Viscera – Carcinogenesis (Unique Leader)

Wednesday, 29th March 2023
Rating: 10/10

Viscera’s debut, Obsidian, was one of those rare treats where your expectations were blown away easily (mostly due to the use of the word ‘deathcore’) and it only gained traction as 2020 continued on.  It seethed with energy and rage, but was still multi-faceted enough that you could latch onto the melodies just as much as the sweet, sweet adrenaline rush it left in its wake.  Last year, the band released only a 2 song single/teaser featuring “Sungazer,” which was by far my favorite metal song of the year, and a shockingly good cover of Radiohead’s “Climbing up the Walls.”  So anticipation/expectations were through the roof in terms of what the band would provide this time around.  Somehow, those expectations were not only met, but smashed entirely once again.

Carcinogenesis is the type of sophomore effort that you can only wish for from many bands.  It loses none of the caustic venom of its predecessor, and instead rounds out their sound with an even larger multitude of sounds and influences to create a new feeling that all but stomps all over their debut.  The opening title track doesn’t take long to burst, opening with an eerie yet grandiose nature that instantly shifts gears with the bellowing roar of “Carcinogenesis” and bringing up some heavy riffing.  It’s a very deathcore-inspired opening and it completely works, because they don’t stay in that realm for long – instead moving into more blastbeat and blackened tech noodling in a melodic and slightly gloomy way, complete with a notably catchy solo in the later half.

When they do flex the deathcore muscles with breakdowns, they are earned instead of expected, giving them a more violent and impressive flair that likeminded bands have trouble matching.  Later track “Lex Talionis” braces the listener for such a moment by tempering the mood with explosive drumming and intense riffing in one of the most forwardly aggressive cuts of the bunch, but touching it up with some graceful moments of melody at the chorus – sticking to that more epic yet foreboding sound that they seem to dwell in.  What the track builds to, is one of the biggest and most earned gutpunch breakdowns this scribe has heard in recent memory.  When Jamie Graham barks, “To lose my fucking mind,” it’s all too infectious to do the same at max volume.

The melodic end has been augmented as well, upholding the high promise that “Sungazer” peered into.  Melodies come in different forms, from the eargasm noodling of “Omnipotence” that grabs your attention with tech-prowess, to the stomping grooves that make up “Demon Queen.” But the song that truly shines in this area is “Layers of Skin.”  A track that is more groove-based at the start, the chorus really opens it up in a more modern metal way that aims towards the catchiness of melodic death metal at its finest.  Graham’s shouts and the guitar melodies sync up well, and instead of diving back into the same grooves, they somehow sprinkle more intensity to them so that the track builds tension yet dropping off some cathartic release at the same time.  That build up and tension comes to a head later in the track with a throttling tempo that all but gives goosebumps on each listen.

Truly, the way that Viscera plants highs and lows, tension and release, and the overall songwriting is nothing short of impressive.  Each track feels urgent, but still dosed with melody and mood, not to mention so much furious aggression that it does feel like you can just listen to it with a particular feeling at times and have a different takeaway.  Listen for the melodies and hooks, listen to the dark and eerie atmosphere, or listen to it just to enjoy the adrenaline rush.  Each is just as valid and will provide significant enjoyment.  Most importantly though, that same sense of wonder and urgency sticks around.  Having clocked over 25 listens at the time of writing this, it remains just as thrilling and explosive as on first impression.  You can stomp around with a song like “Rats with Wings,” or dig into the bleak atmosphere on the closing “On Earth as it is in Hell.”

Lastly, it’s really a full band effort showcased on Carcinogenesis.  While Graham’s vocals work some acrobatic extreme metal ground from rumbling growls to intense shouts and impressive cleans, it only works because of the outstanding and varied influences that the instrumentation chews through, particularly in digging deep into both brutality and melody.  It’s quite early on in the year, but with the extreme metal slurry that Viscera has come up with on their second album, you’d be hard pressed to find something with this precise mixture of unrelenting heaviness and blissful melody in a single package. An intense listen that will still find ways to hook you in for a long time to come.

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