King Carnage – Ounce of Mercy, Pound of Flesh
Reviewing Trillion Red’s Metaphere album several months back, and in doing so discovering multi-instrumentalist Patrick Brown’s Extreme Metal past, I made the comment that I would like to hear more of that style of his playing. With King Carnage’s debut, that style and sound has been delivered. Consider Ounce of Mercy, Pound of Flesh a gangrenous filth of sound, decrying the death of the Old School as it angrily crawls out from the black. Most often, releases from those that were ‘there’ during the ’90s (and he was; his former band Ligeia’s 1996 track ‘Oblivion’ will be covered on Ares Kingdom’s next album) remain the only purveyors of grimy DM able to bring something new to the genre without setting fire to its foundations, or boring us all to tears. As Brown’s twist on Black/Death spews from the speakers, heralding guitars overdriven and detuned to the point of deconstruction, an element of catchiness infects the mind of the listener with the right balance of vocal cadence, eerily-hidden synth adornment, and drums content to drive and not jackhammer. Speaking of the drums, Mr Brown’s command of the language of music, programmed or otherwise, shows well here, as his techniques execute admirable time-signatures, fills, crashes and the like, rising above the crest of the mass of cyber-DM warriors, my only bone to pick being the closed high-hat, which in the faster moments of ‘Scions Salvation’ reveals too much of its origin. ‘Lord of Sabotage’ utilizes one of the most odd/compelling riffs I’ve heard in some time (2:15 in if your interested), and ends perfectly with a sullen monk chant drenched in woe, while his own voice – a throaty rasp that lays low in the mix – allows the music to do the work (a production choice I admonish others in the Extreme world to try, biased guitarist that I am). Patrick also uses lessons learned in his Trillion Red project in small but effective doses, employing atmospherics in a variety of unobtrusive ways. Instrumental ‘Archetype of Evil’ is a hammer-on smorgasbord of hellfire backed by a slow march of triplets and a repeated anti-melody that, while uncomplicated, still has you digging your own grave deeper into the dark with its sunken delay and reverb layering. Not that guitar-playing technical prowess isn’t easy to find; closer ‘Making Angels In Blood’ invokes a gone-before-you-hear-it scale in it’s rhythm line that announces proudly to the listener ‘here is one that has more than a passing knowledge’ of the essential stringed weapon of the Metal chosen. But the most important aspect of the King Carnage debut is its balance of originality and influence; a couple of octaves lower, and the solo from ‘Blade Efficacy’ would be appropriately placed on the great To Mega Therion, while the flanged descent that follows the passage is just Patrick being Patrick. So here cometh Hellhammer kicking out Columbia-era Entombed, with a Buzz Osborne bite. With such dichotomy, Ounce of Mercy, Pound of Flesh – other than being Metal – evades easy categorization, and is all the better for it. -Jim
~ by cliftonium on January 23, 2013.