CarnifexReading album reviews of the deathcore scene has taken the approach of slating them without justification on both the digital and printed media to the point that it is tedious and serves no purpose to the outlet or the band and labels promoting them. Every major label whether corporate or independent has at least one deathcore or metalcore band that has enabled them to branch into an untapped market that has been surging over the last decade despite the unending criticism aimed at it. Most of these bands have long established careers and have a handful or albums under their belts over the last decade or so. Granted the initial fan base of deathcore was predominantly testosterone filled teenagers looking for an outlet for their energy and angst and that is still true today only as the fan base has got older it has brought in a raft of newer fans with the scene showing no signs of abating as the major players continue to tour extensively, sell shed loads of albums all on the back of constant deprecation that is thankfully ignored by the fans of the genre which I can proudly say I have been a fan of since its inception many years ago.

US band Carnifex has been one such band that has held down the deathcore fortress in the last decade as they unleash their sixth album that sees the band take on a more experimental approach but retaining the aggressive carpet bombing riffing and a detonating rhythm section. With the scene passing the decade barrier in the last couple of years or so it has been and still is bands like Carnifex that has held the deathcore flame aloft alongside Whitechapel, Suicide Silence, Despised Icon to name the well-known bands. This sixth album begins expectedly with a gently played intro sequence that is obliterated when the opening volley of “Dark Heart Ceremony” savagely erupts from the speakers. The bands inclusion of keyboards is intact as the opener craves deep riffing gouges via its breakdown assaults and encompassing melody. The technicality of this genre is often underplayed as people predominantly focus on the groove laden breakdown riffage and barked vocals but it isn’t lost on the fan base as the live shows show with fans holding their hands aloft during the lead breaks widdling their fingers which is hilarious to watch.

Carnifex, like Whitechapel, has side stepped into newer territory as the title track offers the first tenets of that shift with emphasised keyboards and a slight symphonic touch as the mutli-toned vocals create a textural base for the riffs with bass bombing grenade exploding throughout the album to devastating effect. The tranquil opening to “Drown Me In Blood” is eerie as a shrieked vocal is accompanied by a rocketing of the tempo into blast areas as the keyboard backdrop continues to saturate the album with atmosphere but steers clear of the electrocore scene that bands like We Butter The Bread With Butter, The Browning and Eskimo Callboy play. As the album dips its toe into a more experimental guise it is left to tracks like “Black Candles Burning” and “Pale Ghost” to hoist the album back into more familiar deathcore parameters.

“Six Feet Closer To Hell” is groove infested, saturated in melody with a despairing aura on the riffing as the initial blast is superseded by hammer blows of double kick and gutting riffs as I can visualise the audience chanting the chorus line of the title at their gigs with no practice needed. “Necrotoxic” stands as the most brutal tune on the album with its double kick sounding like artillery fire from a rank of howitzers. The last quarter of the album begins with “Life Fades To A Funeral”, a soporific acoustic based piece of music that gently meanders for a couple of minutes that seeps into “Countess Of The Crescent Moon” with fluid intelligence before completely annihilating it with rupturing blast salvo. The punishing breakdown riff is littered with guitar distortion and keyboard backdrop as the lead break dances amongst the atmospherics with considerable aplomb. Closing the album, “Servants To The Horde”, again has an atmospheric quality before the unchaining of the drums and guitar riff. Bewilderingly the track has a symphonic black approach which works well and shows a band unafraid to incorporate new ideas and challenge their fan base with intelligent but brutalising music as this new material is set to be utterly devastating on the live front which I am pleased I will see when the seven band Impericon Never Say Die tour hits the UK in November that also sees Whitechapel, Thy Art Is Murder and Fallujah to name the big players on the tour.

(8.5/10 Martin Harris)