Cerebral Cortex: Synthetic Plague

Cerebral Cortex
Synthetic Plague

Independent Release
Released: 11/3/2023

I recently found Cerebral Cortex through the HMS Instagram page. I loved the band name and that disgustingly putrid looking cover caught my eye right away. I went straight to their bandcamp page and gave a listen to all the songs. I was presently surprised with what I heard, so I did some online research to find out more info on the band.

Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, they play a mixture of styles ranging from death, experimental, deathcore, progressive and djent. I love music that straddles across genres with the intent to challenge your ears and get you all charged up with the fist pumping and moshing mad urges. On their bandcamp page they list themselves as an experimental metal band that strive to create a unique sound with a variety of influences to keep you (the listeners) on their toes.

Well shoot; that's one mighty fine mission statement in and of itself. So knowing that, I was even more intrigued when I started going through the nine songs that make up Synthetic Plague. This is their first full length release and it's a whopper from start to finish.

We open with "Synthetic Plague" to the feeling of a drug induced serum being injected into the back of your head. Then the guitars kick in and it's followed by some raw scrubbed vocals that sound so rabid. The track extends to about three and a half minutes and it ebbs and flows with the guitar flourishes until it fades out. Just like that we are done, but the reprieve is so short when "C.U.E" roars to life with another furious entropy of rabid vocals and bounding guitars. The neat trick here is how the clean vocals sneak in and really give this track that added extra punch.

Again the track fades out to the sounds of a distant chime, only to herald in more mellow guitars to introduce the next track "Chicanery". The vocals are death metal growls that shutter into raspy shrieks at times, but again the clean vocals follow right behind. I love the approach with a prong of vocal styles set to mellifluous sounding guitars to accent it all. This is followed by noodling guitars and ringing phones; strung together like a drug hazed Zappa recording session. The death metal growls erupt next and we're off to the races with "Swarm the Earth" as track number four. The biggest shock here is the introduction to the saxophone just past the two minute mark and the return of more guitar noodles providing your ears with an array of progressive sounds. Everything is scatological when the raspy growls return to make this an interesting listen.

Some might find this a little exasperating, but I like metal that will get you out of your comfort zone. A good case in point is the next track "Museum of Hatred" that runs shrill vocals against some off-kilter harmonies. It's a steady-eddy kind of track and slots in nicely half-way through. "The Ringmaster" is a lot of fun. It bounces around ferociously between rabid barks and clean singing and it's wedged into this playful beat that packs a big wallop, along with those hideously sounding vocals. I really dug this track a whole lot.

The shortest track "7th Sense" sticks to off-kilter harmonies and remains punchy for close to three minutes of run time. I really like the guttural vocals and jittery nature of "Omission" and how the later half of the song is layered with more guitar noodling. The final track "Prevalence of Solitude" picks up the pace and spews forth disgusting sounding vocals, but falls back into clean singing; adding some nice progressive tones into the mix. Again, the vocals stand out hard on this track and it's one of the unique aspects I dig with this band.

I really have to give props to vocalist Zion Bittenbender. Not only does he have one heck of a cool sounding name, but the dude can bark, shriek and growl with the best of them. He's the big star here; while trading off well with the clean vocals provided by guitarist Jeremy Wodarski. Everyone else in the band join in on the frantic proceedings and add in the progressive vibes and off-kilter histrionics throughout the nine tracks.

You can't wrong with the template that is Cerebral Cortex; however the music could be more spastic in spots. A couple of tracks were just ok, but my ears are trained to pick out the experimentation and general weirdness in each song, so I was continuously entertained. I see a bright future ahead for these boys and I wish them the best of luck on future releases. I will be waiting for more Cerebral Cortex.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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More band info here:

Cerebral Cortex are a Toledo-based Experimental Metal Band. They strive to create a unique metal sound with a vast variety of influences to keep listeners on their toes. Their lyrics mostly depict the human psyche and what drives some of the most heinous of us to commit atrocities.