Release Date: October 25, 2011
“Deathcore” is one of those sub-genres among the many that contain that semi-hateful word “core” in it. They’re everywhere, deathcore, hardcore, thrashcore, it’s a fucking disease. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the bands who provide our core-based metal. It just seems like a term that veteran metal fans use to insult any recent band that is “trying to be something they are not”. It’s like being rejected from true metal status, “Sorry dude, you can’t come in. You’re too core”. Hey, I’m not bitter. I love Slayer and Suicide Silence. It’s all fucking metal, right? Why can’t it just be that?
Carnifex is a prime example of a metal band suffering from having “core” stamped across its forehead, but here they are, sticking their noses in once again with their latest release Until I Feel Nothing, and they’ve got some more metal mayhem for you. Still somewhat fresh from their previous record Hell Chose Me, the San Diego five-piece deliver their fourth studio album, and third through Victory Records.
Pissing me off right from the moment I see the tracklist is the album length. Carnifex‘s “full-length” album Until I Feel Nothing runs for just over 30 minutes. It is the band’s shortest album to date, the rest coming in just short of 35 minutes. Let me turn your attention to Alice In Chains‘ Jar Of Flies EP. EP stands for extended play, which is basically a long single (or short album for those who see that the glass is half empty) and not a full album. Jar Of Flies runs for around 34 minutes, 4 mintes more that Carnifex‘s new full-length album. Is it just too unreasonable to ask for a bit more value for money? When I spend more than £10 (around $18) on a CD, I want a decent amount of listening time. 30 minutes just isn’t enough for any full-length album, no matter how good it may be. The album is spread over nine songs (and an introduction track), averaging around 3 minutes 20 seconds per song, which would be fine had there been at least another three or four tracks to enjoy.
What this album does have, in spades, is balls. Right from the introduction track “Deathwish”, the testicle factor is fat, heavy, and so low that they are skimming the ground. It is headed up by some of the lowest tuned bass you can achieve, and it sounds tasty. Making an interesting appearance throughout sections of this album is a fair dose of melodic synth, something that a lot of metal groups dip into at one point or another. “A Grave To Blame” is a good example, and thankfully the synth is only a brief occurance, otherwise it may feel unwelcome. It sort of pops in to say hello, makes its mark and leaves just in time for Carnifex to blast us away one last time before the song closes.
Production, manned by As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis, is much more raw and aggressive this time around, and stands valiantly above the band’s debut album Dead In My Arms and the follow-up The Diseased And The Poisoned. Vocalist Scott Lewis is at his best here, and the fantastic production can take full credit for providing a comfortable platform to viciously expel his rage. This is Carnifex‘s strongest effort so far, just a year after their reasonably quiet third release Hell Chose Me.
In a general sense, the tracks on this album are pretty good and will definitely draw in the usual fans of the extreme metal genre, but it fails to be anything more than another album to hold you over until the next release.
The first 20 seconds of “Creation Defaced” sounds like those Norwegian black metal monsters Dimmu Borgir, and halfway through the track, we take a break from the crushing intensity of metal and sink into a soothing, atmospheric interlude, soon to be smashed by some more raw, heavy fuckness.
“Never Forgive Me” is one of Until I Feel Nothing‘s more memorable tracks, featuring a haunting guitar effect about 45 seconds in, and plenty of thundering bass drum assaults to tenderize your neck to. The album’s closing track, “Curse My Name” is a slow-burner to begin with, but it doesn’t take long before the pedal is driven through the floor with some pacey riffing. Disappointingly, the album abruptly disintegrates, without leaving you any time to reflect on what you have just been listening to, and its rather lousy run-time makes you wonder whether it was even worth it.
As with a lot of extreme metal bands, each album release can usually be condensed down to “more of the same from [insert band X here]” and with Carnifex‘s fourth album, that notion still stands, but I won’t hesitate to say that the Carnifex boys have added pinches of varying ingredients in order to twist the flavour with each track. The aftertaste will excite fans of the band and the surrounding similar artists, but veteran metallers will just see this as yet another “deathcore” album to bypass. It’s definitely worthy of a listen, but don’t expect a ground-breaking record that will stand above the rest of the genre.
Fans of the band have praised this album generally as the best yet, and of course they would, they’re fans. The band’s Facebook became a stomping ground for the “fuck the critics, what do they know about real music” crowd after the band posted a comment about several critics “hating” the album. Hey, that’s fine, I would defend Opeth to the hilt, but if you’re going to take anyone’s opinion when mulling over a decision to buy an album or not, the critics are the best place to go. I’m not just saying this because I happen to be one. I don’t get paid, so what do I have to gain? Think about it, critics and reviewers (real ones I mean) have a job to do, and that is to inform you of their unbiased (and often unpaid) opinion. A good reviewer will analyze the album in detail and explain their opinions. Compare that to the often heavily biased viewpoint of a life-long fan. Don’t get me wrong, the most important people to any band are the fans. If the fans are happy, the job is done, but don’t discount the views of an industry professional just because their opinion doesn’t match up to yours. People often say “fuck the critics”, like there’s some conspiracy going on. I say that if you can’t argue your point with a degree of unbiased intelligence, you have no argument. Nobody is right and nobody is wrong, which is why I’ve decided to abandon the usual X-out-of-ten album rating for my review of Until I Feel Nothing, and leave you with my thoughts, and my thoughts only.
Carnifex can be applauded for their continued loyalty to their sound, and here we see a slight evolution in attitude and aggressiveness, but musically, it’s just another Carnifex album. Expect the same brutal breakdowns, the same shredding riffs, the same blasting percussion and the same ripping vocals. “That’s not a bad thing” you’ll say, and I agree, but I for one am hoping that my next Carnifex review won’t just be a cut-and-paste job from this one.
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