REVIEW: CARNIFEX – “Slow Death”
Since their debut on the global deathcore scene back in 2007 with their first full-length release Dead in My Arms, the Californian metal outfit Carnifex has become one of the most renowned acts in the genre, with only slightly higher profile groups such as Suicide Silence and Whitechapel gaining more attention. Now the band is back with their sixth studio effort, entitled Slow Death.
The record’s introductory track “Dark Heart Ceremony” features a prominent piano section coupled with a noticeably doomy atmosphere that definitely ratchets up the feeling of tension right from the beginning. Alongside both high-pitched screams and guttural growls, in addition to sudden bursts of what has become familiar in modern death metal drumming, the album starts off strong. The sludgy nature and the mid-tempo rhythm of the title track works well with the audible blast beats performed by drummer Shawn Cameron, but it doesn’t take long before the speed of the song ramps up and some slight black metal influences come creeping into the sound of the music. These same influences are present in “Drown Me in Blood” as vocalist Scott Lewis adopts a style especially reminiscent of the legendary Emperor frontman Ihsahn. The songwriting on this album, when the lyrics can be interpreted, sound particularly brutal and savage which is exactly what you want from a genre of music as relentless and unforgiving as death metal.
Following this, the track “Pale Ghost” is the first song on the record that leans on the more riffy side of things, with the bursts of distorted guitar adding to the track’s general feel of heaviness. Again, Cameron proves himself to be a talented musician on this track, and the virtuosic guitar solo is a very welcome addition to what is already the best song on the album so far. Many fans of the old-school death metal style often given deathcore a bad rep, but “Black Candles Burning” has plenty of positives to offer you if you’re already up to date with highly-spoken of groups in the genre such as Obituary, Nile and even Deicide to an extent. The incredibly deep vocals of Lewis have a tinge of Glen Benton to them. “Six Feet Closer to Hell” might just be the track on the record that exemplifies Carnifex’s ability to produce a straight-up deathcore song, as the guitar riffing and drum patterns are very basic when it comes to this style of music. Nonetheless, a decent addition to the record and a song you’ll definitely enjoy if you like what you’ve heard so far. “Necrotoxic” directly follows “Six Feet Closer to Hell” and the unrelenting musicianship does not let down on this track one bit. Those who think that deathcore musicians are in any way less talented instrumentally compared to their death metal counterparts should give this track a listen and be surprised by the dexterity of the drums. There are also some serious Aborted vibes on this track too.
“Life Fades to a Funeral” can be best summed up as this record’s own “The Call of Ktulu”, in that the Ride the Lightning closer is a soft instrumental piece in the same way that this song is. While it is definitely encouraging to see such a brutal band produce a piece of music like this, the sudden transition from heaviness to such overwhelmingly amounts of melody is an admittedly strange one, in that it suddenly abrupt the pace of the album significantly. This would have been better suited at the beginning or end of the album. The record comes to an end with a nice slice of aggression, thanks to the penultimate track “Countess of the Crescent Moon”; a title like this definitely represents the black metal-influenced direction that the band may go down in future years. Concluding on “Servants to the Horde”, the song is essentially the same as what you’ve heard over the album in general: sludgy down-tuned deathcore with orchestral overtones pointing to its Scandinavian influence.
Carnifex’s new record “Slow Death” is an enjoyable listen, albeit only for pre-established fans of deathcore. However, there is enough here to please supporters of other styles of heavy music, namely black metal and death metal. Nonetheless, give this album a go because chances are there is something here that you will find pleasing.