Music

Carnifex: Hell Chose Me

This California-based quintet are lost in the pack of deathcore bands that are popular right now -- and with nothing to distinguish their sound, this new album only helps them stay lost.


Carnifex

Hell Chose Me

Label: Victory
US Release Date: 2010-02-16
UK Release Date: 2010-02-15
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

As a genre, metal has almost always had a whipping boy, a subgenre that constantly gets criticized as being "false" and destroying metal. In the past, it's been hair metal, nu metal, and metalcore. The newest whipping boy is deathcore, the latest trend of bands delivering the most brutal, pummeling, intense music possible. And while deathcore may not actually be destroying metal, it has definitely lost its originality very quickly. Given the number of bands playing that style now, combined with the rather limited range of musical options, it didn't take long for the deathcore sound to become stale and boring. As such, most deathcore bands don't have many individual characteristics, and it's hard to distinguish one from another. Such is the case with Carnifex, a California-based deathcore quintet signed to Victory Records. Their third full-length record, Hell Chose Me, is more of the same from a band already following a very simplistic formula.

Hell Chose Me has much of what you'd expect from a standard deathcore album. The guitars are tuned down beyond reasonable levels for most metal bands, and most of the riffs are very one-dimensional and easily forgotten. The vocals range from basement-level grunts to the much-maligned deathcore "pig squeal", which becomes grating and harsh on the ears very quickly. Neither style makes understanding the lyrics even a remote possibility in most cases. The bass is barely even present in the mix, only becoming perceptible when the guitars aren't playing. The song structures alternate between blindingly fast sections and sludge-laden, impossibly slow breakdowns that last entirely too long to even be called breakdowns. There are even some songs where the entire song is basically an extended breakdown, which defeats the purpose of having one in the first place.

However, to the band's credit, there is an acoustic intro to the track "Heartless" and an acoustic outro on album closer "Genocide Initiative", both of which help to break up the pace and give listeners a short rest from the sonic beatdown. And even with their complete lack of composition skills, the band are remarkably tight with their playing, staying together through very complex time changes and patterns. Most of this is due to drummer Shawn Cameron, who holds the songs together with his razor-sharp drumming technique.

Carnifex do change one thing about their sound since their last album, The Diseased and the Poisoned, and that is their lyrical content. Although most listeners wouldn't be able to tell without the assistance of printed lyrics, the lyrics on Hell Chose Me almost exclusively deal with anti-religion and anti-establishment topics. While these topics are not new in metal, they are not commonly seen in deathcore, since most deathcore bands deal with violence and murder in their lyrics to match the ferocity on their music. In some ways, these new lyrics help Carnifex to gain an identity apart from their peers, but the band will need to work hard to avoid having these lyrics seem like a gimmick to attract more listeners.

Diehard fans of deathcore will likely call this record one of the best records of the year, but for other metal fans who aren't buying into the hype, this is just another in a long series of deathcore albums that do nothing but assault the eardrums of listeners with the same tired breakdowns and dissonant patterns of the past. Carnifex are good at what they do, but Hell Chose Me doesn't offer anything new or different, and like most other deathcore bands, that will always be their biggest shortcoming.

4
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.