Ignored’ from the pre-Anasarca outfit Vomiting Corpses were pulled from the “Dying” sessions in 2004.

The most obvious question, of course, is - how does Anasarca sound after such a long hiatus? Pretty much the way they’ve always sounded: American brutality (in the vein of Hate Eternal circa “Conquering the Throne”) coupled with a Swedish sense of melody that’s closer to Dismember than it is to any of the classic Gothenburg bands. Anasarca is very much death metal in the traditional sense. “Survival Mode” does not waste time with ornamental niceties and cosmetic trivialities nor does it concern itself with modernities on any front. For the most part it looks and sounds just the way you’d want Anasarca to sound in this day and age. Cementing further links to the band’s past is the artwork from Robert Sindermann and the band have kept their association with producer/engineer Cord Hanken and his Art Temple Studio. Anasarca plays death metal, pure and simple. “Survival Mode” is refreshingly without pretense and without any of ailments of more contemporary releases.

Is there still a place for Anasarca in a scene that has scene grown exponentially with the likes of Defeated Sanity, Despondency, Necrophagist and Obscura? Anasarca comes from an older generation of death metal when the likes of Blood, Fleshcrawl, Protector, and Purgatory reigned supreme. “Survival Mode” is not about to rewrite the book on traditional death metal nor does it pretend to. Anasarca has always been more feeling than about technical mastery and showmanship. As such “Survival Mode” is a rousing success. It succeeds in what it sets out to do and frequently surpasses expectations. Nobody had imagined that Anasarca would ever awaken from their hiatus anyway. “Survival Mode” is testament to Dormann’s will to survive no matter what the circumstances. Lesser bands would’ve thrown in the towel years ago, but not Dormann. Like the events he describes in his lyrics, Anasarca thrives on trial and tribulation. One can only wonder what the future will bring for this long-suffering German act. Hopefully more music.

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“The Lost Conveyance”, the third Caedere album since their formation in 1998, has the band maturing musically and lyrically. Adopting scathing socio-political subject matter, and further embracing its musicality along with its increasing technical skill. “The Lost Conveyance” merges old – and new genre traits and is helped by a meatier, concrete production, and abstract artwork. For all intents and purposes “The Lost Conveyance” is the most conceptually complete Caedere record up to this point, and their best to date.

That isn’t to say that Caedere (Latin for “to kill”) completely overhauled its sound on this third outing. It is the completion of an evolution that dates back to its 2009 album “Clones Of Industry”, which was itself quite more ambitious than its “Mass Emission” debut. However said evolution never truly manifested itself in the way it does here. Where in the past Caedere sounded like an utterly massive Severe Torture (Hammerheart Records era) clone with its third album the Morbid Angel influence is far more pronounced. The Stockholm melodies have been toned down, and the whole bathes in an aura similar to Morbid Angel’s “Gateways to Annihilation” and Lost Soul’s “Chaostream”. In the past Caedere could be accused of blasting incessantly, but everything is better balanced compositionally on “The Lost Conveyance” than ever before with prior recordings.

‘Against Better Judgement’ sounds as something off “Gateways to Annihilation” before the acceleration in the last minute and a half. ‘Union Of Substitutes’ has some very prominent bass licks, and multiple esoteric solos through out its duration. ‘Facing Reality’ has guest vocals by Mike Hrubovcak (Divine Rapture, Monstrosity, Vile). ‘Conveyance Lost’ is an acoustic guitar interlude in the 90s death metal tradition. The more deliberately paced nature of the songs should facilitate Caedere with the room, and breathing space to integrate a few more guitar – or bass solos in future material. Given the evolution the band went through in the years between both albums it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Caedere embrace its musicality even further. On the whole the material on “The Lost Conveyance” sounds a lot more controlled, better paced, and more importantly, better written than anything this band has done before.

The lyrics are intelligently written scathing examinations of contemporary society, anonym yet global, consumption – and greed driven above all else. While the lyrics spew righteous indignation at its chosen subject, they refrain from falling into expletives and insults despite its obvious frustration, and irritation with the accepted and seldomly questioned status quo. The move away from the tired and tiring gore – and into more relatable socio-political criticism is a decision that should be commended. It is always more interesting to read about subjects bands are passionate about instead of dwelling on subjects that they are supposed to write about. “The Lost Conveyance” further explores the thematic premiered on “Clones Of Industry”, and hopefully Caedere continues to explore this subject matter on future output. It certainly is far more interesting that than the gore, and mindless blasphemy that perseveres in the genre.

maxresdefaultUnlike a lot of others Caedere understands the importance of bottom-end heaviness, and “The Lost Conveyance” has an incredible crunch in regards to its concrete bass guitar and kickdrum tone, even though the snares and toms sounded better on prior records. In fact the drum tone seems to be on the only strike against “The Lost Conveyance”. Jarno Olinga proves to be a suitable replacement for original drummer Sjoerd Modderkolk as far as intensity is concerned, but doesn’t quite possess the creative chaos that Modderkolk provided behind the kit. Michiel Lankhorst is the Dutch equivalent of fomer Morbid Angel - and current Warfather vocalist Steve Tucker, or former Monstrosity frontman Jason Avery - ravagingly intense and fittingly commanding within the context of their respective bands, but regrettably forgettable outside of it also.

On all fronts that matter “The Lost Conveyance” represents a major leap forward with Caedere sidestepping the obvious rakes, and limitations of the death metal genre – instead pushing forwards towards something more musical, more technical, and more conceptually ambitious. The wonderful artwork by Noisecraft embraces an old school aesthetic lost on most contemporary acts in this genre. It’s hard to believe that no other label imprint was interested in this Caedere effort outside of the bottom-feeding Sevared Records, and its liege of dubious signees. If there was any justice in the industry this would have been released through Willowtip, or New Standard Elite. The improved distribution should help Caedere in terms of visibility on the North American continent.

Caedere has undergone an interesting evolution over its three records. “The Lost Conveyance” is the farthest the band has pushed its sound to date. With an interesting lyrical concept, and the willingness to push its sound into more traditional realms this third record marks a tipping point for the Dutchmen. Caedere’s unwillingness to compromise its vision for commercial considerations speaks volumes to its strength of character, and headstrong belief in the quality of its wares. Hopefully the band will push farther into this direction, and unleash its blooming potential within the next few years. Maybe they’ll even find a label partner willing to give them the required push to reach the next level within the industry. One thing is certain: a mark has been made…