Review – Carma: Carma

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  • Bio: "Funeral Doom/Black Metal from Coimbra, Portugal." - Bandcamp
  • Label: Self-release, Labyrinth Productions (Tape)
  • Release Date: July 10th, 2015 / October 1st, 2015
  • Genre: Black Metal, Doom Metal, Folk Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Portugal’s Carma is a relatively new group composed of Everto Signum musicians Æminus (bass, guitar), Igniferum (drums), and Nekruss (vocals). The project came to life in 2011, taking a good four years before the trio entered the studio to record their self-titled debut for a July 2015 album, which stormed through the metal community of Bandcamp upon release. Since then, Labyrinth Productions took notice and picked up the effort for a small cassette run at the start of October of this year. But does this recording really stand out from the many other funeral doom metal groups out there, or are the blackened traits enough to make Carma stand as a pivotol recording for the style as a whole?

While it would have been simple to go the raw/analog route (and perhaps a bit more effective in a way) Carma bring a largely crisp sounding effort to melancholic life with their self-titled debut. The effort mixes together oppressively grim and depressing funeral marches with subtle hints of black metal thrown in, as well as beautiful church organ styled instrumental pieces on par with the mystical atmosphere of Burzum‘s .midi keyboard days, though without that technological and jail cell restrictions in place. The moment “Sonhos” starts, you feel as though you have stepped into a church in the early nineteen hundreds, surrounded by mourners as you stand in the aisle, staring at the casket of a loved one that lays before you. Chills turn the blood in your veins to ice as you choke back tears over this metaphorical person [which is all the more impossible not to do if you happen to have lost someone you deeply cared for recently] before being thrust into the first abrasive performance of the release.

“Procissão” suddenly explodes through the sadness, though not in a manner befitting speed, but rather suddenness. The slower pace and mixture of raspy and snarling vocals act more like an awakening sermon at a dark temple that begins out of nowhere. As the song begins to establish itself, however, some of the hooks that come through in the passages, made quicker through additional fills and bass kicks from the drum kit, present a subtle folk presence. This additional music style can be felt throughout the rest of the effort as well but, sadly, is interrupted here by a sudden drop to near silence, relying on softer bass chords and hushed vocals out of nowhere as the song begins to pick up steam. While it matches the generally sad tone of the performance and would make for a fantastic instrumental track all its own, it’s hard to look at this slowly maturing performance cutting to acoustic folk passage as anything more than filler for the sake of extending the track’s life beyond the eight minute point.

“Feto” has another little bit of acoustic folk style material at the start, which does a great job at being deceptive for what’s about to hit. While the doom metal aspect that follows may not be the most hard hitting, the trudging pace does make you feel as though you are crawling to your own grave, only giving a few moments of reprieve with well intertwined bouts of electric atmosphere similar to the track’s start. There’s also hints of heated black metal influence to those hooks that adds a nice dose of refusal to accept your impending demise as you glance up to the sky come five minutes in and stare at the beauty of the sun against the rich forested landscapes as far as the eye can see, taking in the scenery one last time before closing your eyes and accepting that final breath.

“Adeus”, however, brings that keyboard presence back for more of a dark ritualistic closing. The blunt eighties synth effect works to create a magic filled realm for the listener to explore, and some of the background notes make it eerily playful as well at times. Consider a gothic horror laced with the visual aesthetics of Labyrinth or even Troll, and you’ll get a decent idea of what this night time faerie adled instrumental of whimsy has in store for the listener. What can’t be accounted for is the colder undertones that basically envelope you come four minutes in. The nightmarish drums in the background make it a turn for the worst in the sense of slipping from this fantastical reality to a much more hellish scenario, eventually gazing at large, dilapidated buildings and a society of less-than-welcoming beings shuffling about their every day lives just trying to survive.

Other than the very few times you’ll feel like the band is trying to pad a song out to reach a specific length, Carma stands as a solid mixture of blackened folk and doom metal mastery. Between songs that leave you crawling to the nearest tree stump following a battle for your life as you feel it slipping away from you, to memorials or funerals held in the most sinister of churches or temples, it’s impossible to say you won’t feel something walking out of this experience. Carma definitely have a good idea as to where they want their sound to go, and given how well executed this debut outing is, there’s no denying the trio will only continue to grow more powerful as time carries on. Regardless the version you happen to hear, Carma is an album that is well worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of crushing doom metal.

Carma

Digital review copy of this release provided by Labyrinth Productions.