Who You’re Not Listening To: Cenotaph (Mexico)

by Matt Kubacki

There’s a good chance if you can name a Mexican metal band, it’s probably The Chasm. No, Brujeria doesn’t count. Led by frontman Daniel Corchado, The Chasm put out several outstanding death metal albums since 1992. But I’m not going to be talking about The Chasm. I’m going to talk about the “other” Daniel Corchado band, Cenotaph.

Founded in 1989 as Damned Cross, the band released a few demos, prior to the release of their first full-length, The Gloomy Reflection of Our Hidden Sorrows, in 1992. This album chose to abandon the gory themes of their demo material, and move into the realm of gloom and the occult. Depressive, yet drenched in aggression, Gloomy Reflection remains a solid listen to this day, being raw and remarkably bottom-heavy for the era. Corchado’s growls are cavernous, and his bass work cuts through the mix on the entire album. Guitarists César Sánchez and Guillermo Delgado’s riffs create an incredibly gritty foundation, while their sparse leads and synths generate a dismal atmosphere. Drummer Oscar Clorio is probably the unsung hero here, his drum work is incredibly tight and varied. Corchado would leave the band soon after this release, and carry on what he started here with The Chasm (he would also have a brief stint in Incantation).

Clorio and Sánchez would continue Cenotaph with a new lineup after Corchado’s departure, moving into a more Scandinavian-inspired melodeath sound for the next two albums, 1994’s Riding Our Black Oceans, and Epic Rites in 1996. Joined by Julio Viterbo (who would also go on to play in The Chasm) on guitar, Fernando Garcilazo on bass, and Edgardo González handling vocals, this lineup is where the band’s work really shines. Retaining the impeccable drumming from the first album, these albums sacrifice grittiness for melody, but still retain the gloomy atmosphere.

At some point after this, Cenotaph would lose both guitarists and their bassist. Clorio and González would then recruit Samuel Ocadiz (guitar) and Eduardo Guevara (guitar and bass) for their final album, Saga Bélica, released in 2002. This lineup would discard most of the melodic leanings of their previous material, progressing on to death-thrash. Blasting along with constant intensity, this album is over before you know it. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just the Reign In Blood of Mexi-death.

Unfortunately, Clorio would decide to wrap up Cenotaph after this. While this band may not be the best known Daniel Corchado band, or even the best known Cenotaph for that matter, Mexico’s Cenotaph released four incredible albums that deserve much more attention.

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