Review Summary: Depressive hardcore done right.
As the title to their 3rd full length implies, Cara Neir are a horrifically bleak band. “Portals To A Better, Dead World” may be the most depressing title I've come across so far while going through the genre of emo, and it’s also one of the most appropriate. And looking through Cara Neir’s influences you can see why they’re such miserable bastards. Stretching from the likes of hardcore (Alpinist), to metalcore (Converge), black metal (Bathory, Darkthrone), Grind (Discordance Axe, Pig Destroyer) and Screamo (Orchid, Funeral Diner, and Portraits of Past), Cara Neir have a plethora of miserable bands to draw their inspiration from. These influences go far in explaining not only why Cara Neir are such a moody band, but why they’re also so brilliant at it.
Cara Neir have seemingly drawn from all their influences, as “Portals To A Better, Dead World” is an interesting mix of black metal, screamo, and hardcore. Atmospheric black metal vocals are howled over straining hardcore riffs and blastbeats, faint screams fade in and out through the background and a sense of overwhelming despair is put out. Thankfully these influences are mixed around in different ways. There are shorter, more hardcore and screamo influenced songs; although the black metal influence is still there, songs that mix all the influences together into standard length tracks, and one monolithic 10 minute track that is more post metal in form. But the overall sound of "Portals To A Better, Dead World" is extremely consistent. It would be appropriate to say that their influences are seamlessly mixed without any aspect warping the general sound or themes.
The last song is a testament to this, breaking down from a monolithic 7 minute post metal influenced track to a repeating riff and haunting lyrics of “atoms splitting, callous thickening, bridges burning, paradigms shifting, something's building”. This is all shrouded under a disturbing mix of feedback fading into a sample which horrifically declares that “humanity is evil”, there’s no life anywhere but earth and that “we’re alone”. But, it wouldn't work if that sample was at the beginning of the song or even at the beginning of the album as it would most likely come off as pretentious. The build-up of misery that occurs throughout "Portals To A Better Dead World" justifies the crushing finale as it simply feels like the natural progression of the album.
In short, “Portals To A Better, Dead World” is depressing hardcore done right. It doesn't suffer from the melodramatic, overwrought lyrics and pointless chaos that many emo bands indulge in, as every aching riff, howl, and blastbeat feels like it should actually be there. Quite simply, Cara Neir excel at misery.