Cenobite – The Black (05 July 2011)
Okay, first of all I feel like I need to clear this up right away: regardless of how it might sound, a “Cenobite” is not a unit for measuring computer memory. Don’t go into your local electronics store and try to buy a 50 Cenobite hard drive or something.
No, as my research has taught me, the word stems from the Greek roots κοινός (“common”) and βίος (“life”), and refers to individuals involved in the practice of communal living, as typified by Buddhist or Christian monks.
Researching a little bit further, I found that the name was also used for the race of formerly-human beings who live in an extra-dimensional void (but can be summoned to earth through a portal created by solving a complex puzzle-box) in the Hellraiser series of movies and comic books.
As I understand it, these creatures were named Cenobites because their apparently-religious-like devotion to hedonism and sadomasochism had ultimately transformed them into a state where they had completely lost all semblance of humanity, just like monks’ religious-like devotion to — well, to religion — inspires them to give up all earthly possessions and pleasures and enter a communal living environment. I guess.
I’d heard of the Hellraiser series before, but never actually knew anything about it until I read all this stuff earlier today. The funny thing is, the brief overview of the characters, and the synopsis of the first film’s plot that I read, both sounded awfully familiar to me — when I remembered that there was a Mortician song that incorporated a lengthy sample (as many of their songs do) where they talked about these demon-like beings who’d been summoned by using a box, and then they wanted to take somebody back to another dimension of hellish torture, someone who had escaped from their clutches previously. So I poked around a bit more, and found that the song “Hell on Earth” (from Zombie Apocalypse) did, in fact, make use of a sample from the original Hellraiser movie.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes a quick search on Wikipedia can turn into a whole chain of discovery?
Anyway, what originally led me to look up the word “Cenobite” in the first place was curiosity about the name of this British two-piece band, yet another recommendation which came to me from Ben of Church of the Riff. He called it “low-fi blackened thrash/doom, whatever. It sounds evil.”
That piqued my interest, to be sure. Later I saw the band’s The Black EP mentioned on Metal Bandcamp as well; there it was described using a haiku reprinted from The Living Doorway (a blog that I hadn’t previously been familiar with, so there’s something else cool that came out of this experience!)…
blackened thrash from hell
fifty percent instrumental
it’s totally weird, bro
Well, of course I had to download it and check it out. It was released just over a year ago, but it’s still available for free over at Bandcamp (see below for your chance to grab a copy).
Pain has a face. Allow me to show it to you.
It’s actually fortunate that I did spend so much time researching information, because I was able to recognize that the opening track, “Cenobite” is filled with references to the Hellraiser movies. It’s also full of — as promised — extremely lo-fi goodness. I’m fairly certain this was captured using a four-track cassette recorder, because you can almost hear the ‘click’ when the tape stopped and started, such as each time the vocals enter or at the beginning of the guitar solo near the end of the song.
That lo-fi-ness, combined with the buzzy and tremoloey guitars, definitely do warrant the “blackened” modifier, although the vocals are definitely more thrashy — or perhaps even similar to stoner or grunge metal at times. The drums, too, are very different from traditional black metal — leaning more towards a black’n’roll style, or sometimes (like in the mid-section of “Genocide”) slipping into more of a double-time marching band feel.
As indicated in the haiku quoted above, the second two songs (out of four total) are instrumental pieces. The first of these, “Plague of Man,” seems very doom-inspired in its riffage and composition — ranging between stoner/doom to epic doom. It still maintains a very dark and moody atmosphere, so even if none of the actual music resembles black metal in any way, the overall feeling still fits in with the blackened vibe from earlier.
The final track, “The Black,” opens with sound effects of rain and church bells, almost like a nod to the intro of “Black Sabbath” — although the slowly-building structure that follows, as they add layer upon layer of doomy guitar riffs, seems to more closely resemble a different Sabbath song, the hugely epic “Supertzar.”
You can grab Cenobite’s The Black EP for free, here: