Carnifex – ‘Necromanteum’ [Album Review]

Review: Jack Price

It’s been 2 years since Carnifex gave us the bone-crushing Graveside Confessions in all its merciless glory. After touring the album extensively, the now five-piece from California are back with their latest offering, a paranormal peek behind the veil in Necromanteum. The San Diego County boys hold zero punches and give even less fucks. They hit hard, their music on the surface is a brutal flurry of distorted guitars, crashing drums and demonic vocals that I’m fairly certain took years off my life. But then the subtlety of the layering becomes more obvious – ominous choirs, trilling violins and symphonic sounds that add to the universe this album creates.

Torn in Two instantly sets the ominous themes of the album, opening to crashing chords and well placed high-hats before releasing the beast that is Scott Ian Lewis with a bone shaking roar and vocal deliverance before the first anxiety-inducing trill of strings that would suit any jumpscare straight out of a Cliver Barker film. The track is exactly what you would expect from Carnifex and then some. In our recent interview with the vocalist, he explained that the album was more supernatural based, outward looking, focusing on the unanswered questions and less focused on the internal demons and battles, which really shows with the undertones of the cinematic aspect of sound design on the album. The savage breakdowns only compliment the amazing guitar solos of Cory Arford and newly instated, ex-DevilDriver and longtime touring guitarist Neal Tiemann, who thrash and chug their way through the record.

Following the intro track is the vocally ferocious Death’s Forgotten Children featuring Chelsea Grin’s Tom Barber who’s vocals meld with Lewis’s to create a horrifically perfect pairing of brutality. The track begins with aggressive, high-octane guitars paired with the masterful percussion of Shawn Cameron. As the track spews forward with its onslaught, the pace slows towards its otherworldly end but not before another healthy dosage of haunting choir of wailing voices. The pair of vocalists breathe hellscapes with their throaty vocals as the song finally creeps to its final seconds, fading out to feedback from the guitar which creates the intro to the next track, the title track Necromanteum. 

A string quartet accompanied by subtle piano grows with eery choiring before the growling voice of Scott kicks the track off with its necromantic and unnatural motif. Creating re-life and the undoing of nature’s law which in turn creates an undying “darkened afterlife” for the perspective of the vocalist. Unearthly and evil presences are painted in a spectral reality, removed from our own. The usage of ancient necromancy tools such as obsidian mirrors shows the research and passion for the craft of storytelling through music, only solidified by the hellish reality the lyrics song provides as it’s stage.

A moment of tribute amongst the dark artistry, Crowned In Everblack pays homage to the late great Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder. “We will not forget your name” is prominent throughout the track, while the lowly piano sections backed by bass by Fred Calderon add to the weight of the track, the remorse and longing for the fallen comrade the band had toured with, befriended, created a brotherhood with along with his bandmates. A beautiful, brutal testament to a legend indeed.

Necromanteum is a dark and brooding rabbit hole, each track standing out from the last with its own characteristics and personality. The intro to The Pathless Forest with its heavily distorted guitar effects and sweeping guitars through the verse created the menacing backdrop that emphasised the tracks foreboding theme. Whereas How the Knife Gets Twisted is a more aggression forward battle cry. Lewis’s vocal structure throughout the track is different to any other on the record.

As the album closes with Heaven and Hell All at Once, while rightfully a great track to round out the album with, it did leave me wanting more. There is no question as to why Carnifex have endured almost 20 years, the album is a spine-chilling collection of underworldly, forbidden art that sets itself aside from the band’s earlier work, while cementing their position as one of the most renown deathcore bands of all time. The vivid visuals painted by the composition of the record are haunting yet intriguing, the concepts of the torment of reanimation and reality bending scenery make Necromanteum a bloody good ride.

CarnifexNecromanteum is out October 6th viaNuclear Blast Records
Pre-order/pre-save Necromanteum here: