In addition to being one of the most important prime movers in the early death metal scene, Cancer generally tends to be one of the most misunderstood, at least in terms of their earliest offerings. Much has been made about how they pushed the envelope in a way not really experienced in the earlier days of death metal when it was still tied more closely to its thrash roots (think early Sepultura and Death's first few albums), but with this has come an implicit impression that their efforts paved the way for what became the brutal character of the later 90s. Cancer presents something that is by all means intense, horrific, and worthy of an elongated screaming fit, but also something that is about as closely tied to their own mid 80s thrash metal roots as Death's "Leprosy", with a touch more sludge and nastiness to their production that is along somewhat similar lines to Autopsy. In other words, the grind-inspired blasting mayhem of "Altars Of Madness" and the extremely guttural gurgles of Deicide's formative albums is not to be found in Cancer's early days, particularly in the case of their rightly lauded "To the Gory End". Nevertheless, it should be noted that by 1990 an album like this was definitely on the highest echelon in terms of intensity and aggression, it just wasn't quite to where Suffocation would be one year later, or where Morbid Angel had gotten to at around the same time. Arguably the most unique aspect of this album is how short the individual songs are, in spite of coming off as longer than they actually are given the characteristically rapid switches between fast and slow that defines their formula. Be it the punishingly slow elements at play on "Witch Hunt" that play off on a faster element that is pretty close to the chaotic elements of "South Of Heaven" and "Reign In Blood", or the generally fast and occasionally tremolo based work heard on "Into The Acid" and "C.F.C", the ongoing formula speaks heavily to an extreme dichotomy between doom and thrash metal that was not widely heard of. But the most wickedly exhilierating example of this effective use of extremes in tempo change matched with a muddy, vile guitar tone is heard on the slow trudging turned frenzied monster of a song "Die Die". Matching together the intense switches in fast and slow often finds one seeing the album cover. It's definitely an essential piece of the early death metal puzzle that no fan of the genre should be without, and one that will probably appeal as much to those who took to the outer fringes of the 80s thrash scene, particularly the mid to late 80s work of Slayer and Possessed. Even after more than 2 decades of genre expansion, this beast can still send chills down the bones of any that cross its auditory path. Good job Cyclone Empire for this killer release, also features 2 bonus tracks from their 89' demo. Cancer Fucking Cancer!!!
Review by Paul Caravasi