Slow Death review by Carnifex

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  • Released: Aug 5, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 7.3 (11 votes)
Carnifex: Slow Death
3

Sound — 8
Deathcore has always been sort of a difficult genre for me, with some really good bands and some really awful bands occupying a relatively small span of sounds, and a lot of my opinions on deathcore came about around 2008 or so, when bands like Carnifex and Beneath The Massacre were relatively new. Carnifex had once performed a concert in my hometown, and for whatever reason, something I can't even remember, their set did not click with me at all, and it would be a long time before I'd ever listen to them again. Fast-forward to their new album, "Slow Death." The band had taken on other influences in their time since that show I attended, including black metal and more "traditional" death metal sounds. The band made guitar solos a more prominent feature in their sound. Eight-string guitars became the norm. Open-chug breakdowns faded out of popularity. Melody became a more important factor in their songs.

This is all apparent straight from the opening track, "Dark Heart Ceremony," which is an excellently-produced piece of metal. Unlike a lot of the deathcore production I'm used to, the guitars sound heavy but never like they're so saturated in distortion that they become an assault on the senses. The title track, which follows, features machine-gun guitar and bass drum riffs with some brief black metal influenced moments, and has one of the best solo sections I've heard in a deathcore track.

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This is kind of the expectation set up for the rest of the record: well-produced heavy 7- and 8-string riffage, a bit of black metal influence here and there, usually a clean and melodic solo section. It's certainly a formula, and they milk it on this album. It's really hard to pick out a standout track because they are all basically around the same quality and follow the same basic structure, so if you find the band's formula appealing, this album as a whole should hook you in. The only real exception on the album is the track "Life Fades to a Funeral," a clean guitar instrumental that serves as a bit of an intro to the album's closer "Servants to the Horde" and as a bit of a breather episode for the otherwise relentless metal. It's a really beautiful track, and definitely one of my favourites on the album.

The most positive aspect of this album is the guitar playing, and it's ably handled by long-time guitarist Cory Arford on rhythm and Jordan Lockrey on lead, for his second album with the band. Jordan's solos are quite excellent on the album, especially "Drown Me in Blood" which opens with some almost uncharacteristically bluesy bends before turning up the shred. Bassist Fred Calderon and drummer Shawn Cameron also play quite admirably throughout the record, locking in through all the slower grooves and faster blastbeats alike, even if their playing styles are nothing all that special. Vocalist Scott Lewis' style is nothing original, but it gets the job done quite well.

The production is another positive feature of this album. While it's a bit loud at times, it is nice to have the kind of definition and clarity on an album in this genre that "Slow Death" has. The album does have some surprisingly dynamic moments, and the production lets those sections breathe quite well.

The lack of unique songwriting and not setting themselves apart from other bands in the genre is about the only complaint I have with this record, though with deathcore, it's a bit of a limited style of music as is, so what they were able to do with the formula works quite well for the band.

Lyrics — 7
Lyrically speaking, Carnifex is as violent and bloody as one would expect of a band whose name translates from Latin into "butcher," with pretty much every song being about death, depression, murder, suicide... all very typical topics for deathcore. Many of the lyrics like to punctuate sentences with the word "fucking" put in strategic locations where it'll stand out, which feels like a rather cliched thing in the genre, and kind of a little juvenile at this point, but it's pretty much par for the course. The lyrics are not really my cup of tea, but in such a violent-sounding genre of music, they fit along with the songs quite well.

Scott Lewis' vocal style shows a fairly typical but still impressive range, from low guttural growls to higher-pitched black metal shrieks. The way he shifts between them in certain lines shows that he is quite skilled as a harsh vocalist, and there's enough variety to his vocals that they rarely, if ever, feel monotonous or grating. All in all, this album has one of the better vocal styles in the deathcore genre that I've encountered.

Overall Impression — 8
Carnifex may not be the band that ultimately changes my ambivalence about deathcore, but this album is a very competent, confident, and crushingly heavy release that very ably shows the band's talent, their good ear for melodies, and their penchant for brutal lyrics and vocal styles. It's definitely a much more mature-sounding Carnifex, and this is a particularly good album. It's definitely got its positive points, and most of the negative points are merely personal opinions of mine about deathcore as a whole, which doesn't really reflect the quality of this album, since it's a rather good deathcore record. The album is also quite short and concise, making it a bit easier to digest in one sitting, and when it comes to the more loud, extreme genres, this is a trait I quite like in an album.

