Carnifex is a band that likely needs no introduction, but for those uninitiated, they’re one of the pioneering American blackened deathcore bands, founded by frontman Scott Ian Lewis and drummer Shawn Cameron. While their themes have always been dark, dramatic, and heavy as fuck, the band is also known for their ability to take a lighthearted approach to the genre and break conventional stereotypes: highlights include their release of a hot pink hoodie, a cutesy chibi valentine’s day t-shirt, and a “Carl-fex” design featuring Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger force. They’re also famously friendly and open to fan engagement, with members frequently coming out to meet fans after shows (for free!), doing livestream Q&As, and interacting with fans on Instagram.
Anyway, Carnifex is back on the stage with a new album, released October 6th. While Carnifex‘s last album, “Graveside Confessions” leaned into their deathcore element, Necromanteum is darker, richer, and features more blackened elements – if I didn’t know Carnifex outside of this album, I’d say they were a black metal band, much more closely resembling Behemoth than Whitechapel.
The album kicks off with “Torn in Two,” where you can immediately tell that this album is different. I can definitely hear the Dimmu Borgir influence, especially in the orchestral flourishes, though with more aggressive blast beats and gutturals it’s certainly much heavier and darker than most Dimmu Borgir nowadays.
One of the things that particularly impressed me about “Necromanteum” is the perfectly nuanced balance with which it wields three very different sets of musical technique. Carnifex has always crushed the classic deathcore vibe with tightly knit bass and the aforementioned blast beats, but “Necromanteum” also features symphonic tropes common in horror film music that are executed in a potent way that I haven’t heard in the forefront of their past albums. And it doesn’t end there; the third trope I particularly appreciate is an element common in melodic death metal, where long death growls are underscored by melodic instrumentals, and balanced by aggressive percussion. Track four, “Crowned in Everblack,” – a beautiful tribute to the recently passed Trevor Strnad – is a fantastic example, with each of the three tropes introduced sequentially, then gradually intermingled throughout the song.
Harmonically the album heavily features chromaticism – while I’m always on the lookout for madrigalism via tritones (in 100 years we’ve apparently not progressed past tritones representing the devil), harmonically they make more use of semitones and fully-diminished seventh chords. These are strikingly beautiful in the final track, especially in “Heaven and Hell all at once,” parts of which remind me acutely of Carach Angren‘s “Charlie.”
One of my favourite tracks on the album, though, is “Bleed More.” In contrast to the harmonic focus of “Heaven and Hell all at once,” the beauty and power in “Bleed More” is drawn more heavily from rhythmic duality, with a heavy juxtaposition of syncopated chugging with long drawn out gutturals over symphonic texture.
The whole album gives me wicked halloween vibes, right down to the eerie album art of a haunted house enshrined in green and purple glow. It’s a beautifully dark piece of sonic art.
Release Date: 6th October 2023
Label: Nuclear Blast
- Torn in Two
- Death’s Forgotten Children
- Crowned in Everblack
- The Pathless Forest
- How the Knife Gets Twisted
- Architect of Misanthropy
- Infinite Night Terror
- Bleed More
- Heaven and Hell All at Once