The sneaky little blighters! I’ve been a fan of the French outfit for the longest time, not in the least because, of course, as a Carcass fan, I was initially attracted by the closeness of the name! As it turns out, it’s a reference to the Latin name for the Great White Shark, but that be as it may, there isn’t really a whole lot in common between Carcariass and the better known British crew, other than they both inhabit the wide death metal sphere.
Carcariass apparently released this very album back in 2009 on Great Dane Records, though I will confess that I missed that completely. I was a big fan of their 2002 “Killing Process” album, which was a heady mix of technical metal chops and death metal sensibilities, and so to get this album, albeit in re-released form is a bit of a treat for yours truly.
Or rather, it should have been. The thing is, as fond as I am of the band’s blend of very accomplished technicality, melody and musical ability, I’ve found E-Xtinction to be a bit of a frustrating listen. There were nine tracks on the original release, of which four were instrumentals. Now, I have nothing against instrumentals per se; hell, I like Orion as much as the next man, but I do find it difficult to keep my attention span in order over half a bloody album without as much as a sing-song. This is compounded by the production, which if anything is too good. Yes, all of that tasty guitar work is produced in ultra-clear definition for your listening pleasure, and therefore the unbridled guitar work (of which there is much) runs rampant and unchecked in your earholes, but the problem is it sounds too shiny. Too safe. Too perfect.
In short, while “E-Xtinction” does have some great parts, (“Domination”, for instance, sounds great with the grit and grime of the coarse bellowed vocals trading off well against some fairly traditional metal chops), without the vocals, it all starts to sound a bit too much like an Anime DVD menu soundtrack for my liking. I know there will be some folks out there who will cream themselves over the tangled complexity of all that instrumentation, but I’ll be honest – the likes of “Exulting Pain” sounded far too much like the soundtrack to the end credits of an eighties action movie for me. And no, that isn’t a good thing.
For those of you who bought this first time round, there are five bonus tracks here, which are…erm…the original tracks from the album that had vocals presented again without vocals. Maybe this is something for you tonsil protestors to get your heads round, or something for the niche market of technical-death metal karaoke, but I’m not sure they were that effective as a bonus for me. Still, even when they’re not at their most exciting, Carcariass present plenty of interesting music, and so an off-colour release is still worth your time. Just don’t expect a sing-along.
(5.5/10 Chris Davison)