There honestly aren’t too many bands in the deathcore genre I would really consider to be all that extraordinary. Carnifex is not exactly one of those bands, but still I have tracked their career from album to album and have marginally liked them. But after a year-long hiatus taken by the band, they have decided that the time is right to get back in the studio. And it kind of excites me to see all of the new steps they may or may not have taken in their music after a year away.
There is definitely something really honorable about Carnifex, in how they are fine with their label of deathcore and seem to have no problem with it. Vocalist Scott Lewis has stated that they aren’t one of those bands that are trying to escape that label and feel completely satisfied as artists putting out the music they do. They definitely seem like they are writing from their hearts and deathcore is what happens to come out, not what they are intentionally writing towards. So, if you pick up a Carnifex record and don’t expect it to be deathcore, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. But luckily, Die Without Hope is exactly that deathcore.
Everything you love/hate about deathcore makes several appearances in Die Without Hope. Blast beats, chugging, gutturals, and breakdowns with that “brown” chord are main staples for the album and just for Carnifex in general. And honestly, there’s not too much of a noticeable effort to try to be anything other than that. Whether that a pro or con for you, it’s still done very well. Cory Arford and Jordan Lockrey’s fingers are constantly moving on their guitars and it’s never a dull moment. Shawn Cameron holds it down on the drums following their momentum with Lewis at the helm of the charge with alternating guttural and high fry vocals. It’s certainly genuine playing from musicians who know what they’re doing in the field of deathcore.
And to be honest, this is probably the best Carnifex I have heard. There is definitely a higher level of refinement from the band that I haven’t heard yet. Songs definitely aren’t incredibly formulaic and feel more progressive than just riff-breakdown-riff-breakdown-slower breakdown. Also, piano and string interludes are laced all throughout to give it more of a melodic and dark undertone to it all. “Reflection of the Forgotten” is a short intro track to the closer, “Where the Light Dies”, and it’s nothing but a piano and guitar duet to create some tension, and the album even ends with piano as well. “Dark Days” has the best integration of dark melody mixed with all the usual elements of deathcore, and assimilates extremely well.
Though, I would have really liked for those moments to last a lot longer. Sometimes there will be a great section of high-paced metal with piano progressing and building with more and more intensity only to lead straight into a brown-chord breakdown. It’s kind of like hitting a tree while learning how to ride a bike; it just hits you quick and hard, and not in a good way. If these and other elements had just gone on for a bit longer without reminding us they were still a deathcore band, this would’ve been a complete hit out of the park. It’s not because of the deathcore elements themselves, it just feels like these sections are ending quite abruptly without much of a smooth transition.
Overall, Die Without Hope is probably Carnifex’s greatest album so far. The return from their hiatus is definitely not without a little growth and some extra heat. Hopefully it’s recharged their batteries long enough to continue growing the way this album has shown that they have. And hopefully it’ll help them to continue putting out albums like this in the near future.
"Where the Light Dies"