Spinal Cord

Remedy

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Like techno, free jazz, and dancehall, death metal/black metal is something of an inside joke that outsiders have a hard time comprehending. Those who don't understand death metal/black metal will hear a Cannibal Corpse CD and ask the same question that free jazz's opponents asked the first time they heard Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, or post-1965 John Coltrane: how, in God's name, do people listen to this stuff? And, of course, that's exactly what moshers in the death metal/black metal underground want them to say -- it reinforces the outsider status that they crave. Remedy, the first full-length album by Poland's Spinal Cord, is unlikely to win over anyone who has resisted death metal in the past; this CD reinforces the idea that death metal is an exercise in bombast for the sake of bombast -- that it is harsh, abrasive, and unmusical. But for those who do have a taste for extreme metal, Remedy is one of the better sounding, better produced, better played death metal recordings of the early 2000s. No, Remedy isn't melodic; Spinal Cord goes for the jugular, and they do it without mercy. But the fact that they can play their instruments fairly well makes them a cut above a lot of similar bands. In contrast to all the death metallers who have played at the same tempo (ultrafast) 100 percent of the time, these Polish headbangers have no problem changing tempos frequently -- and by occasionally hinting at power metal and even progressive rock, Spinal Cord seems to be pointing out that they aren't without technical skills. But when all is said and done, Remedy isn't about musicality -- it's about the pure, raw, over-the-top exhilaration. In its own way, Remedy is like a wrestling match, a trashy episode of Days of Our Lives, or a campy '50s horror movie -- it isn't Mozart, but despite its limitations, it's good for some enjoyably cheap thrills.

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