CANCER — Shadow Gripped (review)

CANCER — Shadow Gripped album cover Album · 2018 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
"Shadow Gripped" is the 6th full-length studio album by UK death/thrash metal act Cancer. The album was released through Peaceville Records in November 2018. B>Cancer formed in 1987 and were part of the early UK death metal scene along with artists like Carcass, Benediction, and Bolt Thrower. They released four studio albums before disbanding in 1996. They reunited in 2003 and released the "Corporation$" EP in 2004, and the full-length studio album "Spirit in Flames" in 2005. Cancer disbanded again in 2006, but reunited once more in 2013.

So "Shadow Gripped" is the second comeback album Cancer have released in their career. "Spirit in Flames (2005)" didn´t exactly stir up the ocean, so it´s probably taken the band a few years to lick their wounds and come up with a new comeback plan. Lineup wise "Shadow Gripped" features the original three-piece lineup, who recorded the band´s debut album back in 1990: John Walker (vocals, guitars), Carl Stokes (drums), and Ian Buchanan (bass).

Stylistically it´s also an obvious stab at going back to the roots, as Cancer play a pretty basic death metal style with the occasional thrash metal leanings. It´s not exactly "To the Gory End (1990)" number two though, and it´s audible that a lot of water has run under the bridge since the early beginnings of the band. "Shadow Gripped" features a dark and not very dynamic sound production, and the fierceness and brutality of the early releases of the band aren´t present here. Or at least only in small doses. "Shadow Gripped" does feature some catchy moments (particularly the shout/growl along choruses on seveal of the tracks), but overall it comes off a bit flat and uninteresting.

I know words like those read really negative, and they of course aren´t meant as positives, but it shouldn´t be read as if "Shadow Gripped" is a bad quality release, because it certainly isn´t. It´s just not a death metal release which stands out in the vast number of releases which come out every year, and considering the legendary status of a band like Cancer I simply expect more from them. It shouldn´t come as a surprise of course, as Cancer have changed their style with each release though the years, and not always with great end results. "Shadow Gripped" is more interesting than its direct predecessor, but doesn´t reach the quality of the band´s early output and therefore a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
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