Released in November 2021. Re-released on Sunday 1 January 2023.
For fans of Anorexia Nervosa, Carach Angren, Dimmu Borgir.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. But oh! what a cover. This is possibly one of my favourite albums covers ever. Let’s see if this adage is correct in this case.
Carnival of Flesh formed in late 2002 when Dachaz and Dam wanted to reshape the Serbian black metal scene with a sound that escapes the traditional black metal boundaries. Due to frequent personnel changes, the desired sound was not reached, and the band officially split up in 2008 only to be reformed in 2014 as a studio project.
Taking their previously best songs, the band updated arrangements, rewrote lyrics and assembled a new cast to deliver Stories from a Fallen World (2015). Seven years later, the band gathered to sketch out and record a new album, Anthems of Extinction (2022), they say fuelled by profound misanthropy and driven by humanity’s hunger for environmental and social decay.
“Angst” (track 1) kicks off the album with a steady-paced slab of growling black metal with the occasional recitative and wailing guitars. It’s a good start and a track that grew on me the more I listened to it.
“The one” (track 2) has that Diabolical Masquerade style darkness and almost sour-sounding riff that seeps into your soul carried on the winds of the ferocious kick drums.
“Tropical plunder” (track 3) opens with a slow burning, atmospheric, melodic and quite beautiful intro that builds to a thrashing climax that clatters along like a train carrying heavy weapons until it explodes and burns out in a furious conclusion.
“Can of sorrow” (track 4) is a song of three halves: a battered anthem of sorrow that evaporates like mist to reveal a delicate, whispered passage accompanied by a tinkling piano and strings before blasting back into a rumbling and cacophonous conclusion.
“Mask of humanity” (track 5) growls and builds as expected, a bit of a filler track except for the quiet passage a little over halfway through that brings some character and interest.
“Rapacity” (track 6) opens with a chunky bass solo—nice! Again, it’s a bit stock black metal but it’s played well with a few neat riffs, flourishes and sudden changes in tempo thrown in for good measure. It’s a long track at 9′ 05″.
“The great escape” (track 7) begins with an almost punk bass riff that is soon joined by reverbed baritone vocals. It’s quite unique until the track’s black metal wings unfurl to reveal gothic-sounding strings and pummelling drums. As is typical for many of Carnival of Flesh’s songs so far, the song breaks down in the middle to explore a more tender and gentle path before exploding into life again to its final escape.
“Liberation” (track 8) is a warm, growling powerhouse of a track to help lead the album to its conclusion which is the twisting and turning darkness of “Requiem for a world” (track 9). “All that burned has turned to ash / Not a drop left of seven seas / History’s reduced to dust / There’s no trace we were ever here” … the shortest track on the album but it certainly leaves a trace as it quickly burns out.
It took me about three or four listens to this album to finally get it, to enter into it and appreciate its dark and sorrowful beauty. Sure, it’s a symphonic black metal album and I’ve never been too keen on those… although in many ways this reminds me of Celtic Frost’s early dalliances with orchestration, and that’s a good thing.
Just as when studying that iconic cover, the more I listened and paid attention to Anthems of Extinction, the more I heard, the more I saw, the more I leaned into it and let me take it on its journey. Check it out and see where it takes you.
Review score: 80%
MDPR contacted me inviting me to preview Carnival of Flesh’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either MDPR or Carnival of Flesh. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Zach from MDPR, and to Carnival of Flesh for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.