Review Summary: "Die Without Hope is probably most frustrating in that it reeks of wasted potential"
Though it’s a total cliche to make note of deathcore’s less-than-stellar reputation, said cliche is an annoying necessity in the case of Carnifex’s latest opus Die Without Hope
. There’s a curious sense of deja vu here, given that the album is being hailed as an apparent migration from the doldrums of deathcore to its more accomplished big brother death metal. Carnifex have – supposedly – gotten their shit together
. Wind the clock back four years, and you’ll find the exact same praises being lumped upon the dreary Hell Chose Me
. Whether a case of amnesia or shifting goal posts, the idea that Carnifex aren’t
still firmly rooted in the ways of deathcore is a little ridiculous. Die Without Hope
, while an improvement, is another underwhelming album from a band that continues to be their own worst enemy.
If early tracks such as “Dark Days” and “Condemned to Decay” were fair representations of the album as a whole, you could be forgiven for thinking Carnifex have made genuine strides. Though mundane chug-riffs and breakdowns still pervade the band’s sound like a virus, there is an increased attention to detail regarding the tremolo picked sections, and – believe it or not – a strong melodic presence. But once you get to the title track, Carnifex appear to regress back to their old ways, and the album quickly loses momentum. One of the biggest problems is Scott Lewis’ almost constant vocal presence, while his low-range growls are quite solid, his highs are comparatively weak. This is worsened when the two are – quite often – layered together to form an unintelligible and grating mess. Perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise though, because the lyrics that can be deciphered are laughable at best. Themes such as resentment of both one’s self and others as well as petty violence and revenge are rampant throughout Die Without Hope
, with plenty of four-letter words thrown in for that extra dab of brutality
Die Without Hope
is probably most frustrating in that it reeks of wasted potential. Carnifex’s fervent for breakdowns notwithstanding, it’s no secret their instrumental aptitude has always been their biggest asset, but their collective mentality as a band routinely neuters potentially great songs. Tracks like the aforementioned two, as well as “Hatred and Slaughter” and the closer “Where the Light Dies” all contain energetic, infectious, melodic riffs and blast-happy drumming, but the overall execution of each song renders them inconsequential. All too often the riffs and drumming form a support mechanism for Scott’s annoying vocals, as opposed to taking centre stage as they rightfully should. As a result, the riffs aren’t able to capitalise on the dynamism they show, at least before a breakdown predictably stops the music in its tracks, forcing each and every song to continuously kick-start themselves over and over again to no avail. Even then, a lot of Carnifex’s misdemeanours could have been forgiven if it weren’t for tracks such as “Rotten Souls”, a lethargic exercise in second-rate brutality with some atrocious lyrics to boot. Amidst all the stifled capability, its numbers like this that reaffirm Carnifex haven’t, and probably never will evolve beyond mediocrity.
The only thing this album represents for Carnifex is a superficial stylistic tweak, while refusing to extend beyond the inherent – commonly stigmatised – banalities of their respective genre. Die Without Hope
could have been something noteworthy, but instead the band’s conscious effort to limit their scope leaves it feeling exasperated and hackneyed.