Carnifex – World War X (Nuclear Blast)Thursday, 1st August 2019
Carnifex’s last release, Slow Death, saw the act implementing some arrangements that allowed them to push further beyond traditional deathcore while sticking to their roots. There were still some faults to it in that regard, and it would have been easy for the band to simply follow it up with more of the same for World War X. But instead, Carnifex ups the diversity quotient and brings in more black and death influences while keeping in the breakdowns for long-time fans.
World War X represents a solid step up from Carnifex in terms of songwriting. While there have been plenty of songs that have stuck to the mid-tempo chug and breakdowns above all else, there’s a clear progression in keys and blackish atmosphere as the title track kicks things off with an enjoyable building up of atmosphere before more tremolo riffing bursts through. No one is about to call them the next Emperor, but their employment of blackened influences has made the music more interesting. Later in the same track, they succumb to a meaty breakdown, but it feels more earned by this point instead of being obligatory in its setup. Later in the album, “Brushed by the Wings of Demons” conjures similar vibes, establishing some melodic black underpinnings and contrasting them with more bludgeoning riffs. Stompingly heavy riffs like on “Visions of the End” or “Hail Hellfire” have a visceral death metal edge to them, giving some real immediacy to them while some melodic bright spots become more apparent and enjoyable with each listen. The melodic side is further explored by some of the album’s guests, such as Alissa White-Gluz on “No Light Shall Save Us” or Angel Vivaldi on “All Roads Lead to Hell.”
The strongest writing and creativity that we’ve seen from Carnifex to date, World War X does indeed raise the bar for the band. The increased melodic and aggressive inclusions find themselves on equal footing without losing that deathcore immediacy that the band has long championed. An enjoyable step forward from a band that could have easily decided to coast and ride their coattails if they wanted.