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Carnal Agony - Back from the Grave - 90%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 16th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Independent

Are you looking for a fitting album as soundtrack for an upcoming Halloween party? Or maybe in times of COVID 19 it might be a great alternative to stay at home and spin “Back from the Grave”, the second full length by Swedish melodic metal combo Carnal Agony. Songs like “The Witching Hour” or “Werewolf of Steel” will surely get the bones shaking and the pumpkins howling. While overall the music here is pretty straight forward it is also bit of a strange beast, combining classic heavy/power metal with subtly modern influences and even some melodic death metal harmonies of some sorts, but also some nods to pop music and its sugary nature.

The crunchy heaviness of the rhythm guitar is pitched against some fantastic melodies of the lead guitar, lending the whole affair a very uplifting atmosphere. The guys have a great feeling for hooky riffs and highly catchy refrains, making each song just pure fun from start to finish. The songwriting is straight and on point without coming across as being simple or boring. There are some really cool soloing sections, but those parts are never overdone and they have been perfectly embedded into the flow of the respective songs. Overall I tend to say that the riffs and the guitar playing in general are the main star of the show here.

The drumming (done by grandmaster Uli Kusch as far as I understood) is straight-forward and while there are a lot of faster sections and a lot of details like fills or a few rhythm changes to highlight certain parts it never feels nervous or chaotic. The band has put a lot of emphasis on presenting stringent and memorable songs and a nicely flowing album. While the instrumentation is top notch personal egos have to take a back-seat with the songs as such being put front and center.

Most songs are absolutely infectious, grabbing the listener and getting stuck in his ear. Some of the tracks can come across being a bit too overblown and cheesy, with the pompous structures reminding sometimes of bands like Powerwolf etc. Something similar can be said about the vocals, which have that kind of slightly growly character, similar to Attila Dorn or maybe Chris Boltendahl. Most of the time they work pretty fine, but some metal heads might find them a bit tiresome over the course of the album and its eleven full-blown songs.

The production is nearly flawless. The guitars have a crunchy yet clean sound and the drums have a nice punch to them. The mix is clear with each instrument being audible. Special mention should go to the bass in that regard as well. Overall I can only recommend this record to each fan of quality power or traditional metal in general. While surely not without flaws “Back from the Grave” is just pure fun and a fantastic album when working out or driving around in the car.