Cabinet – Claustrophobic Dysentery
Blackened death metal from the inside of a rotting coffin (and also California, US)
Releasing March 30 via Bloody Mountain Records
Some people like their metal lively and uplifting, with plaintive melodies, driving riffs, and solos that soar on eagle wings above inspiring rhythm sections. This album is not for those people. This is for the folks who want their listening experience to leave them feeling like they’ve just been waterboarded with the contents of an overflowing septic tank by the oozing husk of something out of a Cronenberg film. It’s the auditory equivalent of being drenched in the rotting entrails of a disease-ridden corpse. Sounds like a fun time, yeah?
This is Cabinet, a project that makes precisely zero bones about its musical goals: to be disgusting to a nauseating degree. The promo kit made me pull out a goddamn dictionary, because I didn’t know what “seplophobic” meant. I’m sure you’re curious, too, so here’s the answer: seplophobia is the fear of decaying matter. The music embodies the idea of oppressive, moldering filth via a massively saturated mix that’s murky as a cesspool and guitars downtuned and fuzzed out to a preposterous degree. The tracks are full of noise and noxious atmosphere, built to overwhelm the senses in the service of ugliness and rot.
There’s quite a bit of putrid riffage going on in Claustrophobic Dysentery, this project’s second release (after the delightfully-named Decomposing Hexahedronic Seplophobia EP). The malodorous atmosphere and scowl-inducing grime is always first and foremost, but the musical substance isn’t an afterthought. At the mold-infested base of Cabinet’s sound are rock-solid death riffs tinged with doom that carve a stank-face inducing furrow into the muck, and a massive rhythm section consisting of absurdly distorted bass and kick-your-face-in drums that are usually blasting. Add in gurgling guttural death growls partially submerged in the sludge, so low and retching it sounds like the vocalist is vomiting his own intestines, eerie clean guitar lines in the upper background, and a host of unnerving and claustrophobic sounds and ambient effects, and you’ve got the full filmy flask of frothing filth.
Surprisingly enough, there’s a decent amount of variety from track to track, from form to length to overall style. Opener “Claustrophobic Dysentery Excreted from the Chiffonier” is a relatively straightforward affair, with a grinding repeated riff that descends over and over again, developing bit by bit toward a solo and then an extended doomy passage with shades of diSEMBOWELMENT. Four of the next five tracks are shorter than three minutes, and the whole sequence feels a bit like a gallery of sordid paintings in some hellish museum; each feels like a scene or a moment more than a “song” in the typical sense. “Bacteremiactic Basement Dweller (…in the Corner)”, for example, contains about a minute and a half of actual music, which is mostly ghastly soloing over frantic blast beats and inhuman growls, and its ending with a biohazard klaxon blaring is damn creepy. “Lilliputian Flicker of Fascioliasis” is a miniature death/doom diseasescape, “Epidermal Appliance Escritoire” is three minutes of pounding blackened death from hell, “Obesogenic Decomposition” spends two thirds of its runtime in noisy deathgrind territory, and so on.
The back half of the album, though, is its strongest. From the uncomfortably matter-of-fact delivery of the scientist in the audio sample that closes “Equanimitical MIcrodecay” to the portentously slow fade-in that opens stygian track “Hallway of Dacryocystotomic Decay” to the grating uncomfortable buzz that starts the climactic “Eternally Pendulemic Flourescent Bulb / Deteriorating Interminably” to the disquieting calm and then frightening harsh noise that wraps the record in “Outro (Foul Structural Rot)”, the permeating pallor of puke-drenched panic seems to creep in from the edges at all times. “Eternally…” has some monster riffs, pounding walls of sinking madness and nasty pinch harmonics that will make Cerebral Rot fans happy.
The gentleman responsible for purverying this profusion of putrefactive putrescence is known as Repulsive Dirtnap Casket Crusher, which…seems appropriate, I think. It’s possible that he may also be Matthew Schott, of Sxuperion and Valdur, who owns Bloody Mountain Records, the Mammoth-based label that’s releasing Claustrophobic Dysentery, but who’s to say? There’s little that’s human about Cabinet’s approach anyways; it’s all bacteria and mold and sewage and the skulking insanity that presses in with every moment you’re trapped inside.
So no, this record isn’t for everyone. Absolutely not. The noisy-as-hell mix and the over-distorted approach to the guitars are enough to blur much of the texture together—definitely an intentional choice—and there’s no question that the fetid blanket of rotting growth that covers everything creates something of a sameness across the tracks. And if you like to, you know, really hear the vocals, you’ll be shit out of luck, because Mr. Crusher’s retching delivery is totally unintelligible and often partially obscured by all of the everything that is Cabinet’s aesthetic. It’s a mood, an aesthetic, to be sure, for the enjoyer of the execrable and few others.
THE BOTTOM LINE
By all means, give Claustrophobic Dysentery a spin when it drops on March 30. Give it several, even. Just make sure that you give that cover art a good, long look before you dive in, because that swill-infested miasma of maggots and malodorous mold is a great encapsulation of what you’ll find once you wade in. You’ll probably be more pestilence than person when you return, but that’s what you want, right?