by Sunnyvale STAFF
February 28th, 2023 | 5 replies

Release Date: 03/03/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Riffs to die for

Portuguese metallers Carma’s self-titled debut album, released in 2015, flew under the radar but became quite a memorable release for me. Bringing a notable blackened edge to funeral doom, the record set itself apart not only through its well-executed pacing and the simple strength of the tunes, but also by its highly unusual (for the genre) brevity - under forty minutes in total.

For eight long years, those under forty minutes were all the music from Carma we had on record. But no more. Ossadas marks the fruit of the intervening near-decade, and presents the band in a different light. Here, the black metal influences which were so vital on the collective’s previous venture have steadily dwindled away. More generally, though, the sophomore effort sees a far grander vision at play, with a sprawling runtime to match (nearly double that of its predecessor). Does this expanded scope work in the band’s favor? Well, yes and no. Ossadas might not achieve the coherence and ready accessibility which Carma provided, but it’s certainly a worthwhile listen for those inclined towards the ways of doom.

For those readers who don’t speak Portuguese, the name affixed to the record translates to “bones”. It’s a fittingly morbid title, all the more so because Ossadas is styled as a concept album of sorts, based around the historic Conchada Cemetery in the band’s home city of Coimbra. As such, the album tackles a wide range of moods connected to the subject of death: not only darker emotions like fear, anger, and grief, but also, on occasion, more mellow feelings which can arise from the tranquil confines of a graveyard, like solemnity and thoughtfulness.

The album’s nine tracks, as such, run the gamut. Each trio of songs is led off by an instrumental, these serve as ambient, ghostly mood-setters. The other six tunes are primarily long-running jaunts into doom metal, but remain fairly varied in execution. “Jazigo”, for example, is a lumbering beast of a track, full of heavy riffage and ritualistic vocals. Its stronger moments are some of the album’s highlights, although admittedly the track’s momentum is somewhat squandered by a near-silent interlude in its middle section (even if the eventual pummeling return to heaviness is quite satisfying). “Paz” is also notable, utilizing quicker tempos to produce a steamroller of a march. Later in the tracklist, “Monumento” offers a few hints of the black metal influence which were so effective on the debut.

All in all, Carma should be lauded for their ambitions on Ossadas. Their sophomore effort might be a bit too wide-ranging for everything to land perfectly - in general, the heavier moments tend to be most memorable, and I’m not sure at least some of the ambient sections are truly necessary. There’s a lot to love here, though, not just for people who like headbanging (guilty as charged) but also for those philosophically-minded who like to see a sound work of art come out of humanity’s endless struggle with death. My tongue-in-cheek final assessment, then… You and everyone you’ve ever loved will inevitably pass away, but the flip side is that centuries hence, some enterprising musicians might draw some inspiration from the tombs of you and your kin and comrades to create some jammin’ tunes. That’s immortality, right there.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2023


Album Rating: 3.7

Album releases this Friday, Mar 3rd.

It's a bit uneven but definitely worth checking for the doom contingent!

March 1st 2023


Ugh such a boring start to the year these last 2 months

March 6th 2023


Album Rating: 3.0

This feels very underdeveloped and raw, to me. Like the early nineties stuff when they were still trying to figure shit out. It isn't bad, but it's a bit minimalist.

Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2023


Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah Willie, this is definitely more on the minimal side... I kinda like that edge of the genre, but perhaps not for everyone.

March 15th 2023


Good to see Portugal represented here once in a while! And of course this album has to have a track called "Saudade", being a word that only exists in portuguese and encapsulates the album's feeling perfectly (it means the feeling of missing someone/something)

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