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Friday 6 October 2023

Reviews: Carnifex, Joe Bonamassa, Capra, La Chinga (Reviews By GC, Matt Bladen, Mark Young & Rich Piva)

Carnifex - Necromanteum (Nuclear Blast) [GC]

Having been around since 2005 Carnifex always offered something a bit different to the usual metalcore that was being churned when the NWOAHM was starting to really take control of the metal scene, they already have 8 solid albums behind them and 9th album Necromanteum is now here to remind you they won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Torn In Two is a chaotic way to start proceedings and it’s really what you come to expect from Carnifex full of chugging metalcore riffs that veer more towards death metal and its flooding with over-the-top atmospherics throughout and throws in a decent guitar solo for good measure and overall it is a promising beginning, we then get Deaths Forgotten Children which has a guest appearance from Chelsea Grin’s Tom Barber and the mix of his and Scott Lewis’s vocals is a thing of savage beauty both complementing each other very well and creating an interesting back and forth of styles musically its really more of what you expect but they do cut back on the atmospherics here and really just unleash a savage wall of black-metalcore brutality. 

Necromanteum is up next, and they have now ramped the atmosphere up as high as it can go and are intertwining this with more solos, beatdowns and riffs galore to craft a beautifully disgusting beast of a song, Crowned In Black goes more down the beatdown all the way through type of route and is a simple, knuckle dragging delight, there is no subtlety or shades of light here this is just pure savagery in all its glory until half way through completely out of nowhere it throws in acoustic section to stop you in your track, this naturally doesn’t last long and its back to the brutality business. 

The Pathless Forest has an eerie intro with a sedate guitar line that then explodes into life, and we get what is probably the most straightforward metalcore track so far and they do chuck in a load of electronics and pitch harmonics but it’s just not hitting as hard as I want it to, its decent enough but just missing something for me, How The Knife Gets Twisted follows the same sort of back to basics model and actually has some straight up hardcore in there also which mixes up the stylistic notes again which is needed because at this point it does run the risk of all getting a bit samey!! 

Architect Of Misanthropy chugs and thunders along at breakneck pace and is another ok but not spectacular song and could probably be at least a minute shorter than it is but, some of the drumming and also the guitar solos on this song are tremendous! Infinite Night Terror has another floaty intro that is rudely bludgeoned by a wave of razor-sharp guitars that continues to annihilate anything in their path and they manage to mix in the more black metal part of their sound into this song brilliantly. 

Bleed More steamrolls everything before it and is an absolute sledgehammer to the face, full of urgent riffs, spot on electronic blasts and more subhuman drums and the vocals sound the best they have so far, the last 2 songs have been cleverly placed to really pick the pace back up right at the end! So, we arrive at the end and Heaven And Hell All At Once closes proceedings in a gloriously death metal style, full to the brim with thick and sharp riffing, drums that pound and crash without any mercy and another great vocal performance to really end us on a high.

This album can go some way to showing that Carnifex are still very relevant in this day and age and that there is life in the old dogs yet, my main criticism is that there isn’t a whole lot of variation going on and in places it can all seem that it just blends into one long song but on the other hand there is only so much variation you can try before you just sound confusing! If you want something to challenge you and make you think, this is not it if you want something to kick the shit out of you and then leave you in a pile of the floor without apologies, this is for you. 7/10

Joe Bonamassa - Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 (J&R Adventures) [Matt Bladen]

Following up one of your previous albums is something fraught with danger for an artist. People may think you're a sellout, or that you've got no new ideas but for most it's a way of paying homage to their roots while also delivering some new music. Or that's what it is in this case. Blues Deluxe was the album I discovered Joe Bonamassa on so it holds significance for me.

A mix of covers and originals, the only one to have survived is Woke Up Dreaming, which is regularly featured in his live sets. Bonamassa tried to keep the same ratio of originals to covers on Vol.2 writing it as a companion piece but also as a way to show how he has improved as an artist since that record.

Most notably as a vocalist, his vocals more honeyed than before allowing covers such as Well I Done Got Over It originally by Guitar Slim to work their magic, his version ramped up with some British blues elements. Elsewhere on the record there's tributes to Bobby 'Blue' Bland and Albert King (I assume played with King's Flying V), the eight covers joined by two originals on this companion piece.

Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again) is the first of the originals and it's a classic Bonamassa blues rocker, while Is It Safe To Go Home was written by Josh Smith who produced this record as well as the acts on Joe's Keeping The Blues Alive label. Smith wanted to write a song to push Joe vocally and he's made him deliver one of the most powerful vocal performances on the album.

With Reese Wynans (keys), Calvin Turner (bass), Lamar Carter (drums), Kirk Fletcher (guitar), and Josh Smith (guitar) all joining in on the fun as they cover Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Bobby Parker and more, Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 is the evidence of evolution for Bonamassa, he's a better player, composer and singer than he was back then, whether it's his own music or finding overlooked classics to cover, anything he does at this point is beyond is whatever the heck he wants to. 8/10

Capra - Errors (Metal Blade Records) [Mark Young]

I picked up Capra’s In Transmission last year following a chance encounter on Twitter / X / Cess pit of eternal stench (other descriptions are available) and found it to be a vital if slightly lopsided offering. Musically it went hard and vocally it was the same but there was a slight disconnect as to these ears it felt as though the two didn’t quite match up.

