'It’s not adult to have a favorite band. Favorite bands lead to posters. They lead to notebook margin doodling. They lead to t-shirts and favorite song lists and silly rationalizations. When I was 10, my favorite band was Kiss. At 11, it was Guns ‘n’ Roses. 12 was Metallica, 13 and 14 were Nirvana and 15 was Fugazi, who remained my favorite band until I stopped even thinking about musicians and groups in such a way, most likely because after moving away for university I found myself in the city, with a good community radio station, two or three decent record stores and a new group of friends, all of which were responsible for exposing me to so much new music that I had trouble enough remembering what each new band sounded like let alone deciding which one was my new favorite. But maybe it was because I was growing up, slowly coming to the realization that the bands you worship never actually know that you do, so you might as well save your energy and just love the music.
That all changed this summer when Cephalic Carnage came through town. (Let me just say that any band that considers itself either important or dedicated will tour across Canada. The Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, the Melvins, Superchunk, Pavement and the Jesus Lizard have all made the trip.) They were absolutely stunning -- bracingly intense, energetic, funny and strange -- and for all of about 60 people. Their playing was nothing short of inspiring, a whirlwind cacophony of hyperblast grind, un-retarded sludge, uber-retarded technicality, mellow jazz and black metal; their stage presence was at once that of a band headed for greatness and that of five geeks no different from the few dozen guys who came out to see them. They slayed, and after the show, talking to these dudes -- and that’s what they are: just dudes, guys who choose to engulf themselves in good music, good pot and good people -- their enthusiasm for what they do and their appreciation for every kind word was frightening. They chatted to people about everything -- dope, the shirts people were wearing, the band’s future (which was then a string of high profile tours with Kreator, Nile and Cannibal Corpse) -- and this was all at about 1:00 a.m., when they should have been loading out and readying themselves for the seven hour drive to Calgary they had to make that night. After I told him that I was convinced Cephalic was in for a big year and that they deserve every good thing that was about to happen to them, their bass player, Jawsh, who for most of the band’s set scowled, moved robotically around the stage while handling the band’s monstrous low vocals, grabbed my hand, pulled me in and hugged me.
So I have a new favorite band, and they have a relatively new c.d., Halls of Amenti, one 19-minute, ultra-slow doom metal dirge which, while a new experiment for Cephalic Carnage, is as good and cool and infectious and addictive as anything they’ve ever done. A demonic orgy attended by the Melvins, My Dying Bride and Sleep, a heavily nuanced exercise in creative heaviness, another step in the right direction for a band that is no longer just brimming with potential, Halls of Amenti is proof that trying something different becomes easy when there are people in the middle of nowhere who believe in you.'