Review Summary: Carnifex have finally gotten their shit together!
Having been much maligned in the beginning of their career as a Suicide Silence clone with more extreme metal elements, Carnifex seemed to garner a lot of negative reception early on. However, the difference between the two is that at least Carnifex have been working to get themselves out of this generic deathcore hole they started out buried in. 2010's Hell Chose Me showed the band's potential unfolding quite a bit, but with Until I Feel Nothing, the band's evolution is being revealed in all its glory.
Instead of typical deathcore, we now get something akin to pure extreme metal. The most logical combination heard here is a mix of deathcore, brutal/technical death metal, and numerous hints of classic black metal. The offering is quite short (only about 32 minutes long), but for what goes on throughout the album, that's quite fine. It's a half-hour assault of frenzied riffing, pretty solid breakdowns (for once!), and sudden unexpected tempo changes.
If there's anything that's an absolute leap of improvement here, it's in the more engaging songwriting; the band have stopped using a breakdown every ten seconds and have instead opted for more harmonized guitar work and frayed riff patterns. For instance, look at the first real song on here (the first song is a lame intro), "We Spoke of Lies." Before the tune starts up, there's a really effective atonal harmonic guitar line that introduces it; while it's only about 2-3 seconds, it definitely sets the tone for the pessimistic lyrics and sinister riffing that follow.
That very riffing leads to the other huge positive point: the speed. It may seem redundant to speak again of how the lack of breakdowns is helping here, but it really does. It gives the album a more coherent feel when said breakdowns aren't bogging all of the material down. In turn, the whole record is just an onslaught, the blast beats more effective and the pace smoother. This also helps with the twists and turns in how these songs are written. Half of the time, you never know what's coming up in the song when the whole thing is such a powerful whirlwind of speedy tremolo picking and varied growling from vocalist Scott Lewis. Take "Wretched Entropy" as an example; a standard C# riff starts the whole thing up, but once the fast-paced drum work gets going, the song becomes way more technical and unpredictable. It keeps the listener guessing, and once again, the breakdowns are very limited. When they do appear, they are actually quite effective and don't overstay their welcome.
One song, however, that's worthy of a lot of mention is the closing track "Curse My Name." After the atrocious closers to their first and second albums, this is a very welcome change for the band. It starts out with a doomy riff in G minor, plodding along until it reaches a black metal-oriented riff where Scott screams "pour your hate inside me" at the top of his lungs. Even after that epic moment, the song still manages to be fantastic all the way through, going through one of the best breakdown moments in the middle and containing an extremely climactic chorus with Lewis' black metal vocals. The song is also just as gloomy lyrically as the rest of the tracks, something that's to be expected considering their other efforts.
As for flaws, the most obvious one is that the music still gets repetitive from time to time. Also, even at 32 minutes, the whole thing is still tough to take in one sitting considering how heavy and extreme it gets. It never takes a breather either; it just plows right through without any breaks. A little interlude in the middle would have actually been kind of nice to have, but instead we get an extremely dull and aggravating intro that sets a sour tone for such a great record.
That aside, this is still a fantastic album by Carnifex. They might still be growing, but as deathcore-oriented records go, this is certainly one of the best.