I confirm that on Errors there are no gaps, no joins. Just wonderful, wonderful noise of a band hitting a creative stride and I love it.

This is ten songs of tightly wrapped, super focused anger that is immediate as it is hard. From CHSF right through to Nora that just rip with Crow Lotus a constantly spitting force of nature, ably supported by some of the most riff orientated Hardcore / Punk / Metalcore you are likely to hear this year or next. Tyler Harper is on fire here, managing to squeeze so many twists and turns into each song without overshadowing them. Tied Up goes everywhere, Silana has some positively filthy stuff going on mixing up pure hardcore and a breakdown that will cause utter chaos live. Absolutely top class.

Trauma Bond slows the pace without losing any of the urgency in delivery until a fantastic speed up as they throw in some classic punk moves and this is further explored on Loser. It’s great because they can do the simple chord movements and its sounds spot on because you know live this will be favourite. And speaking of live performances, in Kingslayer they have a song that should by rights cause spontaneous combustion on the dance floor as it thrashes to an epic gang vocal. Switching over to some tight downpicking before they press go once more and its royal.

Human Commodity is another highlight in an album of highlights with a groove / thrash fused riff build that is simple but so effective providing the base for Crow to spit that vitriol and leading into Transplant with no drop in intensity that started at 10 and stays there all the way through. The breakdown in this one is quality again with no let up from Crow.

The final two are as good as the first two, the worry that they may burn out of ideas just disappears with Obligatory Existence just constantly moving forward, building and building till the end with feedback leading us into Nora, with stripped back sound that explodes into an energetic beast. Here there is an initial break between vocal delivery and the music, feeling like it is slightly out of phase but in a deliberate manner. It sets the final moments up for the introduction of piano but anchored with the ever-present drums courtesy of Jeremy Randazzo pounding away until the end.

The difference between this and In Transmission is just night and day. The development is there, its chock full of great songs, each one has cracking riffs with an authentic vocal delivery that carries all the emotion generated and just spreads it like a flame thrower. It’s a band that is firing on all cylinders, all playing as one to serve the song. And this is the thing, it’s impossible for me to pick a standout because each one is as good as the one before and after. 

That level of craft is further bolstered by the constant that is Crow’s vocals. It just adds that something to it, making It feel more than the standard ‘someone shouting a lot’ genre of metal. There are a lot of bands who would love to be able to display this level of intensity and passion over ten songs without any drop in quality. Love it. 9/10

La Chinga - Primal Forces (Ripple Music) [Rich Piva]

There is not a more rock and roll band in the universe than La Chinga. Their first three albums are just rock and roll parties that are universally love amongst anyone who comes across the Canadian trio. The announcement of a new album was met with universal excitement and great anticipation, especially after their signing with the best label in rock, Ripple Music. How could this connection not be awesome? Well, it physically can’t, because Primal Forces, the fourth and maybe best La Chinga album is here to explain how rock should be done properly, and by properly, I mean with gigantic balls, booze, women, drugs, cowbell, and every other vice that makes heavy rock what it is. People, La Chinga is the modern-day AC/DC, and you all need to get on board before the party train leaves without you.

Right off the bat with the opening track and single, Light It Up, you know we are in for a wild ride, with great guitar work and some fun oohs from the background vocals. The track is total pure rock energy, as are all ten tracks of Primal Forces. A triple Ripple bill of War Cloud, Void Vader, and La Chinga would blow the doors off whatever venue was lucky enough to support such an event. Ride The Dragon is where I get the serious AC/DC vibes maybe with some sprinkles of Priest too. The proto and punk spirit of La Chinga is what sets these guys apart. Bolt Of Lightning will be on my end of year playlist, with the killer riff, AC/DC worship, and the 80s metal catchiness that I can’t get enough of. Backs To The Wall has some Slave To The Grind vibes to it and I am so here for it. 

La Chinga can do the 80s metal thing perfectly, think more Junkyard and Four Horsemen than anything glam, because Witch’s Heart brings both the catchy and the dirty all at once. How about that chorus from Call Of The Wild? Great stuff. Never mind that solo. A Raging Slab type riff drives the southern rock vibes of Stars From The Sky, and I think I can confirm that the band has some Skynyrd records in their collection. The Priest influence returns to the forefront with Electric Eliminator, in which the title even sounds like a track Halford should be belting out. Rings Of Power is the most stoner rock track on Primal Forces and when these boys want to, they can go down that path side by side with some cowbell. Motor Boogie closes us out in grand fashion, a perfectly sloppy stoner slow burner (for them at least) that fits perfectly as the end of this party.

There will not be a more rock and roll record this year than what Primal Forces brings to the table. This is an unabashed, no bullshit rock record that will be blasting from my turntable for a very, very long time. No frills, killer rock, done better than anyone else. Give me La Chinga against any rock and roll band any day of the week and these guys are winning that battle. So great, for anyone that just likes perfect rock and roll music the way it is supposed to be played. 10/10

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