Grand Cadaver is one of those bands that is rather unknown due to mainstream media ignorance and not as much hype as some of the other artists out there, but those who know Dark Tranquility have probably kept close tabs on the members and their other projects. Grand Cadaver formed in 2020 namely by Mikael Stanne (vocals) and Christian Jansson (bass) of Dark Tranquility along with Daniel Liljekvist of Ambassadors of the Sun (drums), Stefan Lagergren of The Grifted (guitars), and Alex Stjernfeldt (Let Them Hang) to create something different from their other projects. While Stanne’s name probably garnered the most attention, it should be noted that those expecting a Dark Tranquility Melodeath approach (like Stanne’s more recent project The Halo Effect was and fans were very divided on it) are going to be sorely disappointed. Grand Cadaver is a travel back in time to the more Old School Swedish Death Metal approach from the late 90s and early 2000s. From the buzz saw approach of the guitars especially and throaty snarls (with nearly no cleans) one should expect a cross between Bloodbath and Dismember. Their first album was blazing fury with ‘Into the Maw of Death,’ so the question is will ‘Deities of Deathlike Sleep’ follow suite like a good Cannibal Corpse album or will Cadaver stretch out a bit into unknown territory?
As said before, expect very limited influences from Dark Tranquility here. Tracks like ‘The Forever Doom’ stomp and steamroll with a bit of groove but that fuzzy buzz of Grave and Dismember pretty much reigns supreme over the throaty snarls from Stanne (which sound a lot like his older Dark Tranquility days versus his more modern roar). The thing listeners will be pleased to hear is that despite the old school touches, the production is still very clean so the bass and drums are very audible along with everything else. Nothing seems lost in the mix, making for a ‘remastered nostalgic trip’ into some of the more beloved sounds of the late 90s, but not having that too hazy cloud of distortion with it to smudge things out. Other tracks like ‘Serrated Jaws’ take a different route and slow things down for a more Doom driven approach and even some of the guitar melodies have that Dark Tranquility touch to them, adding some gothic element to the music. This is where Grand Cadaver kind of experiment a but, but don’t quite stray from their core sound too much to start alienating fans or making people thing it is another modern Melodeath project.
For those looking for a trip as far away as Dark Tranquility as one can get, tracks like ‘Vortex of Blood’ has plenty of groove and stomp that will herald to the likes of Obituary with a little bit more of a Thrash influence, but the drums here are insane, pummeling, and right where they need to be. The guitars chug with the bass along Stanne’s throaty bellows, and it just fits Grand Cadaver’s approach; the only downside is it is a very short song. Opposite to it, the likes of ‘Funeral Reversal’ is as much as a trip towards Old School Swedish Death Doom metal with its crawling harsh tones, guitar whines, and reeks of more recent Bloodbath elements. Still, it is a fun track to headbang too as it goes back and forth between its fast and slow moments. Those who want a true oozing Death Metal track will enjoy ‘True Necrogeny’ as it brings back the wistful melodies and just creeps along with that thick buzz saw sound. The bass does tend to get lost in the pounding rhythms, but the drums are solidly percussive and Stanne sounds vengeful as he can be as his vocals spew forth the rage and grime of the track. For those who felt Grand Cadaver were just trying to emulate some of the likes of Exhumed or Autopsy on their previous album, this track shows they are willing to tweak things in a slightly different direction, but maintain the course.
While Grand Cadaver may not appeal to those who like the more melodic side of Death Metal, those who were looking for a change from Stanne and crews’ harsh vocal, clean chorus backed by melodic guitars and keyboards’ approach will find ‘Deities of Deathlike Sleep’ very enjoyable and just a groove laden ride. Though there is that piano outro to ‘Necrosanctum’ mixed with the shouted vocals, but that is about as ‘modern Melodeath’ as things will get for Grand Cadaver. It isn’t quite Death and Roll like Six Feet Under or Torture Killer, but the songs have plenty of killer groove to it. This album doesn’t quite roar like the debut, but it hisses and whispers and them blasts listeners with that Death Metal fury that one can certainly enjoy. More variety here than the first effort, and with worthy productions to boot this album should appeal to any who enjoy Death Metal in general- melodic or non melodic- while they get to hear a heavier side of what some of the members of Dark Tranquility can unleash when given the right outlet.