Carnifex - "World War X"
Carnifex - “World War X”
Review by Kylin Norton
The death metal band local to San Deigo, Carnifex, are yet again releasing a fret-mangling, skull-crushing, unsurpassable heaviness of an album that sounds like Lucifer himself is arising from the depths of hell. World War X is breaking through as Carnifex's seventh and most well-defined album since 2016, and I couldn't be more stoked. In this record, you can feel your blood straight gurgle from the extreme heaviness that immediately ushers in and endures until the very last note over its short but refined 35 minutes of musicianship.
Carnifex is the one band that you can tell has really pushed themselves forward and expanded their talents, all while bringing the originality along with their distinct sound of savagery.
The album begins with the dark theatric theme of war; the marching of men resonate, while slowly, yet powerfully, coalescing into Scott Lewis's gut-churning vocals, which, from this listeners perspective, at the 2 minute mark if Scott’s vocals don’t make you wince or shiver in fear of their sheer abrasive brutality, then you aren’t alive. The abusive riffs from Jordan Lockrey and Cory Arford begin their assault on the listener while punishing drums from Shawn Cameron, and THICC ass bass waves from Fred Calderon all culminate to a soundscape in which you can almost feel the slam perforate through your lungs and knocks the wind out of you.
After the dark title track of the album, “World War X” it slides into the second twisted song called “Visions of the End”, I enjoyed the song mostly because of the deep chugs and fast-paced tempo which really show that the band hasn’t lost their sense of speed or viciousness, but that solo also has such a harmonic resonance that balance out that pace masterfully.
Following that is my personal favorite track, titled “This Infernal Darkness” the track starts with a concentrated vigor and at 2:54 there’s an almost genocidal breakdown that nearly perforated my eardrums with its intensity and out of nowhere wistfully fades into a piano verse that the explodes into the finality of the track.
“Eyes of the Executioner” (Carnifex is Latin for the term Executioner) feels like a long over due and apt title for this completely blistering and vitriolic track which is a non stop force of nature with every note played.
Now I know many will appreciate something very new to Carnifex- a badass well known female vocalist who has a strong influence in the heavy metal world. “No Light Shall Save Us” features Arch Enemy front woman Alisa White-Gluz. This track will blow your hair back due to her wide range and explosive vocals. The female guest spot, in my opinion, was the perfect addition as it is something that Carnifex has never done! It really adds depth and melody to the bands sonic arsenal. But it also comes with an absolute foray into what the band is well known for, brutality.
It then slams into the next track “All Roads Lead to Hell” featuring Angel Vivaldi (a phenomenal guitarist I must say) this song treads more along a semi groove oriented path of song structure, but when Angel’s solo hits its like a complete melding of styles with Jordan and Cory and their playing and composition style. Or Angel is just so amazing of a guitarist he is able to really coerce himself style wise into any song or band he is able, with an unhinged mercenary like aspect.
This track leads to an adrenaline liberating song titled “Brushed By The Wings Of Demons”, In this song, you can hear the instruments openly fervent to the extreme there are almost angular and disharmonious guitar parts that abound within the opening moments of the song, which lead you into the pure beastial riffs of the chorus. Drummer Shawn Cameron, again, should be noted for keeping the fast-paced, double rhythmic hits that hit hard while also jamming alongside with the impressive guitar solo and its lurching fretwork. And seriously, the harmonic work in this song is so purely reminiscent of the Swedish progenitors while being so consummately intertwined with its own unique American brutality.
Throughout the album there are many smooth transitions from song to song which I really appreciate, the whole album is extremely cohesive and consistent and the added element of the symphonic parts really elevate not just the tracks but the album itself.. The listeners are going to notice a lot of things that have never been heard before when comparing to their past albums. I wanted to hear the difference from World War X compared to the older records, and honestly, I was very impressed with how far the band has progressed to be on the top of their genre!
Now more towards the end of the album is where it really gets heavy. The song Hail Hellfire brings out that hell-slapping bass that Fred is known for alongside yet again the lurching hooks from the guitars, the insane and resonate guitar parts by Jordan around 2:16 are beyond anything the band has ever broached musically in the past. Its like this resonate and dissonant melodic framework that leads into a solo that leaves a pallor among the notes, and in a good way.
The final song “By Shadows Thine Held” adds a soul darkening conclusion to the album, but it completely decimates any foregone conclusion you may have from listening to this album as well as the band itself, it is, in truth, equal parts “Dead in My Arms” “ Diseased and the Poisoned” “Hell Chose Me” “Until I Feel Nothing” “Die Without Hope” and “Slow Death” all which culminates and coalesces into what makes World War X make you want to hit repeat, wrecking your neck all over again.
World War X was recorded impeccably by Jason Suecof from Audio Hammer (Death Angel, Job For A Cowboy, The Black Dahlia Murder) and mastered by the best, Ted Jensen from Sterling Sound (Deftone, Pantera, and As I Lay Dying).
Listen, Carnifex has been around for a long time and has come super far- this isn't their first rodeo folks. Give World War X a listen August 2, 2019, and check them out headlining this year's Summer Slaughter tour with Cattle Decapitation, The Faceless, Rivers of Nihil, Nekrogoblikon, Lorna Shore, and Brand of Sacrifice will support. I know I will be there when they hit AZ so look out for the dates, go to the show, buy all the merch, and most importantly, SUPPORT!!
I give this album an 8/10 mostly because I do wish it was a bit longer than 35 minutes, that's for my selfish reasons though.