Review Summary: Is it a parkway? Is it a prom queen? No, it’s Carpathian. And they’ve less to offer than either of them.
Some music only works properly in a live setting. It’s much more interesting, for example, to watch a jam-oriented band perform in concert than to listen to them on record, as chances are it may get very boring very quickly. Dance music, as another example, comes to life when a band rocks the block-rocking beats out to a sweaty, dancing audience. Continuing this argument, we move to the focus of today’s lesson- hardcore punk music, specifically Australian.
Rarely do any of the dime-a-dozen- or, twelve for ten cents- bands on offer provide anything on record that is substantial and truly worth engaging with. In a live environment, however, it is an entirely different story. Flying high-kicks, ground-punches, throw-downs, walls of death, Power Ranger-style swings and flings of the body and limbs…and that’s just in the mosh itself. It truly is a spectacle to be seen.
From Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, Carpathian have built their selves up on such a show. They certainly put all the passion and guts that they have into what they do- at this year’s Soundwave festival, as one of only three Aussie bands on the bill, they reportedly managed to draw significantly large crowds over, even creating a infamous wall of death at the Sydney leg that rivalled the one created by headliners Killswitch Engage. After many years and several line-up changes (including, at one time, “The Notorious” Michael Crafter), Carpathian have finally delivered Isolation
, their latest release. Unfortunately, this offering does not pack even half of the intensity and energy of a Carpathian show- not even closely.
The first problem that comes to mind is the band’s throat, Martin Kirby. He often struggles to keep his head above water with such a loud band behind him, and he does not help this by incoherently barking like some rabid baby-eating dingo, with a sound that literally sounds like it hurts. His voice has no unique flair, and the only coherent word generally picked up in the album’s length is ‘fuck
’. Even when the gang vocals come out (“Sirens” is the best use of it on here), or a guest vocalist appears, there is nothing really redeeming about this album vocally.
The environment that the rest of the band surrounds Kirby with is just as hit and miss. Whilst unquestionably well-executed and tight for the genre- this is certainly one of the more polished Aussie hardcore releases out this year- the vibe of the downtuned guitars, inaudible bass and and crashing drums simply seems a little too familiar. “Ceremony” is your average Drop B angst anthem, the call to arms of the title track is mercifully short, and “Sprials” is, fittingly, perfect for the circle pit, but become droning and uninspired when not slamming into other angry, shirtless men. The band even kill potential when it surfaces- “Dead Beats from Dead Hearts” begins with an intriguing riff, but quickly plummets into yet another fist-raised and pissed-off slow number. Hope isn’t entirely lost, however- “Seventyk” sees the band expand to horizons wider than their contemporaries would dare. The track’s instrumentation recalls the Deftones, with an added effect-laden heavy rock flavour. The guitars even discover melody in a brief moment of hope. Elsewhere, however, it is just a case of less having heard it before, but more having heard it done better.
After roughly twenty-five minutes, Isolation
is a thing of the past. Chances are you’ll hardly notice, however- this falls short of the mark on too many occasions to be really worth anyone’s time.
Perform this in-front of a hungry, violent crowd with bucket-loads of passion and energy, however? It’s certain to succeed.
Shit, I’ll be there.