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Music Review: Carnifex – Hell Chose Me

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If there is one thing you can always rely on from a deathcore album, it is that it will likely be to the short side. There are cases where more is not always better and deathcore is one of them. Deathcore is a particularly brutal style of music — it's kind of like taking hardcore and the violence it brings (in this comparison I am thinking of hardcore like Emmure) and injecting it with a good dose of evil like Venom or Behemoth, for example. The resulting combination of musical gene-splicing may result in a band like Carnifex who seem to go for the jugular and the cranium with their attempts to shock (just check the album art) and bludgeon into submission. Does it work? Somewhat.

I first became familiar with Carnifex in 2008 with their sophomore effort The Diseased and the Poisoned. I somewhat liked that album and the sheer brutality that they brought to the table. They are not and will not be one of the bands that I reach for time and time again, but I can definitely see the attraction of what they offer, just in small doses (again helped by the albums' generally short run times). As I listen to Hell Chose Me and return to some samples of the last album, I am actually impressed with the growth they have shown between then and now. Not a simple feat for deathcore.

Deathcore is one of those genres where you hear one or two good examples and you pretty much have heard it all. The genre does not offer much in the way of experimental wiggle room (of course, the same can be said for many of metal's sub-genres). There is a very narrow band of elements that must be present to fit in here and while other bands may be slipping more into death/black or hardcore/thrash, Carnifex shows that if you tighten everything up and focus right down the center of those elements you can win the day through sheer execution. They do not rely on experimentation, they focus on that execution (I guess it makes sense considering the band name is said to be derived from an ancient word for "executioner") to do the talking for them.

Clocking in just shy of the 35-minute mark they do not waste any time getting right down to the business of kicking you in the head and ripping out your heart. They begin straightaway with the title track, "Hell Chose Me." The twin guitars get the song moving while the energy is provided by some of the most furious drumming you can get. This is a song that shows they are not kidding around with either their brutality or their capacity for evil. Hell chose them, after all. Who are we to argue?

These guys succeed at making the genre feel somewhat fresh while not pushing any boundaries. It is an album that's easy to get into if you like the style with little to really complain about. The drumming from Shawn Cameron is downright exhausting. The guitars, provided by Cory Arford and Ryan Gudmunds, deliver the heavy with brutal riffs, pit-churning breakdowns, and some surprisingly melodic moments. Then there is Scott Lewis who manages to inject a little variety into the vocals. There is the deep death growl and a higher pitched (without being very high) tortured scream. I do not often know what he is saying, but the variety helps the music go down easier adding another element to the sound.

Songs to focus on include: "Entombed Monarch," "Heartless," and "The Scope of Obsession."

Bottom line. If you like deathcore, check this out. Again, it does not change the genre, but it is a solid execution of the core fundamentals. Not to mention the band is improved over their last release and that is always a good thing. Get ready to have your head kicked in!

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