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Review: Cannae, Gold Becomes Sacrifice (Prosthetic, 2005)

I think this might be the first time I've ever actually heard Cannae. I remember way back when their first record came out on East Coast Empire right before the label suddenly vanished into thin air, and I think I just never paid attention to the band as a result of that for whatever reason. Well, whatever the case, this is a pretty god damn good record that really took me by surprise on the initial listen with its breakneck attack of old school thrash metal given a modern facelift with some crushing metalcore types of rhythmic breaks as well as energetic picking patterns and speeds more reminiscent of death metal that draws from only vague hints at the melodic Swedish style. And honestly, I'm thoroughly pleased to say that even when these guys hit on that particular vein on rare occasion, the riffing is pretty damn top-notch. There's just a lot of intensity here that really packs more of a punch than I had anticipated. "Indemnity" has a chunkier undercurrent to it that hits on a few killer chugging passages, "Marked by Monuments" contains some Death-esque dual guitar interaction that messes with the time signatures a little bit, and there are even some acoustic guitars during the laidback instrumental interlude "Collapse". "Audience of the Unspoken" opens with some interesting dissonant riffing and spoken vocals and also uses some cool basslines that have a different feel than most of what's offered in that department herein; and "Bastinado" uses some atypical picking patterns and chord phrasings to change things up quite effectively before dropping an awesome guest solo by the one and only James Murphy. And this brings me to an important point: More solos! Seriously, there are only like three or four solos on the entire record, two of which are guest spots (producer Jason Suecof provides the lead break in the speedy and damn near black metal influenced "Acts of False Signals"), but they all kick ass and really add to the songs - best exemplified by the fiery opener "Rats, Snakes and Thieves", which contains what is probably the best damn solo of the disc! The production's pretty tight, with a really crisp guitar tone that harnesses a well controlled distortion that's heavy without lacking clear definition, and the same can be said for the ferocity of the screaming/snarling vocals - which are also surprisingly clear and dominant without overpowering the music. I wouldn't mind hearing the vocals fall back in against the guitars just a hint more in favor of giving the basslines a more obvious presence in the mix, but aside from the fact that the drums aren't quite robust or warm enough for me this fucker sounds pretty powerful. The layout looks fairly good, too. I much prefer the photographs that don't have the central human figure involved, but whatever the case there's some cool imagery and the text is all nice and clean. Lyrically the content seems to walk a wide range of topics, all of which are presented in a manner that keeps things open for the listener, while at times more openly hinting at larger commentary on outside issues: "It was faith that was so hard to believe, Love in his life was nothing short of disease, Attraction to repulsion - he continued to walk from death, Forbidding himself to take his own last breath…" Not too shabby. In fact, these fuckers could give The Haunted a run for their money in terms of overall ferocity as it pertains to contemporary takes on classic thrash metal in the way that they amp everything up with all of the death metal and subtle hardcore attributes. I won't be surprised if I start hearing more and more about these guys in the coming year… Well done.

[Prosthetic]
Running time - 38:08, Tracks: 10
[Notable tracks: Rats, Snakes and Thieves, Indemnity, Bastinado, Acts of False Signals]
Prosthetic Records - http://www.prostheticrecords.com