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Music / Cephalic Carnage

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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.



  • 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)


The band contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 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.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Nick Schendzielos' bizarre sense of humor is basically common knowledge at this point.
  • Cover Version: They have covered "Hand of Doom", "Jesus Saves", and Repulsion's "Decomposed".
  • Doom Metal: Have dabbled in various forms of this here and there, most notably "Halls of Amenti".
  • Eldritch Abomination: "Abraxas of Filth".
  • 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.
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  • Heavy Meta: "Counting the Days".
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 "Aeyuchg!" was the same for black metal.
  • 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.

Example of: