Friday, February 19, 2010

Hearse - Cambodia EP (2005)

As far as an EP release goes, while I can't claim Cambodia is brilliant, it certainly should have a value to any hardcore fan of Hearse that wishes to track it down. The reason being that it contains more than merely a few new tracks, but the 2001 Hearse demo and the 2003 Torch EP contained in their entirety. Now, granted, all of those songs have already appeared on the Dominion Reptilian album, but it's kind of a nice deal to have them all here in one place, without a need to track down the originals if you're the collector type who simply wants all the music and not necessarily the original product.

"Cambodia" itself is a cover of the British pop songstress Kim Wilde's 1981 hit, which was also included with her Select album. Seems a rather far flung track for a band like Hearse to cover, and yet it somehow adheres completely to the band's melodic death & roll aesthetic. That's not to say it's one of their better tracks, but there is a great crunch to the very simplistic verse, and Liiva's just on fire, with a far larger grating tone in his voice than he's offered on the debut, and some manly backing choirs that ride in tune to the guitar harmony. "The Accused" is one of the two new originals here, with a nice accessible death line that parts into some little, crystalline melodies before a punkish vitriol erupts. It's a thoroughly entertaining tune which veers to and fro several great riffs, and the best on this EP. After this, "Wheel of Misfortune" builds an almost arabesque mystique through its intro rhythm, alongside some chugging. There are some nice, hardcore charging riffs here, and a decent lead segment, but I liked the track a little less than "The Accused".

After this, the Torch EP is reprinted in full, with two of the songs ("Torch" and "Avalon") that would prove to be counted among the stronger material of the debut album. The sound quality is comparable, if not the very same recording as the album (I can hardly tell a difference). The reprinted tracks from the s/t demo, however, feel a bit more boxy and crude in tone, though still clear enough to appreciate. Of the four, I appreciated "Well of Youth" and "So Vague" a little more than "Dominion Reptilian" or "Rapture in Twilight", but even then, I'd rather listen to the album versions.

At any rate, despite the fact that you probably owned 5 of its 8 tracks in a better format if you were a Hearse fan, the Cambodia EP is a decent value, and Karmageddon Media and the band were wise to release it with the inclusion of the older material (it's 40 minutes long...). It's not perfect, but far from a ripoff like many other releases of its type.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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