Review Summary: While "Dead In My Arms" retains a high standard of brutality throughout the course of the album, it loses its own way more often than it should, and really does not break any new ground.
Ah, the new wave of "Deathcore". Its fantastically simple, is it not" Take a singer that can make 3 separate sounds (High, low and pig squeal generally mandatory), add two mediocre guitarists that know the most base concept of harmonies, and are able to bust killer squealies, a drummer that can double kick, and a bassist (Optional). With their powers combined, you have Deathcore. Brilliant isn't it" All of a sudden you have scene girls posing naked for you, writing your name on their buxom bodies, and thousands of drooling fans want to own your hoodies. All this aside, Carnifex's first full length release is really not all that bad, it just really isn't all that good.
As is often the case in Death Metal, the opening sounds of an album is remembered as the statement of intent. In the case of Dead In My Arms, we are left wondering just how much effort went into the writing of this music. "Intro" is one of the poorest efforts at creating an intense opening atmosphere I have ever heard. A grand total of two chords are used, mashed in with some poorly recorded and played double kicking, that just leaves you thinking if these guys are really even a professional outfit. The stock standard open drop tuning chug is just the most underwhelming beginning to an album I have personally ever heard.
Fortunately for the boys from Carnifex however, the album picks up from here. The hopeless "Intro" breaks into a deep chug, which has a full, satisfying tone behind it. The combination of the deep guitar and drumming improved from the intro is a filling sound. The bass can be heard, not well, but it is distinguishable, and this gives it the undercurrent it needs to punish the ears of the listener. "Slit Wrist Saviour" however, like many songs from this album seems to lose its way after some time, where the vocals just become too intense and hoarse for the guitar to follow convincingly. However the song rallies at the breakdown, with what sounds like Napoleon Dynamite saying: "Fine, *** you then.". This is, to be blunt, stupid and unnecessary, and really does take away from the atmosphere of the song.
Sadly though, the random voice clips do not stop there. It amazes me how bands like this can take their own music seriously when they disperse this during their songs. All the atmosphere and tension built up during the song is plainly lost. This then leads into "Hope Dies With the Decadent", and possibly one of the worst individual song introductions I have heard in a long time. It builds up, and explodes, into a stupid mass of clashing chords and shouting, and is really just thrown in a heap. Death Metal really requires a lot of finesse to pull off convincing sounds, and this is a fantastic example of what not to do. The song does improve after this, especially after 3:00, when the melodic riffs start coming in more. It almost moves me to headbang, however by this stage this album is lost on me.
"Lie To My Face" is a notable improvement, and in all honesty saved this album, because at this stage, I was thoroughly unimpressed. Again we see a random sound clip thrown in, this time a frustrated "WHAT THE ***!". The lyrics in this song just sound like "LIE TO ME!" screamed over and over again in different tones, however it has its desired effect. The song climaxes just before 2:00, with all instruments stopping for a vocal line, spat with brutal intensity, followed by a crushing break back into a fantastic breakdown. The album is starting to move uphill, slowly but surely!
"Love Lies in Ashes" has the best intro on the album. This is true deathcore, this is Job For A Cowboy in Doom. A notable improvement. However after the intro, the song loses intensity, and struggles to make ground, really only cutting into a good riff at 1:40. The song continues, and everything begins to sound a little too similar. That open riff, palm muted breakdown is present in every single song, and begins to tire the listener.
An important part of music is diversity, however this album really lacks it. There is no change. Everything runs along at similar pace, and sounds similar. These guys really do love their breakdowns, but they use them so much they begin to lose intensity. Each song bears distinguishable similarity, and the listener can really start to lose interest after the 5th track. In my honest opinion, once you've heard the first 4 tracks, you've heard the entire album. It just continues rehashing the same old styles until its closure.
A notable change in the course however comes in "Dead In My Eyes", with a phaser laden riff, clean guitars, and talking. However, this is a standard in this genre, my only recommendation is that it should have been included sooner as a break. The title track "Dead In My Arms" is truly an appalling piece of music, and the boys from Carnifex seem to lose their direction. This is common on first albums however. Still, when a blatant Deathcore band starts including Black Metal styled riffs over exaggerated Death Metal style vocals, the song really does not work as well as it could. A really depressing ending to a really mediocre album.
While "Dead In My Arms" retains a high standard of brutality throughout the course of the album, it loses its own way more often than it should, and really does not break any new ground. Think Whitechapel plus Job For A Cowboy plus every other Deathcore band out there on MySpace at the moment, and you have this album. Quite frankly, its getting tired. The pig squeal used to be fantastic and brutal, but its bands like this that are sending it to the grave faster than it needs to be.