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Cephalic Carnage is an American experimental death metal/deathgrind band. Characterized by their musically eclectic compositions and raucous live shows, they are a well-loved act that has stayed that way even in spite of their current absence from the touring scene.

Formed in Edgewater, Colorado in 1992 by Leonard "Lenzig" Leal (vocals) and Zac Joe (guitars) as a two-man experimental grindcore project, they put out the Scrape My Lungs demo and a split with Deprayved in 1994 before going on hiatus; 1996 saw their return with a full lineup that included Steve Goldberg (guitar), Doug Williams (bass), and John Merryman (drums). Fortuitous Oddity, their second demo, came out that same year, and a promo followed the next year, along with a self-financed US tour. Williams stopped being able to do much by the band by 1998, however, which led to Joe and Goldberg tracking bass themselves on Conforming to Abnormality, their debut full-length. Jawsh Mullen quickly filled Williams' spot, and by 2000, they had inked a deal with Relapse Records and released Exploiting Dysfunction, their sophomore full-length. A significant amount of touring followed, and 2002 brought Lucid Interval, their third full-length, as well as Halls of Amenti, a one-song, twenty-minute sludge/doom metal EP. Bigger and bigger tours followed, and by the end of 2004, they went in to record Anomalies, their fourth full-length. 2005 saw both that album's release and another round of touring, but by the beginning of 2006, Mullen had had enough and left to go back to school. Nick Schendzielos quickly replaced him, and after the standard set of tours, Xenosapien dropped in May of 2007. Three years came and went with no real deviation from the norm aside from Joe leaving and the band welcoming in Brian Hopp in his place, and by August of 2010, Misled by Certainty was out. During the touring cycle for this album, Schendzielos wound up also joining Job for a Cowboy after Brent Riggs left right before a tour, but this did little to affect his availability. Over the next couple years, they continued to tour, but after a European tour with Suffocation in 2013, that too dried up; John Merryman's ability to tour had been nonexistent for at least a couple years due to his need to take care of a newborn child (necessitating fill-ins), but after that tour, they turned into a fest band. Little has happened since then aside from festival appearances and the occasional assurance that a new album is coming, though they toured for the first time in five years in 2018 and played a new song on that tour, which suggests that it may eventually happen.

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Discography:

  • Scrape My Lungs (1994) (demo)
  • Cephalic Carnage/Deprayved (1994) (split)
  • Fortuitous Oddity (1996) (demo)
  • Promo 1997
  • Conforming to Abnormality (1998)
  • Cephalic Carnage/Adnauseam (1998) (split)
  • Impaled/Cephalic Carnage (1999) (split)
  • Exploiting Dysfunction (2000)
  • Perversion... and the Guilt After/Version 5.Obese (2002) (split with Anal Blast)
  • Lucid Interval (2002)
  • Halls of Amenti (2002) (EP)
  • Anomalies (2005)
  • Digital Carnage (2005) (EP)
  • Xenosapien (2007)
  • HF Seveninches Collection Vol. 1 (2008) (V/A compilation)
  • Double Impact (2009) (split with Joshua + Karyane and Rise Above)
  • Misled by Certainty (2010)

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THE TROPES THAT WERE TAKEN AWAY!:

  • Avant-Garde Metal: "Experimental death metal" is probably the easiest label for them.
  • Bald of Awesome: John Merryman. Steve Goldberg is also fast approaching this.
  • Body Horror: All over the place on the cover of Exploiting Dysfunction.
  • Careful with That Axe: Frequent throughout the band's work, but special mentions must go to the screeches in "Misguided" and the title scream of "Aeyeucgh!"
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Nick Schendzielos' bizarre sense of humor is basically common knowledge at this point.
  • Cop Killer: The narrator of "Kill for Weed" does this to two officers tearing up his house looking for illegal drugs.
  • Cover Version: They have covered "Hand of Doom", "Jesus Saves", and Repulsion's "Decomposed".
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: "P.G.A.D.":
    How many times a day
    Will you masturbate your stress away?
    Sore, when you fill your order
    Persistent genital arousal disorder.
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  • Doom Metal: Have dabbled in various forms of this here and there, most notably "Halls of Amenti".
  • Driven to Suicide: The character speaking in "Ohrwurm" has this trope due to Incessant Music Madness from Ear Worms:
    Ear worms released in vain sailing into desolation
    Solace from the torturous worm
    Cocked back hammer squeeze the trigger
    Nothing soothes like a bullet
    Get this song out of my head
  • Ear Worm: "Ohrwurm" is of course about this, being named after the German term for this trope. The character in the song suffers Incessant Music Madness, and eventually, commits suicide after hearing a catchy tune.
    Ear worms released in vain sailing into desolation
    Solace from the torturous worm
    Cocked back hammer squeeze the trigger
    Nothing soothes like a bullet
    Get this song out of my head
  • Eldritch Abomination: "Abraxas of Filth".
  • Epic Rocking: "Black Metal Sabbath" (6:15), "Anthro Emesis" (6:21), "Graul" (6:45), "Ontogeny of Behavior" (9:49), "Repangaea" (12:11), and "Exploiting Dysfunction" (15:26).
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Ontogeny of Behavior."
  • Genre Roulette: They have played (among many other genres) deathgrind, Technical Death Metal, sludge metal, death 'n' roll, post-metal, mathcore, and death/doom, and there's no real guarantee of what you'll find on a given album.
  • Grindcore: Experimental grindcore was their chosen genre early on, and while they have branched out, they've always maintained a significant undercurrent of this.
  • Heavy Meta: "Counting the Days".
  • Incessant Music Madness: In "Ohrwurm", a character suffers this from Ear Worms, and is Driven to Suicide by them:
    Ear worms released in vain sailing into desolation
    Solace from the torturous worm
    Cocked back hammer squeeze the trigger
    Nothing soothes like a bullet
    Get this song out of my head
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: All over the place, as is typical for death metal. The high-pitched screams during "Misguided" are almost impossible to make out even with the lyrics handy, and the opening lines of "Arsonist Savior" are gurgled very quietly as to be nearly inaudible.
  • Irony: They hated Job for a Cowboy during their initial period of fame and apparently recorded a diss track targeting them. Guess whose bassist wound up joining them?
  • Jump Scare: Quite a few of their songs have the effect of a quiet section, only to burst into grinding metal without warning. "Black Metal Sabbath" has a particularly nasty example at the beginning of the track.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The hidden track that closes Lucid Interval ends with about 30 seconds of some strange hissing noise that is suddenly cut off by a loud, distorted wail.
  • Lead Bassist: Nick Schendzielos is a Type A, B, and C.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Very common on their studio albums due to a fondness for guest vocalists.
  • Metal Scream: Lenzig Leal is a solid Type 2 with occasional Type 3 highs.
  • Miniscule Rocking: All of their albums save Anomalies have examples.
    • Conforming to Abnormality: "Anechoic Chamber" (1:34), "Wither" (1:52), and "A.Z.T." (0:48)
    • Exploiting Dysfunction: "Driven to Insanity" (1:06), "On Six" (0:06), "The Ballad of Moon" (1:50), Warm Hand on a Cold Night" (0:11), "Molestandos Plantas Muertos!" (1:11), and "Paralyzed by Fear" (1:39).
    • Lucid Interval: "Scolopendra Cingulata" (1:35), "Fortuitous Oddity" (0:44), "The Isle of California" (1:21), "Friend of Mine" (0:08), "Zuno Gyakusatsu" (0:53), "Cannabism" (0:45), and "Misguided" (0:56).
    • Xenosapien: "Vaporized" (1:45) and "Let Them Hate so Long as They Fear" (1:10).
    • Misled by Certainty: "Pure Horses" (0:38), "P.G.A.D." (0:34), "Power and Force" (1:38), and "Aeyeugch!" (0:32).

  • My God, What Have I Done?: The narrator of "Arsonist Savior" has this reaction after burning down a hospital and stadium.
    Arriving at the catastrophe, I see victims around me baked
    Many souls I have taken away
    I work frantically to douse the flames, moving diligent
    I start to cry, hundreds wounded!
  • New Sound Album: Several:
    • Lucid Interval was when they began to embrace longer and more structurally complex songs instead of the spastic mathy deathgrind of their earlier work.
    • Xenosapien was where they began to move towards Technical Death Metal.
  • Pastiche: "Dying Will Be the Death of Me" was made in the style of melodic metalcore as a diss track, while "Aeyeucgh!" was the same for black metal.
  • One-Word Title: For some albums, and some songs:
    • "Ohrwurm": Referring to the Ear Worms that cause the character singing to be Driven to Suicide from Incessant Music Madness:
      Ear worms released in vain sailing into desolation
      Solace from the torturous worm
      Cocked back hammer squeeze the trigger
      Nothing soothes like a bullet
      Get this song out of my head
    • Anomalies and Xenosapien.
  • Pedophile Priest: "Touched by an Angel".
  • Special Guest: They've had a LOT of guests on their albums over the years; some of the more famous ones include Ben Falgoust (Soilent Green, Goatwhore), Kirk Windstein, AJ Magana, Diego Sanchez, Travis Ryan, Barney Greenway, Corporate Death (Macabre), John Gallagher, Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Ross Dolan, Sherwood Webber, Blaine Cartwright (Nashville Pussy), and Alex Camargo (Krisiun). On the live front, Jon Rice, Patrice Hamelin, and Danny Walker (Intronaut) have all served as live fill-ins for Merryman.
  • The Stoner: A central part of their aesthetic and their self-granted genre of "Rocky Mountain Hydrogrind".
  • Technical Death Metal: A big part of their sound circa Xenosapien, though it started creeping up as early as Lucid Interval.
  • The X of Y: The title of some of their songs:
    • "Abraxas of Filth"
    • "Halls of Amenti"

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