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Tuesday 7 September 2021

Reviews: Carnifex, Goatskullt, Xfears, Solemn Lament (Reviews By Lee Burnell, Paul Scoble & Matt Bladen)

Carnifex – Graveside Confessions (Nuclear Blast) [Lee Burnell]

In a year where Deathcore continues to grow from strength to strength, Carnifex have continues to evolve adding synth and blackened elements in their material and in return, have created a brutal behemoth in Graveside Confessions. Graveside Confessions offers both new and remastered material which showcases both their strictly deathcore style alongside their more progressive, blackened synth. The album doesn’t mess around from the beginning, Graveside Confessions dictating the pass from the off and deciding to go full pelt and adding a lovely deathcore groove at around the 1:05 mark. A stella opening track to kick off a stella album. Pray For Peace showcases a mixture of both old and new Carnifex with a hint of Suicide Silence’s Inherit The Crown

The album’s first filthy offering comes in from Cursed. Heart pounding drumming and technical eerie guitaring sends shivers down my spine along with a haunting bridge. So far, I’ve noticed that each song seems to emit a different mood but with an overriding theme of anger. We’re treated to an instrumental halfway through in the form of January Nights which to be honest, doesn’t hit the mark. Continuing, the pace is immediate kicked straight back up in Cemetery Wander and keeps going until they tackle Korn’s Dead Bodies Everywhere. Carnifex aren’t the only band in recent times that have taken on a Korn classic with Suicide Silence covering Blind in their Live And Mental album and like that, the cover falls just a bit short. I feel like it could have been a bonus track or an EP but to me it didn’t feel like it belonged on the album. 

Things get back on track with Cold Dead Summer and my pick of the album, Alive For The Last Time. Carnifex show fans remastered or “Graveside editions” of classic Carnifex songs with Collaborating Like Killers, My Heart In Atrophy and Slit Wrist Saviour getting the treatment from the bands solid back catalogue. Overall the album scratches an itch of hearing both old school Carnifex and what they offer with more progressive blackened aspects and I can’t wait to hear the band showcase this material as part of their co-headline tour with Chelsea Grin as part of their UK tour in February 2022.

Dead Bodies Everywhere was the weakest link on the album alongside January Nights but Carnifex continue to go from strength to strength with each release. A solid. 8/10

Goatskullt - Tevras (Self Released) [Paul Scoble]

Goatskullt are a three piece from Helsinki. The three Fins, IcŇęcundus on Bass and Guitar, Jon B. Barbatoz on Drums, Keyboards and Programming and Zaisswar Sielusurma on Vocals have been making loud, nasty noises together since 2017, in that time they have made 2 Ep’s and a debut album in 2018’s Refuse To Exist. The main part of Goatskullt’s sound is Second Wave Black Metal, so think Dark Throne, early Immortal or early Ulver; Blast Beats, Tremolo Picked riffs and lots of savage nastiness, recorded in a fairly Lo-Fi way. To this add a healthy dose of Punk/Hardcore sound and attitude, in places the rhythms are pretty close to a D-Beat style. The other way this is similar to Punk/Hardcore is the run time, the whole album comes in at just over 21 minutes, so it turns up, kicks you in the bollocks and then immediately runs away laughing.

As I mentioned before this is recorded with a fairly Lo-Fi way; the Guitar and Bass is fuzzy and treble heavy, the drums are in your face and aggressive and the vocals are Harsh and very nastily visceral, particularly in some of the slower sections, the vocals also have a slight processed and distorted sound which gives the whole thing a little bit of an Industrial feel. Most of the material is a mix of very fast Blast Beats, savage Tremolo Picked guitars and unhinged vocals, and slower, punky sections that are no less aggressive and nasty. The only track that diverts from this path is the track Ruho which is very slow, purposeful and driving. The song feels relentless, slow but unstoppable; like a runaway bulldozer.

Tevras is a very enjoyable piece of very nasty Black Metal. This album is savagely fast and nasty, with great riffs and blasting, and when it isn’t it’s just as sickening. Tevras does unpleasant Black Metal very well, that is all it does, there's no progression or development of their sound, but if you like nasty Black Metal then this is an album for you. To be honest I have the feeling that Goatskullt are far too busy necking Special Brew and waving their bullet belts in the air to care about progression. 7/10

Xfears - The First (GSC Music) [Matt Bladen]

Despite being formed in 2002, Brazilian prog metal band didn't actually start releasing material until 2017. Led by Gabriel Carvalho (vocals & keys) along with two founding guitarists Marcelo Monterio and Gilmar Cazagrande one of their first releases was a cover of Believe In Nothing by Nevermore, it's included here, and while it's a decent cover Xfears' own songs are much better. This is because the band are built around the virtuosity of the keys and guitar playing, they work off each other well with the kind of unity you get from Stratovarius, Kamelot and Symphony X. Gabriel plays all the keys here, using them as a lead instrument throughout bringing a classical touches on Take Control as well as some twitching synths and symphonic elements on No Regrets. Gilmar and Marcelo fuel the songs with some heavy riffing and excellent soloing. Driving the heavy prog metal of this album is the engine room of Richardo Roque on bass and Douglas Polents on drums who power along numbers such as the trashy Take Control and Hell Is Here. It's not all loud and heavy though Endeavour has a very melodic sound to it, very Symphony X! An impressive debut from Xfears that's been a long time in the pipeline, but it's a record that will appeal to lovers of progressive metal that has a classical/symphonic twist. 7/10

Solemn Lament - Solemn lament (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

An American band with a UK influence, US doomsters Solemn Lament are a collaboration between vocalist Phil Swanson, drummer Justin DeTore, bassist Drew Wardlaw as well as guitarists Adam Jacino (lead) and Eric Wenstrom (rhythm). This EP is their debut release and they have been dining out on some of the European doom metal legends such as Cathedral, Witchfinder General and Electric Wizard while also tipping their collective beard to Pentagram. It opens with a nine minute Celeste a long, slow, slithering doom track which pretty much sums up what Solemn Lament do as a band that are almost a homage to the doom originators I talked about. The instruments were recorded at Big Bad Sound in Los Angeles while the vocals were recorded at Solomon’s Gate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It's not all doom and gloom as Stricken takes things back to a melodic sound with some acoustic guitars ending the EP with a relaxed style. For a debut EP, this gives you an idea of what Solemn Lament can do as a band, classic sounding doom metal but they are not afraid to shift away as well. Bodes well for a full length. 6/10 

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