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Carcariass > E-xtinction > Reviews
Carcariass - E-xtinction

Countdown to an Untimely Scheduled Fiasco - 45%

bayern, February 10th, 2021

Chronologically, this bunch are one of the very first French death metal acts, second only to Misanthrope probably, having appeared right after the thrash-turned to-death group (Massacra, Agressor, Loudblast), but really taking their time before switching on full gear in the late-90’s. And not only but they also managed to found another outfit, Mindwarp, around the same time; a not very frequented side-project with predilections towards the death metal realms, too.

The band literally laid the foundations for the advent of technical/progressive death metal acts (Korum, Gorod, Dungortheb, Outcast, Trepalium, etc.) from their homeland early in the new millennium, using the flamboyant melodicisms of Misanthrope as a base, but also adding a hefty doze of complexity and precise technical shreds, their first three outings fairly eventful symphonies of entangled multi-layered melo-death metal, with numerous passages bordering on classical virtuosity. For a good reference point think early Arsis and the Canadians Quo Vadis, but this is more intricately, and more exubetantly woven… a lot of music thrown at the listener who may get lost in the spiral-like mazes constantly circling around him/her.

Certainly, to compose such highbrow works of art it does take time, so it came as no wonder when the guys took a break after the release of their third instalment; one that stretched to whole seven years. However, by the time the album reviewed here appeared, France had become pretty much synonymous with the inventive and unorthodox in metal (in general). It remained to be seen how one of the progenitors of the attention-demanding side of our favourite death would respond to the fairly competitive environment…

albums of the kind are hard to explain; provided that they have been executed by the exact same musicians as those behind the earlier outings… also having in mind that they arrive after a lengthy hiatus. But not to worry too much cause this is still melo-death; only that it has almost nothing to do with the stylized over-the-top exploits from the first three opuses. The approach has been simplified to the point that for more than half the time this sounds like a beginners’ textbook on how to write melo-death, but please read the widely spread pensioner’s melo-death/quasi-death… you know it painfully well, the one established by mid-period In Flames and early Children of Bodom and later picked by thousands of bands; the cheesy fit-for-all tunes, the new millennium analogue to the 80’s glam metal movement. This friendly impossibly catchy stuff that high school students use as the background for their final exams’ preparations, the housewives for their afternoon pullovers/cardigans knitting on the veranda, the beach volleyball folks for their sandy tussles, the night watchmen for their night shifts… certainly, you have the cookie monster vocals, but there has to be something to keep the birds and the rodents away, right?

The other truth is that this does sound like an extinction, a demise of a glorious trend, and the beginning of another, much less interesting one. Seriously, the band fans will listen in wonder to these banal uneventful tunes which also come served with stiffer modern-ish flair (“Chaos and Decay”) at times, the pleasant mid-paced melo-hooks settling in early, seldom letting the odd speedy sweep (“In Cold Blood”, “Domination”) gain inertia. The vivid galloping developments at the start of the instrumental piece “Exulting Pain” sound like a half-deal, but this is just another nod at the afore-mentioned trend, with some hit potential easily detected on the radio-friendly death/power metal/rocker “Revenger”. Yes, expect deviations from the death norm with neither “Threshold to Madness” nor “Dying Today” accumulating enough verve and bite to even be considered on the verge-of-death. It’s all very professionally performed, mind you, like the guys really believed that they could belong with the mainstream, further consolidating that impression by providing instrumental variations of half of the compositions as bonus material… no lofty alterations on those whatsoever.

