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D-Rate Swedish Death Metal - 50%

Zodijackyl, January 8th, 2013

Carve was a side project of Paganizer, consisting more or less of the same lineup, releasing albums in 2002 and 2004. Paganizer themselves recorded an album and an EP in 1999 as a melodic death metal band, before shifting to old-school Swe-death and recording another album the same year (released in 2001), then cranking out another three albums as Paganizer from 2002 to 2004. Seven albums and an EP in five years is impressively productive, but the haste is quite apparent.

This is a compilation of two albums and three other tracks, which are produced a bit differently but are otherwise pretty similar. I don't advise listening through the whole thing in one sitting, it's not a great way to present the music, though the band has a penchant for compilations, having put out a box set of the first three Paganizer albums and an EP around the time of their fifth album. It's frustratingly long and has no flow beyond a track level.

"Stillborn Revelations" is a lightweight Swe-death album with a nod to the Sunlight sound, but without the heft of Dismember or Entombed. The sound is thick and the guitars are crunchy, borrowing from that distinct sound of their predecessors, but with less bite and lacking the pure brutality of the chainsaw tone and ripping riffs. Reminds me a bit of Comecon, but a more complete effort with less strength in the individual pieces. There's a lot of decent riffs, but none of them stand out much. The riffs don't grab you and pull you into a frenzy, there isn't even a frenzy, just a long march of chunky riffs that aren't unpleasant, but entirely forgettable - not the most appealing thing in a style with more than a few legends and classics, plus another tier or two of imitators who pull it off better than this.

Three weak points plague the album - monotonous vocals that aren't captivating at all, a flurry of forgettable riffs, and some of the least creative drumming in death metal, monotonous enough to be unpleasant at times. The overwhelming impact of Stillborn Revelations is that it's far too monotonous to be interesting, not bad, but not really good either. I think a ten-album Grave marathon would keep my attention better.

The three bonus tracks in the middle follow the same trend, but with a drum machine and slightly weaker production that emphasizes the guitar a bit more. By the time I've heard this much, I'm pretty sure I've only heard one riff for the past 45 minutes, the monotony wears on a lot. I don't advise listening through the whole thing at once unless it's background music while you're focused on something else.

"Revel in Human Filth" is a rougher production, with an irritating ticking drum machine constantly blasting, the same vocals, and a crunchier guitar sound that fits the music a bit better than the thicker tone. A riff or two stands out for a moment on this one, but it is largely monotonous, even more so when played after the first album. The death metal riffs sound a bit better, the groove riffs sound a bit worse. Not a great tradeoff, this one is weaker than the first one. The last track is the only exception - "Fall From Disgrace" has a melodic part that contrasts against the percussive riffing, and it's a great break from the tiring marathon of the rest of this release. The riffs there are particularly good too, quite a surprise considering that the first 70+ minutes were one thing and only one thing.

Both Carve albums give a similar impression - they're monotonous and directionless, riff after riff, with very little variation from track-to-track. One or two tracks at a time, it's decent, but it's simply not enjoyable to listen to for an appreciable amount of time. It really shows that these guys cranked out a lot of albums in a short amount of time, the shortcomings are systematic. There are a lot of bands who do this much better than Paganizer.