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Carcariass - Planet Chaos - 91%

Edmund Sackbauer, January 23rd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Great Dane Records (Digipak)

You might be forgiven thinking that this is just another old school death metal release in the first place. The cover artwork, the font of the band name and the fact it has been released on Great Dane records point in this direction but truth is that “Planet Chaos” is a bit of a different beast. Combining elements from progressive, melodic death metal and even traditional metal this album is a wild ride. What is also an interesting fact is that this band has existed for nearly three decades and while I have not been familiar with them it seems they had quite a bit of a following in the scene before disappearing into hiatus a decade ago.

The main formula of mixing well-known traditional main chords with some more modern chops and staccato grooves is in full force here. Each track has some remarkable riffs that are sliced and diced throughout and pitched against some impressive chunks of lead guitar work. The constant interaction between the crunchy and chugging main chords and the often crazy and outstanding lead guitar is breathtaking. The melodies are often weird and haunting but sometimes also have a more relaxed and slightly melancholic nature. I guess it would be pretty difficult to reproduce all of this in a live environment but on disc it is quite impressive.

The drumming is another highlight with Bertrand throwing in insane patterns while keeping the rhythm groovy at the same time. There are quite a lot of rhythm and tempo changes implemented in each track but thanks to the clever songwriting things never get too chaotic or hectic so that also non-musicians are able to enjoy the music. The relentless drum attacks build a perfect counterpart to the moving and eerie atmosphere built by the guitar harmonies. There are a few moments in which the bass playing becomes more prominent and diverse adding to intensity of the particular section.

The combination of bouncy and complex rhythms and wild melodies is great but often fantastic instrumentation is ruined by weak vocals. Carcariass solve this problem by making half of the tracks instrumental but also by having a competent vocalist among their ranks. Screaming, growling, whispering and singing in enthusiastic manner he helps ramping up the intensity of the tracks where he is part of.

The production is very punchy and quite modern. That being said there is just enough grit and dirt left in the mix to make the music interesting enough for fans of more traditional death metal as well. The slightly synthetic undertone fits the spacey nature and overall atmosphere. Overall this album has been a very pleasant surprise and I urge every open-minded melodic/prog/death metal fan to check this one out.