Monday, July 19, 2010

Carnifex - Hell Chose Me (2010)

Similar to how Job for a Cowboy have decided to abandon most of their deathcore/metalcore roots in favor of the path of true, grisly death metal (okay, not so grisly in their case), so too have Carnifex made the choice to follow a more challenging and engaging path in their music. Yes, I'm admitting, to my surprise and no doubt that of others, that this California band have written an album here which ALMOST does not suck. It follows all the conventions of its predecessor The Diseased and the Poisoned, but continues to inject more death metal and melodic death/thrash into the festivities, and the band can only benefit as a result. I'm not claiming that they've come up with some innovative or memorable material on their third full-length, but they sound as if they've seen the ghost-rays of enlightenment and are at least making a grasp at them as they radiate from a dead sun.

The title track instantly rages forth from the grave, a blasting burst of technical, modern death with some pretty intense drumming. A few riffs in and the band are rolling out riffs which remind me of legends like Consuming Impulse by Pestilence, and you don't hit a breakdown until after 1:30 in the song, and the breakdown itself is more interesting than many they've done in the past, with a little shredding over it and a descending note pattern. Not until the end, after 3:00 does the song plummet into unbridled stupidity, with a mosh riff lacking personality, that could have been infused to or fro any of the band's earlier albums. The band does not quite maintain this pace throughout. Several of the tracks are still choked to the neck with bad breakdown riffs that serve no other purpose than the slampit satisfaction of an eager audience seeking release. But at least songs like "Dead Archetype" and "Sorrowspell" features further glimpses of ambition and inspiration in some of the riffing choices, and a further test of proficiency for the band's immense rhythm section.

They've also got even meaner song titles here like "Entombed Monarch" and "Genocide Initiative", and have finally started to shift away from the baby-blues lyrics of the first few records, dealing a little more directly with ghastly hatred, misogyny and warfare. Don't get your hopes up, because there are still several relationship lament type songs here. I mean, we all know that deathcore music can lift us up when we get dumped or lied to by our first few teenage girlfriends. Trust me, it's not going to get any better, for your end or the other. But at least we have Carnifex calling out whores and the various demented acts they'd like to perform upon such enemies, rather than just 'woe is me' Gothic lolita bullshit.

By now, these guys are a pretty huge fixture in this sub-genre, with some retarded videos out and possibly their own fashion line for all I fucking know. The music seems to at least be rising to the occasion, or rising to the attention span of developing listeners who are probably no longer sated by the simplistic breakdowns that were not original when deathcore's predecessor, metalcore was engaging them at the straightedge gig. Sadly, those still remain, but Carnifex is attempting to make a number of them fit in better with the track, rather than stick out like sore thumbs of cheap suck action. Credit is due only that this is a better band than we've heard before, improving on most fronts. Who knows, within the next decade we might have something from the pen and joints of this quintet worth owning. Stamp out a few more of the dumber lyrics and breakdowns, and it is on, my friends.

Verdict: Fail [4/10]

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