Album: Graveside Confessions
Genre: Death Metal / Deathcore
Label: Nuclear Blasts
Location: San Diego County, CA
FFO: The Black Dahlia Murder, Thy Art Is Murder, All Shall Perish
Carnifex has by now set themselves in stone as a Death Metal great by many people’s books. I’ve been a fan of these guys for quite some time, and they’ve only grown as a band with each release I hear. I hopped on board during a time when you could easily describe them as a brutal deathcore band. Nowadays, they ride the line as a Blackened Death Metal group, while holding onto those brutal breakdowns. Simply put, the best of multiple metal worlds. Ever since that first LP in 2007, Carnifex has had a solid production that I never think twice about even when going back to the classics. Of course however, it is 2021, and the sound quality has only gotten better. Nevertheless, they know how to keep their mix with a little dirt thrown in to come off extra aggressive and not too polished.
We open the album to the singles right in a row, starting with the title track to really set the tone. If there’s anything these first few songs tell me, it’s the sense of style I can fully expect for the rest of the record. The way I interpret it, is a mixture of the previous two, while bringing forth some of the most brutal moments the band has given us, reminiscent of older records. Taking all of these elements, while picking them up and moving them forward into a progression, as the band has been known to do with each LP.
With this came a lot of surprises. The piano in one of my favorites, ‘Seven Souls’, was unexpected but adds so much to the track. It’s an extra layer to greatly appreciate. Even more out of nowhere is the synth in ‘Cursed’. What a crazy inclusion that was very welcomed with how well it worked. Not to mention the chill break with ‘January Nights’ that allowed for some down time in between the chaos. A beautiful composition that has the band doing something I have not yet heard from them.
Beneath the weight of the heavy surfaces on these songs, there’s so much melody packed into them that is there to be enjoyed. It’s what carries these 4-5 minute monsters with ease. Not a moment without being entertained.
All these factors play important roles, but aren't always the easiest to find. Sometimes it takes a couple listens to find all the nuts and bolts. A quality I love; when I get to discover something new with each listen. For example the church organs in the opening song went over my head the first time around. They seem obvious now, but I never mentally addressed them the first time around. Now that I recognize it though, it adds so much to the atmosphere.
Lyrically Carnifex stays on brand with the super depressing and very dark nature. Often poetic in structure and sometimes portrayal. If I had to put my own understanding and meaning to this album as a whole, it is the secrets you die with. The thoughts you would only confess on your deathbed. There’s also a lot of lyrics that almost “break the 4th wall” where he is directly referencing and talking about the song he is currently writing or screaming. How even he is a little lost in what he is saying at times, almost like he’s just writing straight from the gut and not thinking twice about it. Just feeling, and expressing.
Then there’s the “Graveside Edition” songs. Three remakes of songs from their debut album. A pleasant surprise at the tail end of the album. The classic tracks truly come alive and sound better than ever.
One other song I’ll specifically address is the Korn cover of ‘Dead Bodies Everywhere’. In all honesty, I don’t think it should have been included in the album. For one, I don’t think Korn songs should really be covered in the first place because they are too much of a specific sound to kind of make your own. It just came across as weird to me hearing it in this death metal fashion. Along with that, it doesn’t fit well into the context nor the groove of the album. Unfortunately a sour moment for me, but I won’t let that take away from the rest of the album as a whole.
There is so much replayability that it’ll have you appreciating the nuances long after your first few listens. It feels like there is a lot more effort put into this record than previous works. Not to say they haven’t tried on other albums, they clearly have. This happens to feel so much more full. Like they have done this, that, and the other thing, now here it is all brought together into one project. I’m not sure I can say it’s my favorite from them (I really love ‘Slow Death’) but it without a doubt deserves to be in the conversation.
An outstanding performance from Carnifex that blew away my expectations even after enjoying the singles. There is a lot to take away from ‘Graveside Confessions’. I know I’ll have this one on spin for a long time to come.
Strongest Song: Seven Souls, Talk To The Dead, January Nights
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/carnifex/159752070