I cannot think of any metal band that has transformed like Carnifex. A mediocre deathcore band that had its influence over the genre that evolved into one of the best extreme groups around since their 2014 release Die Without Hope. Some bands take years to find what defines them, and these California boys have honed in on their skills to unleash an emotional monster that must be heard by all death metal and deathcore fans.
The title track should give a sense for the whole album, and World War X certainly does. Carnifex goes to all-out war in total darkness as Scott Ian Lewis takes a different viewpoint on depression and suicide, a subject that has become a staple in his lyrics. An unapologetically heavy opener that sets the tone for the eight other beasts that are waiting in their cages.
Visions of the End dives into the apocalypse head first. The most brutal and one of the most relentless tracks off of the seventh release from the metal veterans. A black metal inspired atmosphere lingers in the background. Every member has a specific moment to shine from Fred Calderon’s concussive bass playing to one of the many impressive solos from Jordan Lockrey.
Setting aside some of the depressing tones, This Infernal Darkness brings out the hate. Emphasizing the band’s skills at creating an atmosphere to complement their skull-crushing instrumentation as Shawn Cameron smashes his drums, the Lockrey, Calderon, and Cory Arford play violent riffs. By far the most epic sounding song that has a showcases the band’s grand production.
Taking a twist on the sound from Die Without Hope, Eyes of the Executioner mixes nostalgia and the evolved style that has been formed for World War X.
Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy comes on for one of the best collaborations I have heard from a metal band in years. Instead of feeling phoned in, her cleans and screams is more collaborative. She brings a lot to No Light Shall Save Us that complements the rest of the band who already played out the groundwork for an essential track in their catalog. This is what the metal scene needs to step up, artists truly working together instead of some quick guest work that feels rushed.
Guitarist Angel Vivaldi hops onto All Roads Lead to Hell, a track that perfectly weaves surprising new sounds for the guitar work along with a vibe that blends Hell Chose Me and everything to come since that 2010 release. Melody and rhythm hold the sixth track above Carnifex standards while having one of the heaviest breakdowns in years.
Dragging my ears into hell, in the best way possible, Brushed by the Wings of Demons, relentlessly beats me down. The violent nature settles down for a methodical solo from Lockry before going back in for the kill.
Hail Hellfire matches Brushed by the Wings of Demons with a similar personality, while still pulling out some shocking sounds that I have never heard across any album from these deathcore experts. This song alone proves these self-taught musicians have come a long way from their 2007 debut, Dead in My Arms.
No big conclusion happens, By Shadows Thine Held emphasizes the stance of the album and delivers what is expected from modern Carnifex. While it might be a bit anti-climatic for an overall epic journey of extreme heaviness, this closer still stands tall.
Lewis’s continues to focus on mental health in a raw manner that gives an honest look into what depression looks like. It might be redundant after all of these years, but the vocalist continues to grow in his writing and vocal abilities to avoid overly reiterating his message. Lyrics aside, he will always be one of the strongest vocalists in metal.
World War X defied my expectations with its many surprises. It beats out the already masterfully crafted Slow Death while still not beating out Die Without Hope, which will likely stay as my favorite album due to it selling me on the band in the first place. The seventh album is a masterpiece with nonstop hits.
Buy the album: World War X
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Image via Nuclear Blast Records