Throughout Your Grouchy Friend’s life there have existed myriad musical passions spanning an expansive landscape of genres. Since running headlong into Iron Maiden, Metallica and Slayer as a youngster, then in the blink of an eye gorging on Death Metal, there was little doubt that Metal would always hold a central position. That said there is just far too much art on offer to sit still and be satisfied with one form of expression. The pandemic fittingly plunged this reviewer back into the deepest of Dead and Blackened waters, but where does the soul journey as life changes? We’ve still uncertainty. We’ve still restrictions. We wrestle constantly with the truth of the failing mechanics of our society when placed under strain. It is this last thought that best sets the scene for an exploration of the work of Carrion. This industrial outfit are primed to release their latest offering “Evangelium Haeresis” [English: Gospel Of Heresy] – a machine that in all ways rasps like the dysfunctional engines of our planet’s socio-political factory.
Founded in 2014 by front-man and main composer Hide Tepes, this once solo exploration of dark electronica from EBM to ambient has since shaped into a more focused industrial beast replete with slicing guitars and a focus on intricate modular synthesis. Where more metallic outfits are known to geek out over guitar with synths as a supporting act, Carrion have most definitely turned that mantra on its head, fixating themselves on originally constructed synth sounds with distorted guitars playing second fiddle creatively, if still branding the results with a metal flavour. The years of evolution have culminated in the band getting extremely busy with two full length releases, 2019’s “Iconoclasm,” followed by their sophomore offering “Testament Ov The Exiled” (2020).
The third, “Evangelion Haeresis” assaults as a simultaneous and all encompassing rasp: the music, the beats, the vocals… everything seems to scrape and claw like a mad thing trying to escape cold steel confines. “Shatter The Seals” is the first song-proper, and it wastes no time in setting the scene. The spoken verse vocal is heavily affected and flat out nasty, the beat strident and insistent, the synths understated, atmospheric and noisy. It is quite clear that there is a careful and deliberate aesthetic at play. Industrial and darkwave will always be close brethren of metal and if the slicing guitar of the chorus serves an excellent reminder of that relationship, the wild vocal sound rips a permanent testament into your forehead like a sonic grater.
Readers of The Wanderlust will no doubt share Your Grouchy Friend’s affinity with Norway, and thus be unsurprised it is that country from which this hellish din springs.
“Revenant” is steered by an addictive, driving drum pattern that weaves impeccably with the phrasing of the screeching vocal – which itself raises to another harsh and unrelenting level on this track. This is was featured as the second single on the lead up to the release of the album, and is arguably its finest song. It pounds along and begs to be let loose at high volume. Public Service Announcement: Perhaps do this on speakers and not your little ear buds or your ears may never recover from being flayed by the searing high-mids.
“Hiss and Weep” (one of three short ambient interludes) and is a perfect evocative lead in to the grating, pulsing industrial rhythm of “Ruina.” The spoken vocal sounds killer in this ominously ambient track – swelling, airy synths to the centre and left of the soundstage create plenty of atmosphere, whilst mechanical hats ticker away within a restrained and wide open mix. It is a mix that affords great space to the vocal and rhythmic elements that rip through with scalpel precision, but it would have been extremely satisfying to hear the bass rumble through with greater presence on this track. The shearing, scraping sounds would have perhaps carried all the more weight for it.
“Absolution” is another stand out, continuing down the path laid by “Ruina” and adding an even greater sense of dread to the palette of sounds. The detail in the synth work does some very heavy lifting on these tracks, although to some extent the listener may not be fully appreciative of the fact. The sounds whir and whine away with minimalist complexity and form the structure of the arrangements in many ways. The whispered vocal on “Absolution” carries a tremolo-like effect that makes the song all the more compelling despite is droning meter.
In what is a wonderful piece of album programming, “Wolves Ov Hades” provides a conclusive cadence to round out the two previous tracks. After the droning tension preceding it, this song feels positively cathartic, taking a departure from the rest of the album both in terms of several sonic choices, and of the guarded melancholic release provided by the melodic structure. In some ways this could have closed the album, a purely subjective take of course, but the feeling of a journey completed was overridingly strong. In all fairness that feeling exists in the actual closer “Follow The Sirens” and a perusal of Carrion’s social media platforms affords one great insight into the structure and execution of the work as a whole.
Stylistically it must be said Your Grouchy Friend found himself pining for a bass drop: some full frequency sections where the sound could just fatten out and explode seemed to beckon from just over the horizon, yet that satisfaction was forever withheld. Possibly this is a deliberate feature of the overall grimy industrial aesthetic, possibly it is a device to preserve frequency space for the detail of the synth sounds… no album is without criticism and this was the area that could have hit harder. As one listens and explores, it becomes clearer that significant space is carved out of the mix for the painstakingly crafted and delicate synthetic ambience to juxtapose with hard beats and razor guitar slashes. Filling the low end may have risked masking some of these elements, so one can understand the artistic choices.
“Evangelium Haeresis” is Carrion`s darkest, most harrowing creation to date. It screeches and claws, like the birds that feast manically upon the dead flesh for which the band is named: Carrion are not for the faint of heart.
Pre-Order the album at https://brutalresonance.bandcamp.com/album/evangelium-haeresis