Carthage - Salt the Earth
If there's one word that perfectly describes this album to me, it's consistent, even though the album's songs are quite varied at times, they all work perfectly within the album's context. The production is absolutely fantastic, with an insane level of clarity in the mix, considering how much is going on at times. Carthage have managed to release one of the most solid releases I've listened to in quite a while, and definitely one of the top 5 albums of the year for me.
The music can go from melodic/technical death metal to metalcore to deathcore to groove metal seamlessly, sometimes within the same song. Eric Hendricks's roaring on top of it all is magnificent, his vocals supported by guitarists Tre Watson's and Noyan tirlqfrqg- er, I mean, Tokgozoglu's equally crushing backing vocals, as well as Tre's soulful clean singing. Eric's lyrics are surprisingly beautiful and sophisticated, Continuous being a highlight of this.
Something that really deserves to be mentioned, is the band's use of nine-stringed guitars, which provides an incredibly low and devastating low-end. However, not content with simply chugging on the ninth string over and over, the band employs it, as well as the clean vocals, as a chef would employ fine spices, sparingly and tastefully. The clean vocals in this album all fall in the right places, courtesy of guitarist Tre Watson, and at times complimented by the soothing voice of Adriana Galan, vocalist for Forgive the Fallen. These ocurrences all work to fantastic effect.
The album opens up with the track 'Destroy the City' a relentless chug-fest in which the band showcase their aforementioned low-end, before going over to 'Blackout', which doesn't let up the pace set by the previous track. It was also the first single from the album, released in February. Having heard the single and this version, one can immediately notice the progress the band has made production-wise.
'Perception Fails' soon follows, and starts with Eric's bellowing, with quite a memorable riff following. 'The Furthest Thing' one of my favourite tracks in recent memory, begins with minor seconds and proceeds with a hooky riff, then transitioning into a metalcore passage, and then delving into deathcore territory, and then features an excellent clean passage. Another of my favourite tracks follows suit, the unrelenting 'Years & Darkness' which features a consistent death metal feel, and the most crushing 9-string passage on the album towards the end.
'Pushing Forward', a relatively tranquil song, lets up the pace a bit, with extensive clean vocals, before the album begins its siege anew with 'Maelstrom' which begins with a somewhat exotic melodic riff, afterwards diving into staccato riffs punctuated by a melancholic chorus and Tre's clean singing. The band also put out a nice little lyric video for this song recently. 'Exegetics', a short chug-fest complimented by Danza like panic-chords, features the highlight of the album, Tre Watson's laughter.
'To Return' features consistent groovy riffing, and is a relatively conservative metal song, but for the end, which features the elusive 9-string. 'Green' features a fusion of metalcore and balls-out spectacular Meshuggah worship, whether intended or not. Next up is the album closer, 'Continuous' which features a clean intro and numerous spoken lines, before going all death metal, this song closes perfectly with the most beautiful clean passage in the entire album (which is saying a lot).
Another highlight of this song, is the lyrics. Beautiful. That's the only thing that comes to mind, both in content, and in execution. According to my interpretation, they're about reminiscing about someone close, with regret, and with a search for some closure. The final two lines are my favourite in the whole album "As I search the horizon line, I will strain my eyes", give me chills whenever I listen to them. This song is a culmination of the beautiful, enticing, captivating, but most of all, brutal journey which the band has so expertly crafted.
In the span of a year, they have become one of the top bands in the game for me. If you're looking for brutality, if you're looking for beauty, if you're looking for groove, search no further. You'll find all of it and much, much more in this album.
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- Ulises Marquez