Now, this has to be one of my most anticipated albums this year. I’ve been following Carnifex for a number of years and with each release they’ve consistently got better and better. As soon as I heard that they were working with Mick Kenny from Anaal Nathrakh, I knew that this album would be something else. Add in Jason Suecof from Audiohammer and you’ve got a recipe for a seriously heavy album…
The evidence that they have been working with Kenny is rather apparent across the whole album. There’s little elements dotted here and there which remind me of Anaal records. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing. By embracing the slightly darker elements, Carnifex have created a rather unique formula. Yet they still have everything that made them one of the best bands in the more extreme end of the metal scene.
Opening with a rather haunting piano melody before smashing in with the heaviness is the track “Dark Heart Ceremony”. By lulling you into a false sense of calm, it shatters it in a rather subtle and yet stark manner. The first evidence of Kenny’s handiwork appears with the backing guitar melodies slotted in here and there rather perfectly. Little elements like that create a much more diverse soundscape and also make the song a much darker affair.
“Slow Death”. Man, what a groove! Ever since they first released a snippet of this song, it’s been stuck in my head for ages. I mean honestly, the chorus on this song is just the perfect balance between older more rhythmic Carnifex and the new dark melodious Carnifex. By blending these two entities together, it creates one the best tracks on the album, and probably one of the best deathcore tracks out there…
Now, the first single from the album… “Drown Me In Blood”. This is probably the most ‘black metal’ sounding track on the album. The high-pitched tremolo picked melodies, the backing synths and the blast beats all come together to create this rather unique and spectacularly heavy track that left me thinking “Whoa…” after I first heard it.
“Pale Ghost” opens in a rather interesting manner with an almost tr808 sounding drum pattern before the band comes in following a similar pattern. An interesting touch I must say. The track rather expertly leads into “Black Candles Burning”. This track feels like it’s been lifted from Die Without Hope and had some of the new themes explored added to it. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that it sounds rather similar to something I’ve heard previously.
Onto the second single from the album, “Six Feet Closer To Hell”. Having a similar sound to “Drown Me In Blood”, it starts off largely in the same manner before coming into a similarly groovy chorus like the one in “Slow Death”. It’s almost as if the band combined the songs to make one decidedly awesome one. “Necrotoxic” opens in a similar fashion to a super-speed thrash metal song and could almost be mistaken for one until the band switch it up a gear and throw in a good ol’ fashioned breakdown. Being one the faster songs on the album, it shows the technical skill of all the performers rather well and also shows off Scott’s impressive vocal range/styles.
“Life Fades To A Funeral” is a track that surprised me actually. A completely instrumental track with no overdriven instruments present at all. Just clean guitars with a rather a nice reverb on them. That calm is all but shattered by the dark monstrousness of “Countess Of The Crescent Moon”. 2 stark contrasting tracks, yet both fit into the album so perfectly.
“Servants To The Horde”, the final track on this rather impressive album. In terms of instrumentation, it starts off rather similarly to “Drown Me In Blood”. At 1:32 however, a thunderous ‘breakdown’ section shatters this theme with the 8 string guitars really bringing a feeling of being pummelled. Which aptly describes the track actually, a thunderous explosion of fury with a tinge of black metal.
In terms of a recommendation, I’d recommend this to fans of Carnifex (Obviously) but also to fans of Anaal Nathrakh and similar bands. The new elements the band has added have really changed their overall sound to be something much darker and aggressive.
So, have Carnifex done what they set out to do? Create “their darkest most sinister album”? Oh yes. They have indeed. It’s quite honestly, the best record in this area of metal I’ve ever heard. The infusing of the various new elements has done wonders and has made Carnifex a true force to be reckoned with.
Standout tracks: Slow Death, Drown Me In Blood, Six Feet Closer To Hell, Necrotoxic, Countess Of The Cresecent Moon.
Carnifex release Slow Death on August 5th via Nuclear Blast Records.