Review Summary: Die without more than four chords.
When us music reviewers take on a release in the deathcore genre, we unfortunately run the risk of agitating the larger metal community, so we tend to open the article with some nonsense about how deathcore is an "interesting" or "largely misunderstood" subgenre of metal and that we journalists had to "challenge our expectations" in order to reach a verdict on whatever album they're talking about. Unfortunately for Carnifex's 2014 release, "Die Without Hope
", I'm not so forgiving; given that this record delivers on every contrived and boring staple of the genre, and offers very little as frosting on top of this cake that expired years ago, there's very little to talk about that you haven't already read in countless other reviews of deathcore acts and albums.
The vocals drive the mix of this record, but as a whole, they are dull and unvaried. Carnifex's vocalist is essentially riding the fad that Whitechapel capitalised on back in 2007 with "The Somatic Defilement
", only unlike Boseman's delivery, Lewis' lacks the strong impact that defines the vocal style of swapping between high shrieks and deep, guttural bellows. What results is essentially a flat delivery, which the emphasis provided by the production doesn't do enough to fix. They compensated with louder noise, but it still lacks oomph
- the vocals don't have enough power to compete with the superior guitarwork and the mindless drum fills that make up the rest of the mix when it isn't oversaturated with tasteless distortion. The only time the vocals have any sense of force to them is on the title track's chorus, which winds up being ultimately wasted when the breakdown hits after each passage and they repeatedly stuff the words down your throat until you puke.
Backing up the vocalist like the twin bodyguards of a midget with a Napoleon complex, the two guitarists in Carnifex's repertoire display a mix of technical skill and passionless lack of motivation. These guys can play very well - we see examples of this in the aforementioned title track, as well as "Where the Light Dies". Unfortunately, we see dramatically more cases of boring and uninspired breakdowns and four-chord riffs that showcase just how base this genre can be. The introduction to "Condemned to Decay" is the same recycled musical gibberish that every hardcore band and their mother have tried at some point - it was even displayed to some extent on All Pigs Must Die's "Nothing Violates This Nature
" - so even beginning to listen to that track is like asking for the priest who molested you in the rafters of church to be your babysitter. When they aren't displaying temporary moments of virtuosity and technical know-how, the guitarists of Carnifex are looking like the misused talent they are. If anyone in the band could do better, it'd be them.
The drumming follows the lead (or lack thereof) of the vocal timings and the more boring renditions of the guitar riffs, amounting to nothing more than a wall of noise that usurps the dictionary's definition of 'boring
'. Hailing Cameron as an under-appreciated drummer would imply that he had the capacity to drum well, and I see little to no evidence to support that hypothesis. At the end of the track, the drum fills on "Die Without Hope
" are every bit as uninspired and contrived as the lyrics that accompany Lewis' vocals. The basswork is cut from the same cloth, leading the average listener to assumption that it might not even exist. It is
present, however - it just does a piss-poor job of separating itself from the mix. There aren't even any short passages of the album that display Calderon's style or skill - he is audibly invisible when the guitars are playing even one of their four-chord limits. The bassist may as well have played Atheist-inspired jazz fusion for all I can tell, because of how low he's tuned in the production.
Carnifex are not a band without latent talent; hints of greatness on tracks like "Dark Days" and "Where the Light Dies" spell out the band's technical flair. The problem lies within separating them from the rank and file of their mortally-wounded subgenre, which appears to have gone septic in the past few years. If they were to use the tools at their disposal and carve out an identity for themselves that didn't include a flashy new logo or an artistic tribute to the late Giger, but was actually concerned with musical composition, this outfit would skyrocket to the forefront of their scene and
satisfy those high-strung reviewers that tend to despise deathcore on principle - like me. I gave this album a chance, but "Die Without Hope
" admittedly gave me no hope. Come the next production cycle, they have a unique opportunity to meet a higher standard of quality. I certainly hope they'll take it, if only so I don't have to deal with this crap from such a big name in the community.