When a death metal or black metal band uses keyboards extensively, it often means that the band isn't about bombast for the sake of bombast and favors nuance, intricacy, craftsmanship and melody along with aggression and loudness. In extreme metal, keyboards are frequently synonymous with melodic death metal and symphonic black metal, both of which emphasize musicality rather than adhering to a go-for-the-jugular policy 100-percent of the time. But on Urban Cancer, the extensive use of keyboards doesn't do a lot to soften the ferocious black metal and death metal blows of the Canada-based Nefastus Dies; when all is said and done, this album will be remembered for viciousness rather than nuance. This 2008 release offers a black metal/death metal mixture that is more black metal than death metal, although death metal is certainly an important part of the equation. Lead vocalist Ill-Fate fluctuates between black metal's wicked rasp and death metal's Cookie Monster growl, sometimes drifting into metalcore-ish screaming, and much of the time, he makes a point of being as abrasive as possible. Vocally, Ill-Fate usually thrives on harshness, while keyboardist Iraabbas adds an atmospheric element to the picture; Urban Cancer ends up having a certain amount of moodiness but never fails to be a nasty, clobbering sledgehammer of a CD. However, the moodiness doesn't mean that Nefastus Dies are nearly as musical as Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth on the black metal side or At the Gates, Opeth, or In Flames on the death metal side. Nefastus Dies are hardly the only people with this type of sound, and quite frankly, most of the tunes on this album aren't terribly memorable. Nonetheless, Urban Cancer has its moments, and the best parts of the 49-minute disc indicate that listeners should at least keep an eye on Nefastus Dies and see what develops in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson