CANCERSLUG’s most recent offering, ROOTWORK, contains fifteen black / sex / blood / drug magick classics, perfect for night digging in graveyards and fukking the dead, beauty, brutality, reality, lycanthropic lusts and power, dread, self-loathing, and some of the most potent riffs they’ve laid down in years. Upon receiving this brilliant little package of powerhouse and real rock-n-roll, I could barely wait to hit play. I happen to think CANCERSLUG perhaps the only true rock-n-roll band out there right now, and they have been for quite some time. They play how they want, what they want, and fukk all else – – – the way os should be.
Since the earliest demo recordings roundabouts 1998, ALEX STORY has over the years indeed sluiced gallons of blood, sweat, tears, semen, and projected a quite rare and definitively unique lycanthropic charisma *(ie: by being himself), to have created and crafted something truly different and sonically potent, an ever-growing and morphing Lovecraftian beast of inhuman nightmares, red eyes, and gnashing teeth, coming at you in the darkness of your own soul, with a mind like a “40 megaton atom bomb” *(lyric from the song “Reflecting Skin,” NOT on this album, yet fitting nonetheless).
Since the 1999 full length WHORE, CANCERSLUG has gone through many, many a member change, ALEX often doing multi-instrumentalist duty, or even playing all instruments himself. Each subsequent CANCERSLUG album from then on had a different ‘theme’ of sorts *(for lack of a better word at the moment), all of them far deeper than what a standard listener will pick up on, and all with a different sound as well. Not even in the various multiple versions of songs over the years has there been any slacking or even repetition, each version slightly (sometimes greatly) altered to the point that you’re essentially listening to new songs.
And before I go any further, I’d like to add that while their songs do contain those beautifully twisted and horrific, astonishingly poetic lyrics that range from sarcastic gross-out humor to being deathly serious in their realism and sadism, to genuinely touching love songs *(but, hey, “They’re all love songs, baby”), played always with full-on power from the depths of their blackened souls; nary is there a lazy recording, a lazy version of a song, anywhere amongst the roundabouts count of close to, if not, four hundred songs in their repertoire, be they acoustic or electric. I’d really like to stress the fact they are NOT an “Horror Punk” band. It’s genuinely lived dark-punkmetal with various other elements and experimentations, and you never know quite what you’re going to get with any given CANCERSLUG song. There is a power and honesty in the sometimes triple-entendred, darkly brilliant *(and often straight-up funny – – – “Seaweed” is merely one example of that romanticomic brilliance to be found on ROOTWORK – – – but there is always an element of a truth of some kind to be had) prose of the lyrics.
Which brings me to their latest, 2015’s ROOTWORK Lp. This I would most definitely rank as being among their best *(my personal favorite’s are WHORE, THE BEAST WITH TWO BACKS, BY SPIRITS UNCLEAN, UNNAMEABLE, and I’d have to put ROOTWORK in there as well, also – – – oh hell, who am I kidding, I love all of it). The sound of this album is, like all the rest of the full lp’s in their lengthy catalog, born of its own unique style. There is a haunting reverb, and vibe, that permeates the entirety of ROOTWORK as a whole, giving the album a truly supernatural feel, as though they have indeed weaved their souls in with the mesh of that veil between worlds few would dare to lift. And the particular songs chosen / written for this album are absolutely perfect in their order, their presentation. “How To Die Inside,” a particularly potent song *(originally released on ALEX STORY’S “PULLING THE PLUG” series of acoustic recordings – – – disc “III” I believe), is given the full-on CANCERSLUG overhaul here, bringing the full realization of power to fruition in a way that can rarely be done. Same goes for “Dance Of The Damned” *(originally released on 2012’s scumfuc-punk heavy PUSSYTALK), some of the vocal harmonies and lyrics changed or rearranged here and there, but bringing out the truly ghastly side of the ghostly loneliness and acceptance thereof from a different perspective in it’s recording style and those small changes alone.
Two incredible songs, recorded and released initially by THE ULTRA CREEPS (ALEX & CASSIE performing under another name – – – essentially still CANCERSLUG), “Heartless” and “Venus Die Trap,” are faster here, performed with a reinvigorated intensity, pale-ing the originals *(which were in fact my favorite of THE ULTRA CREEPS, and even the CANCERSLUG demo versions) in comparison. The opener, “Leviathan,” is indeed just that here: an epic monster of an opener that glides seamlessly, screamingly into a faster paced and punched-up version of “Anathema.” “She Wolves” is also given a hyper-sexed up, slightly faster and cuttingly ferocious metallic guitar sound as well. The title-track, “Rootwork,” has very Samhain-esque sound to it, making for a perfect listen to acquire as this summer-of-shite finally draws to a slow close. In fact, the entirety of ROOTWORK captures that Halloween-ritual vibe to perfection. And not in some hokey novelty act kind of way. This is genuine, this is for real. ALEX, CASSIE, and the rest thrust their all right up deep inside rock-n-roll, impaling it, with the full power throttle of neck-breaking, ribcage snapping, entirely new songs like the blitzkrieg of “Make War Not Love,” the sexy-sinister “Born Of Death,” and bloodsoaked, lustful lycanthropic shiftings of “Wolfcraft.” Also, the rare “Infernal Orgasmic” is given a whirlwind update. The final song on the album, “Junkie,” is the perfect closer, and from what I understand, it was written impromptu in the studio and it was decided “Fukk it, this song rocks, let’s close with it.” Catchy, in your face, and about as real as real gets, with a unique delta-blues flourish to it that finishes the album on a note of perfection. *(Just as ROOTWORK may in fact be their own “November-Coming-Fire” within the pantheon of their material, “Junkie” just might be their “American Nightmare” – – – all metaphorically speaking, of corpse.) ROOTWORK doesn’t have the sheen of it’s predecessor, SEASONS OF SICKNESS, and on the whole I find it a better album all around. As I previously stated, this is a very haunting, haunted, hazy album that lures you in like a succubus to an opium den, and really needs to be experienced straight through, from beginning to end. Once there, you won’t want to leave.
ROOTWORK is a fukking great album. I’ve seen a couple of reviews here and there that actually have the balls to bitch about the “sound quality,” as well as the *(I think brilliant) low-key yet incredibly effective cover art, consisting of a pentagram made from hypodermic needles with the horned moon / lightning bolt CS insignia in the center, done up in a classic black and white presentation. Far more subtle in comparison to the overwhelming majority of their other album covers, it’s what fits the vibe of this odd, wonderful, one of a kind, and highly ritualistic album *(hence my previous comparison to SAMHAIN’S “N-V-C” – – – CANCERSLUG’S ROOTWORK is one of the very few albums to actually have such that unique, supernatural, caught between worlds sound and have it be a sound wholly unto itself and original, at that). And they not only know the “otherside,” they all too well know of and have experienced the griefs and scorching, scorning pain of merely existing on this plane, as well.
And the hardest working Werewolf in show business if FAR from being done. In fact, fifteen years and (at least) sixteen full lengths under their belt, it looks as if CANCERSLUG are only getting started. ALEX STORY not only writes and performs with CANCERSLUG (his main act), but is also the vocalist for DOYLE, the addition of ALEX having turned the rather limp GORGEOUS FRANKENSTEIN into the relentlessly brutal DOYLE, with whom a new album will be being released soon. ALEX STORY has also put out a 20 song disc of his completely solo project BORN IN ANGELS BLOOD, called SISTER LUCIFER: A BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR MASS SUICIDE *(and man, is it fukking good, nor quite like anything else you’ve heard before). In the past he’s released albums (or made guest appearances) with THE ANTI-HUMAN MOVEMENT, ALEX IN ASH, GUT BUCKET, as well as his PULLING THE PLUG series of acoustic albums, of which part “IV” will soon be being released. Add to that another DOYLE tour, and apparently a new CANCERSLUG album as well, to be titled BARELY LEGAL, FULLY DEAD – – – all this before 2015 is obliterated to the memoriam of time and memory and then eventually just another forgotten date, but for some of the great music that came from that loathsome year. And of course another CANCERSLUG tour for that album. That’s a mutherfukk-load of work, and the “WOLFMAN” ALEX STORY has earned it, and whatever debauchery it may bring.
CASSIE has her own history of various bands and upcoming projects as well. She was once lead vocalist for, and released a 7” ep with THE MINI SKIRT JERKS, and has her own current side project, THE DEVILS TEEF, who have some very cool material as well, and an official album in the works sometime soon. They did release a couple of demo ep’s, I believe THE SUPERMOON DEMOS, and DEVILS TEEF. From what I’ve heard from the demos alone, I’m looking forward to some kind of “official” release from them sometime soon as well.
And, just for the record, CANCERSLUG is the kind of thing you either get or you don’t. More than a band, they have the SLUGCULT, their rabid and ravenous fan base spread throughout the world. I for one am proud to consider myself a Sluggite. To those who get the band, this will make total sense to you. To those who do not, well, you’re hopeless. You should still check it out.
Either way, CANCERSLUG’S ROOTWORK is a forcefully sensual and true to the gut slab of gritty, majestic, occultic, death-culture rock-n-roll. Easily one of their best albums, and a sound towards which sounds they’ve been working naturally into. In all reality, there are no other bands that sound like them. And that, much like their own “She Wolves,” is a good thing.
Buy CANCERSLUG’S ROOTWORK, sit in a lightless room at dusk, and experience it for yourself. Let the Demons in – – – and let the Beast out.
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is firstname.lastname@example.org