So "Slow Death" is definitely worth a listen if you're into death metal or deathcore, and it's not necessarily tied to the "deathcore" label as strongly as some bands, branching into other territories, so even if you're not really into deathcore, this could be worth a listen on that basis as well.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gainsayer
    Not sure what it is about Carnifex, never really been a fan. This album, however, I love.
    jhaneline
    I've liked very few Carnifex songs over the years but this album blew me away. They did set themselves apart simply by the way they incorporated the Black Metal influences. They're bridging the gap between death metal and black metal for me. My favorite bands are all the melodic death bands but there's been a few bands that have interested me in symphonic black metal. THey fill that void pretty well with this album.
    bakutakamine
    These guys have pretty much always been the worst kind of metal, and they have changed nothing. Overblown production, generic riffs and breakdowns, and dime a dozen vocals. blegh
    withinus_tyler
    Ok bud. Carnifex is one of the best Death Metal bands from the modern day. You're just a fucking idiot
    vppark2
    Have you not listened to Chelsea Grin or Whitechapel's new albums? Because those are the worst... I'm actually surprised no one on UG's staff bothered with writing a review for CG. Maybe I'll take one for the team and write one lol.
    MetalRock4ever
    I'm kind of surprised Avatar's Feathers and Flesh hasn't been reviewed yet. I'd say it was one of the best albums of this year, for me anyways.
    MetalRock4ever
    Did you even listen to their earlier albums? Their last few albums have progressively changed, becoming less chuggy and more melodic.
    theogonia777
    So where the hell is the "black metal influence" that the reviewer kept talking about?
    Gainsayer
    Right there. Granted, the entire song isn't Black Metal. Definitely get that vibe through the chorus though.
    theogonia777
    Maybe if you have never listened to black metal in your life. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    Gainsayer
    Blasting? Check. Tremolo picking? Check. Atmospheric harmonies? Check. Mixture of growls and screams? Check. How you DON'T see the black metal influence through the choruses is beyond me. Maybe you're the one that's never listened to it in your life.
    theogonia777
    Not a single one of those things are exclusive to black metal. Those, while external traits of black metal, are not defining traits of the genre and are in fact absent in many landmark black metal albums. At the same time there are countless death and thrash metal bands, hardcore bands, even a few power metal bands that have all those characteristics you mention. Are those black metal influenced because they contain those surface traits? I could also show you entire black metal albums with little-to-none of any of those and thinking that those elements are what defines black metal shows a lack of understanding for the genre. But hey. Brown paint: Brown? Check. Wet? Check. Messy? Check. Gloopy? Check. And yet how many people are putting brown paint on their ice cream?
    Zan595
    Saying it isn't black metal is one thing, but saying this isn't influenced by it is a hard point to make. The alternate picking bit right around 1:50 reminded me of The Somberlain era Dissection, wish these guys would've done more riffs like that and layed off the detuned chugs a bit.
    vppark2
    "machine-gun guitar and bass drum riffs" Assuming you meant "machine-gun drum and guitar and bass riffs" lol. Anyways, good review. I would give it a slightly less score, but it's really not a bad album, aside from the boring singles. I'm actually really surprised this isn't getting good feedback. Any chance on reviewing the new Amity Affliction album?
    toateridax2010
    I'm not really getting the hate either. I'm new to deathcore — I came from Whitechapel and Slipknot — and I honestly think the singles sound pretty good.
    travislausch
    Deathcore is rather popular to hate around these parts, and believe me, I have a hard time getting into most "-core" genres, but once in a while a band will come out with something pretty good.
    theogonia777
    You say that like hating deathcore is solely some sort of trend. It goes much deeper than that. Fans of death metal hate deathcore because it is obscuring many elements of death metal, such as song structure, in favor of more repetitive and commercially viable elements, similar to more -core genres outside of actual hardcore and grindcore. What you get is watered down songs filled with repetitive breakdowns (and very bad ones at that), cliched Iron Maiden-esque melodies that don't really belong in death metal, and boring verse/chorus/breakdown/verse/chorus/breakdown song structures. Deathcore eschews the typical death metal song structures involving developing variations of riffs and modulation of riffs as well as the heavily contrasting riffs that are characteristic of the genre. In short, you are getting a watered and overall inferior copy that looks the sincerity and authenticity of real death metal.
    vppark2
    They're not bad by any means, but they just don't stand out as much to me as the rest of the album.
    travislausch
    Also, yes to the Amity Affliction album, but I'm afraid you might not like my review. That's all I'm going to go into on it. Just remember, it's all opinions anyways, if I'm wrong and you like the album, it's all good. This month's reviews seem to be a bit delayed, to be honest. There's a few backlogged, and I myself had a huge family emergency (mom's had a stroke ) so I've been behind on my reviews as well.
    vppark2
    It's all good. I'm not overly into TAA, believe it or not but I did like most of the new album, maybe just as much as this album, but I can't lie, it's a bit formulaic, and the clean vocals esp still need a lot more work. I just think they're not as whiny as what I remember. I'm currently writing one for Crown The Empire's latest, and as I mentioned above I guess I will do a cringeworthy one for Chelsea Grin. I haven't written a review since last December since I haven't spent as much time on UG lately, aside from a few newsworthy articles and reviews I enjoy. I just moved to Florida recently so I've been job hunting. Sorry about your mom. Hope she is ok.
    Diseeze
    I like this album but didn't like it as much as Die Without Hope, which is honestly one of my favorite albums of everything I've listened to.