You can tell the genre of a band by their name, and there’s no ambiguity about the music Carnal Abhorrence play – this is brutal death metal. We’re guaranteed an extreme blast of sonic terrorism and stellar guitarwork, but the question is always the same with this type of metal. Can the artist sustain our interest?
Carnal Abhorrence are not short of ideas on the first half of their sophomore effort. The opening title track is like Deeds of Flesh with pre-programmed drums providing the insane speed rather than a human. Absurd extremities are rare in modern music, but the brutality is so heavy it makes you smirk. You’ll understand after one listen to the vocals, which sound like the alien hunter at the end of Predator when he removes his mask and prompts Schwarzenegger to say, “You are one ugly motherfucker”. If you recall, in this scene the creature spurts a green blood through its nose and makes a sound like a dying whale washed up on the beach. This is the exact vocal style of Nick Loria’s asphyxiation impression but garbled with an audio pitch that resembles a pneumonia victim’s attempt at grunting with a bronchial infection. It may also remind you of the vocals of Canadian black metal trio, Revenge. ‘This Sinister Fuel’ allows you to digest the sound with more ease, but the maximum speed button of the drum machine distracts from what should be a grinding piece of chugging metal. Fortunately, a guest appearance from Rings of Saturn’s Lucas Mann on ‘Encased in Disgrace’ brings some illuminous sweep-picking and finger-tapping to the mix and raises the level of the bass guitar to virtuoso standards of fret-wankery. Now this is what we mean by the term ‘tech-death’. The smirk on your face will turn to an incomprehensible frown.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the gothic keyboard underpinning the neo-classical guitar riffing on ‘The Holy Infinity’. This song inhales and remembers to exhale. Instead of black and red, we get green and yellow and shades of orange in the guitar work. Could this be a blueprint for the birth of an absurd offshoot called melodic BDM? ‘The Butcher’s Shibboleth’ follows with the best crunchy rhythms on the album and introduces a head-swinging breakdown near the end. We’re at the halfway point and still engaged.
However, the experience on the second half of this LP is far less captivating. Tracks 6,7, 8 and 9 pass by in a haze of chunky guitar downstrokes, unintelligible vocals and overdone drum modulations that irk rather than dazzle the listener. ‘Ordained Octane’ and ‘Unholy Mainframe of Disdain’ are standard BDM fare, a bit like unremarkable pub grub in a Wetherspoons on a Saturday evening. You know what you’re getting but can’t remember if you enjoyed it or not the next day. ‘Sycophant of the Throne’ is better thanks to a sprinkling of exquisite pinch harmonics, but even this song falls into the tedium zone despite coming in at less than three minutes.
This would be heading for a 5 out of 10 review if not for the glorious ending on ‘Necrotonic Re-Birth’, the album’s standout track. The lead guitar patterns weave through the classical scales with Beethoven brilliance and bring an extra dimension to the chugging downstrokes. More of this in future could turn Carnal Abhorrence from genre consolidators to genre leaders.
As a duo, these Indiana natives are more than capable of branching out and incorporating more diverse elements into their sound without sacrificing their awesome brutality. Let’s hope they seize the opportunity on their next release and break out from the thousands of BDM bands treading the same deep water.
Release Date: 07/12/2020
Record Label: Realityfade
Standout tracks: Encased in Disgrace, The Unholy Infinity, Necrotonic Re-Birth
Suggested Further Listening: Deeds of Flesh – Nucleus (2020), Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize (2020), Incinerate – Sacrilegivm (2020)