Review: Carnifex – Slow Death
Written by The Black Metal Bitch
Deathcore is not a subgenre I generally pay much attention, but I’ll be honest. As talented as many of these bands are, for one reason or another it just never held my interest. One band that does stand out, however, is the monster of a band, Carnifex.
Hailing from San Diego, California, this band is absolutely addictive and I cannot say enough good things about everything I’ve heard from this band. From their first full length album Dead In My Arms (2007) to Hell Chose Me (2010) and now their latest monstrosity, the face smashing, angst ridden slaughterhouse Slow Death, this band tears it up like a turbo charged death metal machine.
Slow Death opens up with ‘Dark Heart Ceremony,’ which, after a dramatic keyboard intro, twists and turns with violent, slamming breakdowns, sporadic machine gun double bass and guitar riffs that fluctuate from pure death metal to a very black element. The music is dark, brooding and psychotic with lyrics about being haunted by inner demons and dead friends that are relentless with lurching, off-time rhythms and wicked fret work. It’s very death metal, but it’s technical and heavy in an old school way like Deicide, but it also brings in those brutal breakdowns that the hardcore scene is so well known for, but by no means as frequent, which I appreciate.
Title track ‘Slow Death’ starts off and instantly reminds me of Meshuggah’s ‘Chaosphere’ for some reason, maybe it’s those quirky timed guitar riffs that you can’t help but bang your head along with. Guitarists Cory Arford and Jordan Lockrey just tear up the track, riff after riff as the masterful precision of Shawn Cameron operates on the drums. As usual Scott Lewis delivers with fist clenching vocals like “I hope my body’s never found” and the song grinds to an explosive end.
My favorite song of this album is also the most evil song of this album, hands down. ‘Drown Me in Blood’ is just punishing and so very precise, like a surgical blade cutting through flesh; tight and brutal metal with Lewis’ audible yet terrifying growls and an atmosphere as sadistic as a horror movie slaughterhouse. His lyrics will make you see red when he murders the line: “It only hurt for a second; is my favorite fucking lie” and that low end bass work by Fred Calderon really stick out on this one. If there was one song that had everything I like most in the death metal and black metal genre I would be hard pressed to think of another song.
‘Pale Ghost’ is another high charged track written originally written for the 2014 release and fan favorite Die Without Hope album. There’s some symphonic black metal elements present in this one and it’s loaded with gothic atmosphere and some wild guitar solos.
‘Black Candles Burning’ is pure death metal carnage and evil to the core. Carnifex definitely pay homage to the classic sounds throughout Slow Death, but definitely bring the best parts of the Deathcore genre and it’s blended just right.
‘Six Feet Closer to Hell’ is another notable track of the album; then again I can’t really pick one that doesn’t carry its weight.
‘Closer to Hell’ has some beautiful but intense slower parts and tons of raw emotion in the lyrics and ‘Necrotoxic’ is full tilt, shredding as the crew produce their fastest track of the album.
Slowing it down a bit, ‘Life Fades to a Funeral’ is a bittersweet, two minute instrumental track. It’s a pretty little guitar melody demonstrating a softer side of the band.
‘Countess of the Crescent Moon’ is another very symphonic black metalish track with some very fleshy riffs. This one has a few of those really heavy breakdowns discussed earlier as well as brilliant guitar solos. This one, like ‘Drown Me In Blood’ is loaded with that underlying atmosphere that makes the chorus of “the next time you see me I’ll be dead and gone” really hit you in the feels.
‘Countess’ is another favorite of this full length that really set these guys apart from the crowd and I couldn’t be happier.
Wrapping up this beautiful piece of work is ‘Servants to the Horde,’ which is loaded with dark influences and that wicked, crawling and grinding punishment Carnifex deliver so brilliantly. Apparently this one is written for the fans of the band – the band being the servants and the metal masses being the horde. It’s three and a half minutes of black metal riffs, crunchy and slower rhythms and that sinister atmosphere that is so prominent on this album. This is yet another track I find myself going back to throughout my day.
As I explained earlier, Deathcore is a genre I never really felt at home with. There’s a different vibe, a different perspective and one I usually can’t quite relate with but when a band so full of rage, hatred and self loathing put together a piece of work as powerful and chaotic as Slow Death (to be honest, the band’s entire discography should not go ignored) I take notice. This album scores across the board: the guitar riffs are Grade A on the heaviness and I often find myself craving for my Carni-fix. Scott Lewis has one of the best voices in the metal world and his lyrics are vivid as he brings his pain and his anger across perfectly. I love the fact that despite his deep growls I can actually hear exactly what he is saying, which really make the music so infectious. The band is extremely talented and blend a number of influences together perfectly in a style totally their own what’s even better is there was zero clean vocals throughout the disc. I’m an elitist bitch, there’s no denying it, but listening to these guys isn’t much of a stretch at all from my usual rotation of beloved black metal, so despite the Deathcore tag I would recommend this to any fan of heavy music. Slow Death is as close to perfect as it gets, so don’t wait. Just grab this album as soon as you can. 9/10