It’s good practice to count your lucky stars every once in a while, no matter how long it may or may not take you. This is especially true whenever somebody else’s misfortune reveals a new constellation. So Americans, while you may bitch and moan about the presidential candidates so unceremoniously dragged to the podium, at least be happy that they’re trying to take the office by peaceful means. Turks haven’t been so fortunate this summer, but even in the wake of a failed coup, they’re still pushing out some pretty decent death metal. Ankara-based Carnophage are set to release their sophomore effort, Monument, and it’s one of the least Unique Leader-esque albums Unique Leader has released in a while.
Though billed as a technical death metal album, Monument has little to do with The Faceless-core being oozed out of southern California every few months. Instead, Carnophage plays a not unsophisticated mix of early-’00s influenced death metal, taking cues from Suffocation and Hate Eternal. It’s not a fantastic formula, but the band follows through, and there’s surprisingly little to complain about on Monument. It’s all a whirl of shifting blastbeats, tightly controlled riffing and frothy growls. Full of energy and blazing anger, “Sparks of The Experiment” channels modern Hate Eternal with nonstop blasting and a buzzing melodic lead, while “Unbroken Fortitude” explores a more technical territory, jumping between time signatures and into mid-paced groove deftly.
While it’s hard to single out anything in Monument that’s in need of an overhaul, it’s equally difficult to figure out what’s special in the LP. I don’t dislike the music here at all; it’s sufficiently brutal, packs in a catchy lead here and there, and at 36 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Yet I find myself having difficulty paying much attention to these songs. Sure, I might have liked a more diverse album, but Carnophage keep things moving at a respectable clip, and when you do pay attention to the music, all the gears are turning in synchronicity.
These songs take some real skill to perform, and the album’s production lets performance shine through. This mix is balanced and transparent, though very tightly controlled. The bass is always present, the bass drum sounds natural and upfront, and the guitars have some real bite. Even the mastering is decent; loud but somehow failing to make the album too much of a bore. This is very much the chicken sandwich of death metal albums; well thought-out and respectable – a good decision. Yet somehow, even in days when I myself was a carnophage, never very enticing.
I wouldn’t hesitate to call Monument a good album. On every level but one, it’s solid. It is technically proficient, brutal, slick, and powerful. It is not, however, interesting, innovative, daring, emotional, or engrossing. I never banged my head or felt compelled to play air guitar listening to Monument. I never heard a track end and needed to hear it again. The hair on the back of my neck laid flat, my gut sat comfortably unclenched. This is the sound of death metal happening to someone else.