Belgian death horde Carnation unleash old-school blood and guts on ‘Chapel of Abhorrence’

Photo by Sarina Mannaert

The branching out of metal’s sub-genres has been a very healthy thing for this style of music. People have taken traditional sounds and stretched them as far as they can go, yet when it seems the barriers could burst, they find another way around it. That has made for some fascinating music, and it’s made what could have been a stale scene remain vibrant.

That’s also helped bands that want to keep it simple and traditional. There’s still great merit in playing things that way they’ve always been done, as it keeps that path to the roots alive and well. That leads us to Antwerp-based death unit Carnation who are beating the shit out of us on their debut full-length “Chapel of Abhorrence.” If you insist on dining at the table of death metal’s masters, the ones who forged the path for this style of music, you’ll be right at home with this 11-track,  47-minute record that doesn’t feel nearly that long. The band—vocalist Simon Duson, guitarists Bert Vervoort and Jonathan Verstrepen, bassist Yarne Heylen, and drummer Vincent Verstrepen—digs into chaos, destruction, and all the shit we’ve come to expect from death’s ever-flowing stream of infestation, and they do it well.

The record kicks off with “The Whisperer” as feedback and, of course, whispers unwind, and the song begins to unfurl. Gurgly growls and speedy playing make up the bulk of this, while eerie organs spill in later, as Duson howls, “I am the whisperer of doom!” as things come to a bludgeoning end. “Hellfire” has a vicious start, as death drills into your chest, with Duson screaming, “Your soul is broken!” Scorching soloing then goes off, jamming a blunt edge into your chest. The title track has gnarly riffs and penetrating, aggressive playing, while gruff growls and burnt guitars bring the song to a volatile end. “The Unconquerable Sun” builds up and bursts into a cloud of shreds and mind-bending playing. The tempo stomps and crunches, as the growls envelop your senses, and fiery riffs stomp you out. “Disciples of Bloodlust” is thrashing and mean, with violent intent woven into the song, and visions of bodily contortion making bones ache. The song gets into high-power gear from there, while Duson’s words sound like he’s choking on blood.

“Hatred Unleashed” is punchy and harsh, as Duson declares, “I curse you all with endless torment!” Revenge is in the air, as the track ups the ante on torn muscles and violence. “Plaguebreeder” has drums blistering your flesh, as the band chugs, and the song gets heavy as hell. There’s even a bit of a hardcore taste to what’s going on here, making it even more ferocious. “Magnum Chaos” has riffs twisting and growls pummeling, with the band applying ample pressure as the room begins to spin. The guitar work swelters later, with alien-like vocals spilling into the atmosphere before things come to a torching finish. “Sermon of the Dead” is hypnotic and wiry, with the speed picking up quickly and a pulverizing assault delivering the ritualistic hell. “Fathomless Depths” swims in death-doom swampiness, as Duson’s growls are belched out, and the terror bubbles to the surface. “It’s time to say your prayers,” Duson screams, as the song goes out on a funereal note. “Power Trip” brings the record to its end, as it stampedes ahead, the adrenaline surges, and violent transmissions deliver the final blows. The band keeps adding to the torment before things come to a sudden end.

Carnation’s path toward death is legit and ugly, and if you’re in worship to the masters, then you’ll like the shit out of  “Chapel to Abhorrence.” It’s great that death has morphed beyond it’s original form, and we support the hell out of that. But bands that keep the original spirit alive matter, and Carnation are one of the ones that makes this vile nature feel real again.

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