Cartilage released a demo titled ‘It’s Necrotic’ on June 14th that was recorded somewhere in the depths of their San Francisco locale. Just looking at the artwork, you can tell that this aural experience is either going to be one of the worst or one of the best things to ever happen to you. After listening to it a few times, a few words that come to mind to describe the band’s release are: gory, grindy, gross, garbled, ghastly, and most of all, great. I have to admit, the art and titles on the three song release had me a little worried. I was not sure whether I’d be confronted and assaulted by yet another joking death metal rip off band trying to mess around and profit off of it – but, alas, I can thoroughly say that I enjoyed the lo-fi approach and the overall quality of their ability as instrumentalists and vocalist. This was definitely a time where the meter leaned closer to one of the best things to listen to. Their talent is absolutely and undeniably prevalent in this start to what is sure to be a fun run.
As soon as you start the first song, “Cannot Stop The Clot,” you’re bombarded with a piercing snare count-off into one of the most brutal opening riffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of circle headbanging my little heart out to. Once you have the smarts to hold on to the seat of your pants, the song does everything within its power to remind listeners of 80s death metal – and I assure you that it’s in the best way. The vocal tones used are so vastly different from line to line and verse to verse (whatever type of blood-laden, intestine-grilling lyrics they may be spewing out of your speakers) that it becomes an almost bounce between the harsh, direct gutturals and the fleeting, shrieking, almost crusty highs. It is, quite honestly, a wonderful time trying to decipher the words and trying to find places to whisper along to after a couple listens. Adding to that bobbing of your head and tapping of your foot, the practically thrash-worshiping guitars (bass included) and the fast paced d-beat drumming send the mind spinning. It is constant and exacted freshness that only gets more enjoyable the more it’s played.
The death waltz creases around the one minute and five second mark, before turning into a speedy grind bout that spirals around the inside of your head into folds of your brain you weren’t too sure existed before you listened. The fleeting highs of the previous sixty seconds make themselves front and center in a display of true power, range and actualization. It’s impressive, and when the song goes back to its riffing repetition of the first bit for the remainder of the song, a new level of respect is reached for this band’s mixing work before the last couple crescendos of phlegm-hacking hisses.
When “El Necrocabra” kicks in, you feel the same sense of thrashy fun is about to ensue, with the first riff until the foot of speed plants the heel of its boot directly onto your forehead and pushes hard. The song evolves into a cacophonous grind symphony. The guitars are merciless, the bass is downright threatening, and the drums are aggressive beyond belief. The song maintains the speed for a while before having its own little interlude of the replayed intro riffs into another swell of speed and dreams. In this song, instead of the guitars shredding out death metal riffs for you to harrow about unrequited love to, the vocals are what is doing the shredding. The ferocity the listeners receive of these almost fry screams sashaying into growls and lows that I’m pretty sure belong to some type of creature like a Necrocabra. It’s a solid track and definitely got me excited for the closer of the demo.
Finally, to round out the demo, Cartilage close with what I think is their strongest track. “Dialect Of The Dead” is easily a death metal infused grindcore song for the ages. Starting with the small, tasteful amount of feedback into an onslaught of cymbal clangs and double bass pedals that could probably vibrate my chest without having to make the cross country drive to see them live. The vocal overlays in this song specifically are at their prime. The growls shadowing the shrieks give it that truly evil feeling, like the echoing voiceovers in paranormal slasher movies where someone gets possessed. The d-beat intensifies in this song’s drum work, with the few spurts of blast beat action my soul goes on for. The work is complex without trying too hard to outdo itself or be ridiculous, and that gives it just the right balance of beginning band and previous work for this. That sickeningly crusty vocal style continually grows on me and becomes one with the instrumental tracks where the battering guitars with the truly slapping bass all raise hell in such an effective and direct way that the thought of the dead talking is prevalent. There’s no point in the song where it slows down, just where there’s a guitar solo for those sliding mute waves around the two minute and fifteen second mark, which offers no transition back into the hell storm of flying notes swirling in the air like unleashing bats in a cave. In this song, Cartilage truly focuses on the death grind label they give themselves and offer what could be massively appealing if they expanded.
Luckily, Cartilage is just starting off. Their demo is name your price on Bandcamp, and they definitely have the talent and energy to be in your music library. I can easily envision this band out on tour with the likes of Noisem and Iron Reagan, slamming faces and making ears ring. There are a lot of potential directions for the band to go in, and this demo shows that they should be pretty awesome regardless of which path they take. I’m definitely excited to see what they push out later and you can keep up with them at: