Carma – Ossadas Review

I bet you never guessed there would be a review on this godforsaken site about street tacos and blackened funeral doom simultaneously, but here we are. Carma Ossadas Carne asada: delicious marinated steak and king of street taco lore. Marinated in tangy citrus and fragrant garlic, sprinkled with cilantro and pico de gallo, and served on warm corn tortillas, it offers flavor and satisfaction in full measure. Similarly, probably, Carma’s Ossadas attempts to etch themselves into black metal/funeral doom lore, offering the tender steak of robust dense doom riffs soaked in the zesty black metal, sprinkled with harrowing vocals, thunderous percussion, and a melancholic atmosphere to assist their sophomore effort’s cemetery-centric concept. Is it as tasty as a street taco?

Carma is a quartet from Coimbra, Portugal, also home to Ossadas’ muse: the Conchada Cemetery. This burial site is not only of morbid intrigue but also packed with architectural interest, serving Coimbra’s wealthiest families as far back as 1860. In true funeral doom fashion, Ossadas1 is as majestic as it is morbid, melody coursing through each movement as the black metal sharpens the mammoth doom riffs. Taking after the organ-abusers of Skepticism or Mournful Congregation, as well as the ritualistic vocal chants of The Ruins of Beverast and the heart-wrenching melodies of Saturnus, Carma succeeds in a patiently unfolding, devastatingly heavy, well-balanced and tasty platter of carne asada tacos, with just a bit more seasoning to it.

Balance is Carma’s best asset with Ossadas, crushingly dense riffs balanced out by a scathing blackened sting, and a solid melody upon which lengthier songs are built. Tracks like “Jazigo,” “Paz,” and closer “Saudade” strike with slow motion intensity, brutally slow and excruciatingly dense riffs dominating, as sharper movements of melody guide its patient destruction. Meanwhile, “Memoria” and “Destino” are more subdued exercises, recalling Saturnus influence in wailing guitar melodies and clean plucking to provide rest. The guitar tone is a clear winner in Ossadas, as the key balance between black metal and funeral doom is found within. The riffs are distorted and scathing, while never foregoing devastating heaviness. “Paz” is a great example, the blackened lead creating a call-and-effect response with the mammoth weight, and chugs adding an adrenaline jolt following a reposed ambient portion before returning to the emotional weight of its central melody balanced by tasteful bass lines. Bolstered by bassist Nekruss’ varied but tastefully subdued vocal attack, relying on lower range roars and gravelly gutturals given a black metal reverb-laden background presence, Ossadas’ focus on interpreting funeral doom with blackened flavor elevates Carma beyond the kvlt abuse of Nortt or the synth abuse of Ethereal Shroud.

Ossadas’ only fault is also its greatest asset. Carma strikes a great balance between all its elements, elevating its crushing doom with blackened edge, passages of calm and weight equally distributed, but this interpretation draws very sharp lines and denies any movement from the established template. As such, Carma offers rock-solid blackened death/doom with an emphasis on weight, but its elements don’t always hold up individually: slow enough to be doom but not always slow or lurching enough to be funeral doom, black enough to be called “blackened” but little else, and guttural and low enough to be death metal but not traditionally blistering. What some call balance can simply be called limbo or lack of commitment, depending on the listener. Furthermore, it’s clear that the organ abuse of Skepticism is something Carma would like to emulate alongside its dark ambient synths, but due to the density of their sound, it is only noticeable in the “Leirão” intro and interludes. Even then, the keyboard pad comes across as disingenuous in spite of providing respite to the crushing sound around it.

In great street taco fashion, the meat of Carma is a force to be reckoned with. The longer tracks strike a fantastic balance between death, doom, and melody with just enough blackened sting to make things interesting – but this can come across as a lack of commitment or rigidity. You could make the argument that Ossadas is too long at an hour and eight minutes, but this is doom we’re talking about. I was reminded of classic Swallow the Sun with Carma, with all the melody and morbidity to boot, plus a blackened edge. While taking inspiration from cemeteries is nothing terribly unique beneath doom’s black cloak, there is much grace in this interpretation. Perhaps not the most unique carne asada taco you can find, but an undeniably tasty one that you’ll go back for.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Monumental Rex
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 3rd, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. Portuguese for “bones.”
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