The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Guest Writer: Scott Alisoglu - Cenotaph: "Death by Turk"




Cenotaph
Death by Turk
By Scott Alisoglu

There is brutal death metal and there is brutal death metal. The latter is a style defined by vocals ranging from unintelligible sewage gurgling to pig squealing, the heaviest of riffs often derived from the early Suffocation school, blast beaten rhythms, and gore-soaked lyrical fare that would make Chris Barnes blush (ok, well, maybe not blush). The fans are a small, but dedicated group, found the world over, their allegiance unwavering and their tastes almost exclusively extreme. It is this segment of the death metal community to which Tennessee’s stalwart Unmatched Brutality label caters, no matter the geographical location.

One of the label’s newest roster additions is Turkey’s Cenotaph (not to be confused with the Mexican act); a demonstration of brutal death metal’s global reach. Formed in Ankara in 1994 by vocalist Batu Cetin, the group (rounded out by guitarists Basar Cetin and Cihan Ak√ľn, bassist Coskun Kaplan, and drummer Caglar Yurut) has released four albums. All have seen U.S. release through the now defunct United Guttural (Pseudo Verminal Cadaverium), Burning Dogma (re-releases of Voluptuously Minced and Puked Genital Purulency on one disc called Voluptuously Puked Genitals), and new Unmatched Brutal disc Reincarnation in Gorextacy, 25 minutes of unashamed grind ‘n squawk brutal death.

Though a key NATO ally and a westernized democracy at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, some may be surprised at Turkey’s sizeable base of extreme music fans, a point that Batu Cetin emphasizes with regularity. And that extends to the families of these musicians.

“My family supports our musical activities,” says Cetin. “My mom had to listen to death metal because every day I listened at high volume in my room when I was 18 – 20 years old, and she can tell me the difference between Bolt Thrower and Cannibal Corpse. I love my family because they have supported Cenotaph since the beginning.”

That support doesn’t stop with Mom and Dad. Batu had a profound influence on the musical tastes of brother and band mate Basar.

“I bought Basar a B.C. Rich guitar when he was 12 years old and he started to play. He joined the band in 2000 when our old guitarist left. He grew up in a death metal family because his brother listens to it 24 hours a day every day and he of course also became a death metal head. We have a project band together called Drain of Impurity, which is a drum machine blast metal band.”

Moving beyond the Cetin family to the group itself, Cenotaph includes in its ranks a membership with an intriguing range of occupations and activities outside of the band. One way or the other though, music is the common bond.

“I’m working at the airport as an airline representative, 13 years doing the same job,” Batu begins. “I’ve worked at three different airports. I’m also running an underground distro called Drain Productions. I released two CDs under this label. I’m also selling underground brutal CDs, shirts, etc. Coskun worked for a while at rehearsal and recording studios in Turkey. Right now he’s working at an advertising company and working all day with PhotoShop. Caglar has a label called Anger Epidemic Records. He released a few death metal and hardcore albums with local bands. Basar is a bit of a lazy fuck, hanging all day at home and also going to university, studying pathology, anatomy, and amputation. He’ll soon work as an amputator; when people lose their arms or legs he’ll do the plastic ones for them. Cihan hangs around at school all day and plays guitar at home.”

The beauty of metal is the universal language spoken by its devotees, one that transcends race, ethnicity, and religion. It is an attribute that becomes readily apparent in discussing the issue with Batu. Because of the media saturation concerning Middle Eastern conflicts, which are often rooted in religion, the misinformed often paints the region with wide strokes, failing to see the dominant middle ground for the fringe elements. Just as Christianity is not defined by its most radical adherents, but by an arguably larger sect that embraces what some would call a sacrilegious musical style, neither does Islam consist only of the orthodox, even in an overwhelmingly Muslim, though secularly based, country like Turkey.

“We respect every religion, but personally I’m an atheist. The other band members have different opinions about this subject. It doesn’t bother me if someone believes as a Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist. For me there are two types of persons that exist in the world: good ones and assholes. I have many friends with different views and I have no problem with that. I also lived for 10 years in Austria, which is a Catholic country and not had any problems with the people or the religion. Every person is free to believe or not believe. People have to respect each other because religious fanaticism and radicalism only starts wars.”

Copyright (c) 2009 Scott Alisoglu

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