Californian deathcore darlings Carnifex currently out co-headlining this year’s edition of the Summer Slaughter tour release their seventh studio album. Demonstrating even greater progression since 2016’s Slow Death, World War X sees the quintet expand their horizons as they defy genres in extreme metal. This is even detailed in the album artwork. More complex, there is a symbolic focal point, a skeletal ouroboros: the ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail signifying the infinite cycle of birth and death. Yet it is dead. Forming a wheel of death struck through with bones atop a dais amidst a fiery pit of lava from which demonic, winged beings emerge. The ominous skyscape, brimming with birds or demons in flight and struck through with lightning- which illuminates a dystopian landscape. It’s deep. Created by Blake Armstrong (In Flames– album artwork and The Jesters Curse), frontman Scott Ian Lewis describes it as “chaotic, dangerous, violent, mysterious… much like the album.”
There is greater diversity in the music, where each track is also more comprehensive and longer. But their roots are still strong, with the prevalence of death. The production is superb and the continuity excellent. Although not a concept album as such there is an over-arching theme. The title itself, World War X ( that’s the letter x, not ten in Roman numerals) which denotes the unknown. The internalised struggles akin to a deadly battle, where every track remains in this theme. But this is more than the sum of its parts, with differences in ambience and tension. The production is superb, recorded, tracked and mixed by Jason Suecof (Death Angel, Death of a Cowboy, The Black Dahlia Murder) at Audiohammer Studios with mastering by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound (Deftones, Pantera, As I Lay Dying) the body of work has been built into a powerhouse of metal.
Opening with the brutally heavy title track World War X which incorporates atmospheric and disturbing sounds of war in the form of gunfire, shouts and disorienting helicopter rotors before the military march and bombast commences and destroys all in its path with conviction. Visions of the End bombasts with an impossibly groovy guitar riff and a relentless chugging intensity, peppered with blastbeats. This Infernal Darkness is a return to more familiar deathcore plains, with a melancholic ferocity that build sublimely with very surprising but brilliantly executed piano passages.
Eyes Of The Executioner increases the intensity still further, in a frantic death march with piercing guitar solos.
No Light Shall Save Us featuring guest vocals by Alissa White Gluz of ArchEnemy is quite the marmite track. Personally I am impressed by the unexpected touches of symphonic blackened death metal and the clean vocals of AWG (pitifully underutilized in AE) to create probably the most accessible Carnifex track to date. Obviously the choice of singer will likely drive greater interest in Carnifex, but this is not a gimmick. Melodic, with spacey psych elements, there is far more depth than first impressions might give. While Lewis has stated
‘We’re trying to push ourselves within what we write, not push ourselves to go beyond our genre. I feel that at some point people feel they need to evolve beyond metal, perhaps for popularity’s sake, but I think there’s another way to do it, and that’s just to get better at what you do.’
You can make up your own opinion here
All Roads Lead To Hell features guest virtuoso guitarist Angel Vivaldi which gives a different dimension to the djenty riffs and typical breakdowns that would typically define a traditional Carnifex number. Brushed By The Wings Of Demons is more melody oriented and features some outstanding guitarwork by Jordan Lockrey and Cory Arford. Again on Hail Hellfire there is an epic siren guitar sound, reminiscent of extreme Pantera in its fury.
By Shadows Thine Held closes the album in thunderously portentous style driven by bass. The tension leaves you gasping, urging another spin!
It’s a powerful piece of work, the sound of the degradation of humanity
World War X is available now and can be purchased here
- World War X
- Visions of the End
- This Infernal Darkness
- Eyes Of The Executioner
- No Light Shall Save Us (featuring Alissa White Gluz)
- All Roads Lead To Hell featuring Angel Vivaldi
- Brushed By The Wings Of Demons
- Hail Hellfire
- By Shadows Thine Held
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