by MythofRock

Deathcore band Carnifex from San Diego, California, have been around for almost twenty years. However, they never achieved as wide recognition as other well-known American acts of the genre did. The reason relates to their stuff; their music was always great technically and executively, but not compositionally. All band members were skilled and delivered exactly what deathcore requires, but their early albums were rather typical, lacking the inspiration or distinctive characteristic that would enable Carnifex to reach another status.

Luckily, the band gradually matured, disproving many fans who considered them followers rather than pacesetters of the genre. In their second decade, Carnifex revealed a more interesting orientation, encompassing elements of traditional death metal and blackening their sound, albeit retaining the deathcore roots. In this respect, their ninth album constitutes another addition to the more successful path they’ve followed in recent years, verifying that their previously homogenized works belong -once and for all- to the past.

“Necromanteum” offers utter satisfaction to those who prefer ill-tempered, multi-level technical stuff, with plentiful riffing ideas, solos, and continuous blast beat bombardment (Shawn Cameron performs his duties with all the badassery that the -core element demands). The familiar brutality of American deathcorism flows freely, mingled fittingly with Carnifex’s death/black idiosyncrasy. The Americans invest their time wisely, allowing synths a more prominent, though not catalytic role (a practice we also heard in 2021’s “Graveside Confessions”); keys and orchestral parts add a theatrical and creepy feeling to compositions, making this savage totality a perfect match to the cover art (indeed, the album might be an ideal “companion” for a graveyard shift…).

“Necromanteum” is a deathcore beast that roars, and even melodic patterns have a sickness that negates the essence of melodicism (relevant examples occur in the excellent “Crowned in Everblack” and the homonymous track). In a few instances only you can feel relieved, since a deathcore trick (probably, -and unsurprisingly- a breakdown) always restores violence and heaviness in full force. Carnifex manipulate their materials cleverly; they structure their songs in a way that makes them “difficult”, yet without deterring the listener from delving into them.

Of course, their purpose couldn’t be accomplished without their obvious technical abilities; especially Cory Arford and the new guitarist, Neal Tiemann, have reached other superiority levels. As for Scott Lewis, if you’re aware of Carnifex’s previous albums, you don’t need to read further comments from my part; with his growls and fluency in changing vocal styles, he gives extra points of brutality to an album that doesn’t skimp brutality at all (he’s a frontman who any deathcore band would like to recruit).

Carnifex’s demanding stuff is heard clearly, despite the pandemonium that takes place, due to the usual Nuclear Blast’s production in such cases. Certainly, that’s an advantage that intensifies our perception of the musical context. The ending of the album with “Bleed More” and “Heaven and Hell All at Once” concentrates splendidly what Carnifex do: the demonic, sharp riffage, Tiemann’s solos, the orchestral approach, the sick atmosphere of an abandoned graveyard, and all these under the prism of core-ism.

I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of deathcore, but I think “Necromanteum” provides abundantly all the “peace” and “tranquility” that a deathcore fan seeks (technicalities, intensity, violence). Without doing something unique, Carnifex keep themselves in good shape, evolve the steps they made in the previous album, and “torture” our ears with disharmonies and perversion. Now, they’re among the bands that are worth listening to; if that’s not an achievement, what else might be?

Listen to “Necromanteum” with patience only…

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis

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