Carnifex is a new name to me, but the Californian Deathcore quintet has been playing loud and thought – provoking music for quite some time now. It was back in 2005 that this outfit was first formed and, since then, the lads have been providing a steady flow of full length and singles releases with the support of low-budget labels such as This City Is Burning and Victory Records.

The band is now in the process of making a very important step in its career as its latest full length album, entitled “Die Without Hope”, is soon to be released through Nuclear Blast.

If I am to be honest with you I was not hugely excited when I realised that I had to write a review for a Deathcore album – still I decided to soldier on and give this ten track release a fair and impartial assessment.

Well, even though “Die Without Hope” did not miraculously turn me into a fan of said genre, it provided me with plenty of admiration for this band. You see, Carnifex are not one to play by the rules; rather, they seek to bend them – something I have always found an admirable quality.

Though certain elements typical of the Metalcore scene are the foundation stone of each of the ten compositions of the album, these lads are confident and knowledgeable enough to employ Swedish sounding riffs and cosmic keys (yes, you read right), thereby adding much character and style to their music.

Though featuring an eerie industrial-style intro and the kind of groovy riffs that I really enjoy, opener “Salvation Is Dead” is an interesting and fairly predictable composition, something that cannot be said for its far more flamboyant successor.

Opening with a imposing piano tune and mixing its meaty riffs with layers of orchestral arrangements, “Dark Days” is a truly inspiring song that really stopped me in my tracks. It is the combination of seemingly incompatible formulae that these guys aim to feature in their music and, while in some cases the end result is quite rewarding, in others it leaves much to be desired.

While I found the incorporation of keyboards in the Morbid Angel-influenced “Condemned To Decay” to be quite an ingenious move, this quality is not repeated with the less adventurous trio “Hatred And Slaughter”, “Dragged Into The Grave” and “Rotten Souls”.

Luckily for the listener, the last section of the album offers more quality moments, with “Last Words” being a short but well-structured., classic-sounding Death Metal piece and with “Where The Light Dies” proving that Deathcore can actually sound fairly exciting in the hands of the right group of musicians.

I’ll be honest  - when I started listening to “Die Without Hope” I did so without any hope whatsoever of enjoying it, but Carnifex’s fifth studio album provided enough moments of skill and flair to make me warm to these Californian screamers.

Even though I am not quite at the point of calling myself a fan, I am delighted to see that there is at least one Deathcore band out there, willing to take a few risks and present the listener with what I feel are fresh musical ideas.

Let’s hope that this is the beginning of better things to come.

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