On the other hand, the simplification process within the more demanding fraction of the death metal circuit became more widespread than expected. Other French outfits (Trepalium, Dungortheb, Outcast) have also started changing gears recently; even Misanthrope themselves acquired a more conventional stance on the last few efforts. Still, an absurd full-on transformation hasn’t been witnessed at this stage, but the one here comes the closest… and not only because the band’s first albums were so highbrow and for-connoisseurs-sounding. The delivery here is tantamount to surrender; the field has been filled with young budding talents, competition is fierce, are there ideas and inspiration in store to try one better than what the band have already done, or to try and surpass what’s available on the contemporary market… but let’s not try to look for those. Let’s produce a surprise instead. Let’s surprise both the audience and ourselves with something uncharacteristic…

yep, a surprise alright; one that won’t be granted another listen. Not by me, not by quite a few other fans I’m sure. The even more interesting thing is that the band repeated the same exercise two years prior on their comeback (of some sorts) stint “Planet Chaos”. Waiting for whole ten years for another insipid quasi-melo-deathorama? Well, the riff-patterns have been complicated a notch but for an over-an-hour saga, also containing a fair bit of all-instrumental pieces, a couple of contrived motifs here and there hardly does the trick. This is very far from an attempt at recapturing lost ground… the guys are miles away from the times when they could bring hell on earth with just a breeze of virtuous vehement vortex-like complexity. Our planet is by no means in chaos… but it wants to be; and these chefs used to know very well how to bring this about.

Technical Death Metal at its best!!! - 98%

J443556, July 10th, 2009

French death metal veterans Carcariass are back! "e-Xtinction" is the follow-up to 2002's "Killing Process". Since this is their only new offering in 7 years, fans have been eagerly waiting for the release. And I am sure that they won't be disappointed.

Production is simply excellent. The sound is full and powerful, mix is perfect thanks to the talented skills of Stephane Buriez (of Loudblast fame, another cult French death metal band). It does not sound weak compared to bigger names, on the contrary it is on par with the best of the latest big releases.
The album's sound and style is quite modern but still you can feel the inspiration from old-school bands like Death, Cynic or Atheist. It also includes many great melodies, powerful riffs, rhythm breaks and not so many blast beats - the album is mostly mid-tempo, however never boring. Whilst similar to "Killing Process", "e-Xtinction" is a whole new level of great sound and songwriting from Carcariass.

Songwriting is great, with layers of guitars (3-4 layers of guitars can be heard on several tracks, not including doubled rhythm lines) adding complexity, melody and much power to the songs. You'll find the Carcariass trademark of layered tapping guitar lines mixed in the background to add to the atmosphere of the song, as well as punishing rhythm guitars with many many great riffs that will make you bang your head and turn up the volume rapidly.
Guitars are simply fantastic. It is a know fact that guitarist Pascal Lanquetin is a virtuoso (think John Petrucci - with balls) so it is no surprise that the guitar lines are amazing.
Bass is, as with previous releases from the band, extremely well executed and sounds great, mixed perfectly so you can actually hear it (it is so often not the case), understand and enjoy the bass lines. 2-finger tapping can be heard on several tracks (it was already used on previous albums) and is always used to serve the track and melody, never to show off or to compete with the guitars (competition would be useless anyway). It is always a nice addition and never a distraction.
Vocals are very good and similar in style to previous albums, although it is clear that Raphael Couturier's (vocals) skills have further improved on this release. Vocals flow perfectly with the music and make for a perfect match of power and aggression.
Drums are obviously triggered as they are surgically accurate but also sound really good, a step up from "Killing Process". Nowadays, which technical metal band doesn't use triggers? The point is that drums on this album sound great and that's all you need to know.

Another great thing with this album - and this is also true for 2002's "Killing Process", is that many tracks are instrumental. And even better news: the tracks that originally have vocals are included here as bonus tracks in an instrumental version as well! And instrumental doesn't mean here that vocals are merely taken away from the mix, guitars have actually been added to fill any gap and the tracks sound as great as if they were actually written as instrumental songs. This is truly excellent. If you're a death metal fan and enjoy the (great) vocals, you can enjoy both versions (with and without vocals). If you're not a fan of the death growls, you can enjoy the whole album in its instrumental version.

My only complaint about Carcariass in general is that I hate to think that by the time they release their next album, I'll be in my late thirties, damnit!

I am not giving them 100/100 because I don't believe that such perfection can exist, but to me this is one of the very best metal albums of 2009.

Favorite tracks: Revenger, Chaos and Decay, In Cold Blood.