Review Summary: A typical Black Metal album, but with some variance toward the end.
People who play Black Metal can be scary individuals, they can be intimidating, or to some they can be downright funny. Black Metal is a genre which is taken very, very seriously by it's followers and the bands who play it, and an image all it's own has begun to take shape behind this rather strange form of music. For some this violent ambiance surrounding Black Metal is all part of the draw, and nothing better describes this that than the cover of Norwegian Black Metal band Carpathian Forest's 4th full length album "Morbid Fascination of Death". The cover of this album is what first caught my eye and made me look at this CD, because honestly I had never heard of this band before last week. Featured on the cover are skulls, lots of skulls. In front of these skulls is the mastermind behind Carpathian Forest, R. Nattefrost, wielding two machetes in a way which makes you think he's going to decapitate someone. His face is painted thick with corpse paint, a symbolic action which is popular with many Black Metal artists. Man, though, he looks like he's just pure evil. Also gracing the front is the band name, logo, and the album name, all of which have the "t's" in the words upside down, representing the extreme satanism this band puts forth.
The lyric book is an interesting piece of work in and of itself. Honestly, I've always taken Black Metal with some sort of seriousness, but I had to laugh when I was flipping through the lyric book looking at phrases such as "You are nothing, you will never succeed. Give up, it's the easiest way. Take the blade, cut your wrist. You will not be missed, you were merely there." I'm sorry, but this sort of thing really is not necessary, along with the pictures of the band members wielding an arsenal of weapons, most of which i have no idea where you would get, and the pictures of a woman wrapped in barbed wire holding a knife to her wrist. All of this is surrounded by upside down crosses and constant references to Satan, it's hard to believe these guys could be that messed up.
All of that aside, I had no idea what this band sounded like when I began to play the album. To my surprise, the music itself wasn't half bad at all, it was your typical Norwegian Black Metal, nothing really to gripe about but nothing which sets this band apart, besides their over-the-top approach to their image. The track lengths are short, the whole album is only 45 minutes in length, and for 12 tracks that is rather short. "Fever, Flames, and Hell" is a really odd track, not one I particularly liked, it consists of bizzare synth effects with perhaps the weirdest Black Metal vocals I've ever heard. Not to fear though, this track is nothing like the rest of the album, I think it's just there to set the mood. "Doomed To Walk The Earth As Slaves Of The Living Dead" is where the album really begins, with the typical grinding guitars beginning it, showing off how well this album was produced. The vocals on this song are different than the first one, being more like typical Black Metal. The riff is constant and keeps the pace, but it's nothing too complicated or that fast. Carpathian Forest manage to be release a Black Metal album here which doesn't leave you with a headache when it's through, something which you will see within these first few songs. "Through Self-Mutilation" is the next good track, with a good riff to head bang to in the background, with even some sweet guitar work in the middle there, adding a nice touch to the song. This song gives off a really evil tone, more than any track so far.
"Knokkelmann" is probably my favorite song on the album. It's written in all Norwegian, but even though I don't know what the lyrics say it works well with the instruments, you can barely even notice that the song isn't in English. It's performed at a fairly fast rate. Around 1:25 is a sweet part where a great riff speeds up the track as the drums get louder and more frantic behind the guitars, something which throws in some much needed variety to this album. "A World Of Bones" is a slower track, beginning very easily before settling into the main riff. The synths keep a good background ambiance to the song, and it continues at a crawling pace, but you're never bored just because things are changing all throughout the song. It's also nice because it's a longer song, and it's able to become more developed than those short 2:30-3:00 songs. You even get a taste of the bass in this album around 3:40, where it plays a simple chord over and over, but its one of the only times where the bass is really audible during the whole CD.
"Cold Comfort" begins with wind whistling in the background, but then an instrument which I've never heard before in Black Metal is heard faintly in the background. A saxophone. Yes, a saxophone. It adds an eerie feeling to the intro, which consists of piano and softly spoken vocals. The saxophone makes you feel uneasy because it's so out of place here, but yet it strangely fits with everything else that is going on, quite a strange feeling indeed. It's not overbearing, and doesn't play constantly, but you'll know it's a saxophone when you hear it. This song actually never erupts into a regular song, there are no guitars or bass, just the piano and saxophone and those eerie vocals. A good track altogether, quite unique. The closing track, "Speechless" is very good. It combines the great piano playing with the grinding guitars and those cool spoken vocals from the previous song, creating one of the most oppressive, dark atmospheric effects we've heard yet. Piano closes it out, a fitting ending to this dark album.
Overall, this album is good. It's your average Black Metal album from a band which has been around for a good while. At first it may not appeal to some, but listen to this album more, especially the last few tracks, and you will find some great potential here, just waiting to be unleashed. Also don't be driven off by the description of the band or the lyric book's content, because as the saying goes, "Never judge a book by it's cover". I did when I bought this, and while it wasn't amazing stuff, it was worth the money I paid for it and was certainly an interesting album, one worth checking out if you are a big fan of Black Metal, but if you are looking for the best of the best, look elsewhere.
Doomed To Walk The Earth As Slaves Of The Living Dead
A World Of Bones