Monday, January 16, 2017

Carved - Kyrie Eleison (2016)

I have been meaning to cover this one for a while now and I knew that I couldn't simply hold off any longer. When I first saw that Italian metallers Carved were described as “melodic death metal” I didn't really expect much seeing as many melodeath acts just seem to copy each other these days, but this one really blew me away. According to Metal Archives, Carved are actually considered symphonic death metal and the SepticFlesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse similarities are certainly here, making this act seem like a bit more than just a normal melodeath act. There's also a bit of a folk element here, which brings up obvious nods to Amorphis. Symphonics obviously lie heavy on the record, combining with folk elements to make it seem as if some sort of monumental war is being waged through each of the tracks. This is also produced with such a clarity that Carved do not feel like some bottom of the barrel underground act that you simply forgot about, instead they're the kind of metal act that has the ability to rise to the very summit of the mountain. What I like most about this record is how bombastic they've made it, almost reminding me of early Battlelore. But that bombast doesn't seem to come into blandness like Ex Deo for example, and it instead measures a sort of satisfaction in it's attention to detail. Carved aren't necessarily trying to be the most brutal act that ever smashed you in the face, and would prefer to dazzle your ears with many different shades of color and flavor. The guitar solos on this one are simply astounding at times, and when they double with the piano as in “Malice Striker” you can certainly feel the very passion on this album. That's not to say that they've completely stripped out pummeling sections of death metal, there's just a bit more offered here in lieu of bands who seem to only know how to do one or two things on an album. Yes, I know that a drum kit can be played realitively quickly to sound uncompromising. But there's more that can be done with a kit than that. There's also more that can be done with a bass guitar than to creat thick, heavy grooves, but some bands just want to throw everything into downtune and seem to forget that people love to hear the sound of a guitar simply played well. I get that with this album. Damiano Terzoni and Alex Ross (Souldeceiver) perform the dual-axe wield that decorates that point to me, and it decorates it beautifully. Unlike some reviewers out there, I haven't forgotten that a big part of heavy metal still lies in riffs melodies and leads, which Carved have not forgotten about.

Christian Guzzon performs both the harsh and clean vocals, with bassist Lorenzo Nicoli performing the backing growls. Their style is definitely more tinged to death metal, but that doesn't mean that Guzzon doesn't get a full-on clean moment in “Heart Of Gaia” which offers a much different side to the band than we might have expected judging on the previous cuts. Some bands would be content to continue the metallic onslaught throughout, but giving us a little more as Carved tend to do, is just what separates them from so many of their peers, even the more popular of those. The band also manages to mix saxophones together with djent riffs and hefty growls on “Swamp” which comes off as something else I wouldn't expect. Another thing I wouldn't have expected is the band's cover of The Bloodhound Gang's “The Bad Touch” which is going right on my phone playlist right after this review. Not only does it have the Carved touch to symphonics, but the death growls actually translate well into the rapped vocals, and the guitars actually emulate the keyboard sections in the original piece quite well also. It's definitely folkier than we expected, but much more interesting than some of the out of touch covers Andy Rehfeldt has done lately. It follows the tone of the original, which I love.

It's safe to say that Carved have much to offer to fans of symphonic death metal, folk instrumentation and unexpected pop covers. There is an increasingly large amount of bands jumping on the symphonic death metal bandwagon, but these guys actually know what they're doing. As with most records of it's type, it could use a bit more differentiation and is certainly no Mystic Places Of Dawn, but what is these days? Kyrie Eleison is a disc that gives us more than most bands in this genre, at least those I've heard for the past couple of decades – and that's a good thing in my book. It's the band's sophomore album and shows that they're still going strong. It would be great if someone recognized them or even decided to review them (reviews are a bit scarce for this one) but often acts, even of a great caliber get left behind for more popular or more heavily publicized acts. Don't worry though, as Carved are just as good as any of those bands, if not even better.

(12 Tracks, 63:00)


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