Formed in 2005 in San Diego, California, Carnifex have since established themselves as one of the most popular deathcore bands around today. Their ninth studio album, Necromanteum, continues their legacy of disgustingly heavy music in full fashion. Despite having heard the band’s name quite a bit and maybe even chancing across a track or two by them, this is the first time I really sat down to listen to their music. However, their popularity and my enjoyment of similar artists led me to approach the album with high expectations, and I was not at all disappointed.
The band is known for their blackened deathcore sound, meaning they mix black metal influences into their music. This was quite obvious while listening to the album, as there were plenty of symphonic elements in the music, with orchestral swells and choral backing vocals populating a lot of the empty spaces on the album. This created a very big sound, which was simultaneously very enjoyable and a tad overwhelming (but palatable after a brief adjustment). The album kicked off with no delay, and I was immediately enraptured by the tones the band presented; the guitars sounded very crisp and full, and the drums were punchy and refreshing. The bass, as is often the case in extreme metal, was not distinguishable, instead just contributing to the low end of the guitars’ sound. This, in turn, gave the guitars a very powerful tone, but I was most impressed by how well they maintained their clarity through the mountains of gain and distortion; every note could be differentiated, and all the chords sounded clean and differentiable rather than messily blending together. The leads were very bright, but the rhythm sections maintained their heavy sound, which I enjoyed very much. The drums had the right amount of bite to them where they weren’t drowned out by all the other elements of the music but also weren’t overpowering. The kick drum was quite prominent, which helped maintain the rhythm of the song very well, but the slightly subdued cymbals kept the overall sound from feeling too crowded. The vocals were as expected from deathcore, with lots of distortion ranging from guttural growls to evil high screams, and the powerful delivery helped tie the music together.
While tone and sounds are really important, no metal album could be complete without good riffs to really create the huge sound we know and love. Carnifex did not fail to deliver face crunching riffs from start to finish. The album featured a good mix of classic headbangy grooves and black metal-influenced tremolo-picked blast beat sections. The addition of octave chords in chorus sections also really added a blackened touch and provided the melody necessary to cut through the wall of sound. The solos were also nice melodic intermissions in the chaos, but the band kept them short and to the point before returning back to the madness. The addition of dissonant mini-breakdown riffs also provided small breaks in the tempo and overpopulated sound, providing pockets for the listener to regroup and headbang some more. The vocals also contributed considerably to the rhythm section, helping to provide a groove to grasp onto during faster blast beat sections where it’s a bit harder to headbang. My only complaints are that most of the songs had the same structure, which got slightly repetitive as I progressed through the albums. Also, while I don’t hate them, I personally am not always the biggest fan of traditional deathcore breakdowns, but almost every track on the record had a breakdown at the end of it. These two minor things probably brought down my overall rating of the album by a point, but the album was still great, nonetheless.
From the perspective of a first-time listener of the band, I was quite blown away by how much I enjoyed this band. I know I’ll be returning to listen to this album (the whole thing got instantly added to my playlist), and I look forward to exploring the rest of the band’s discography too. In the making of this review, I did listen to a couple other top tracks of theirs, including “Die Without Hope” and “Graveside Confessions”, as well as their cover of the Korn song “Dead Bodies Everywhere”, all of which were absolutely amazing. It’s always fun to discover good, new music, and I’m definitely excited to hear what more this band has to offer.