Monday, July 19, 2010

Carnifex - The Diseased and the Poisoned (2008)

Seeing that the songwriting for the band's first two official releases was so miserable that it could not possible become worse by default, playing like a less interesting alternative to Job for a Cowboy, one would surmise that Carnifex had nowhere to go but up. To be fair, The Diseased and the Poisoned, the band's first album for Victory records, who saw some potential for profit in the band's viral appeal to 15 year old girls who have outgrown their Edward Scissorhands T-shirts and the 18 year old boys who love them and desire to rope them in with their wallet chains, is a subtle improvement over its predecessors. The reason being that the band write a lot more actual metal music here than they have in the past, and they grind their riffs off against the breakdowns in a far more timely, balanced fashion.

Yes, even apes will adapt to their environment if given the fruit and nurture, and thus too have Carnifex. The production, while not as loud or brutal as the previous album, is well executed. There are at least a few dozen riffs on this album which contain something akin to merit, even though they rarely last more than a few measures before transforming into the band's nauseous obsession for breakdowns. You can hear all the popular influences, from Swedish melodic death metal (the faster partitions of "The Nature of Depravity" or "Innocence Died Dreaming") to good old US metalcore mosh riffs (almost every song here). The album is kept short and spastic as it shifts between poles. 12 songs in 33 minutes gives it much more of a hardcore ethic, but really, if we're going to get technical, the band should have cut out about 21 of these minutes and written better songs around the better fragments of bone they project from their torment.

Almost every breakdown is irrelevant, though I notice a few of them take on a more bouncy effect than in the past, like a shallow mirror to Meshuggah, lacking the Swedish band's tact for hypnosis and lyrical dominance. Carnifex toss out some serious song titles here that might have you thinking for a second that they're interested in some real death metal: "Adornment of the Sickened", "Answers in Mournin", "Aortic Dissection", and "To My Dead and Dark Dreams" all ring of sufficient menace to carouse the mind off to its darker climes. But this is deceptive, because the lyrics are all still based in the pseudo-emotional vacuum of genre cliches. 'I'm dead inside and it's all I'll ever be', or 'I gave up everything', or 'I'm watching the rain fall through this broken glass, washing the blood from my hands'. This is Jonathan Davis level material here, minus the rap parts folks. Perfect reflections for the Twilight Saga fanatic. Go Team Deadward!

The Diseased and the Poisoned is adequate sounding in the mix, due to the experience of Zeuss at Planet Z (having helped bands like Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage across the map). The drums are decent, and the guitars are far better than the previous releases. A few times the vocals remind me of Martin van Drunen. Through the depths of tracks like "Enthroned in Isolation", you can hear a genuine interest in some real death metal. Since the band do not suck entirely at this sort of approach, I would greatly encourage them to explore it further. Drop the shitty high school locker lyrics and about 90% of the breakdowns, and I would gladly eat my own boots. They're size 13, so you could enjoy watching me gnaw on them for some time. But it'll require something far more than this before I commence the unlacing.

Verdict: Fail [2.25/10]

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