Review – Hackneyed: Carnival Cadavre

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Review – Hackneyed: Carnival Cadavre
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Hackneyed: Carnival Cadavre
Death Metal
LIfeforce Records
August 30th, 2011
Release length: 41:36
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Hackneyed formed back in 2006 in Germany, and right out the gate signed originally with Nuclear Blast Records. After two full-lengths through that label, the band was picked up by Lifeforce Records for their third studio full-length offering, Carnival Cadavre. After some mixed feedback from the general Metal public and press with their two previous efforts, Hackneyed really need to put their best foot forward with this release, and given they signed to a label known for releasing sleek and rather stylish efforts, it comes into question if that will play a part with the overall quality of the final product to Carnival Cadavre, and if so, would it impact the album in a positive or negative way?

Well, first of all the production is thick and heavy, coming off pretty muddy, and in no way holds that cleaner sleek or stylish sound that Lifeforce Records is known for, which is a great thing given the music that lies ahead. The album starts off with a suiting introduction to the madness entitled “Raze the Curtain”, which begins like an old black and white record playing against a carnival worker from the days where carnivals and side shows were a largely common thing. Right away the voice shifts from casual human to a more sinister French accented voice that talks about tearing people limb from limb before the music kicks in. This isn’t the only time this carnival aspect is referenced, as that type of music in the same grainy record style appears again at the end of “Coulrophobia” for no real reason, as well as to close out the album on the final track “Holy Slapstick”. This short period of music instantly brings on a sense of the band Illdisposed, though more with some heavy yet traditional groove-laced Death Metal opening riffs throughout the very short song that, at times, can feel more like they are laced with a bit of Metalcore or Deathcore. This feeling actually persists through the album, but it’s in no way bad as they still retain a dominant traditional Death Metal foundation, and are immediately make the listener’s head bang along to the music involuntarily. The gutterals are deep as well and come off very brutal, remaining this way throughout with some nice layering effects here and there of a higher pitch scream or a pig squeel that appears at certain times, but in no way becomes overused or holds the album back.

While the music has a general groove to it, much of the recorded material here also goes along in a chugging fashion, which isn’t too bad at all considering how heavy it is and the simpler nature of the music. Hackneyed also manages to keep enough changes in the music to keep the listener content on many tracks, but that doesn’t work out to every song. Some of the main tactics to shift up the sound are very similar to those on the next track, such as a certain bridge that finds the guitars slowing down a bit and focusing a lot of cymbols from the drum kit to offer a different experience for a bit, the main sound of each track comes off more chugging with a groove to it, and the chorus is always a little more intense and typically follows the same amount of verses as the previous song. Of course the addition of some squeels here and there happen, and “Damn (You’re Dead Again)” does bring in a haunting passage that feels more liquid the blunt and heavy thanks to lighter guitars with a different distortion, and it carries on until the end. However, it does enter a bit too late and by the end it all just feels a little too drawn out, and the music to the track isn’t quite as impressive either and feels a little more like filler in the long run. This track isn’t even all that catchy to where it makes banging your head along to it as mandatory as it is for some of the other tracks.

“Bugging for Mercy” is easily one of the most dominant tracks. The odd thing about it though is that the song never really seems to go anywhere, remaining pretty stationary in one spot, but it has enough solid music to it that it grabs you by the throat with it’s intensity and leaves you wanting to start a mosh wherever you’re standing. “Maculate Conception” is about the same in that aspect, though it’s just a highly impressive track with plenty of brutality to the music. The general vibe of the song is more like what you’d expect to hear on an overly technical Brutal Death Metal release by a band like Origin, but toned down to a more traditional heavily Death Metal inspired Deathcore song at times with some groovier passages and a breakdown, leaving this one of the most varied tracks on the album with plenty of moments where you’ll catch yourself headbanging, and at times even stop yourself to allow the brutality to assault you. “Magic Malignancy” is another noteworthy track as it kicks right in with a slight hint of melody due to it’s speed and the louder guitars used in chorus, especially right at the start where the chorus music rings in the track. The main verses to the song, however, are much less intense and are done in a slower, more commanding approach with a heavier melodic presence to it with another breakdown that, while build up well, doesn’t quite work out with the song and is a little disheartening to have. But, the track itself isn’t too bad outside of that, and becomes one of the more memorable cuts off the recording.

Overall, Carnival Cadavre is a pretty strong album from Hackneyed, and in many ways does put the group in a better spotlight then their previous efforts. The music on here is often much stronger, but again you can’t help but not like some of the tracks on here due to feeling like filler, or just not really offering much of a unique sound to compared to other tracks on here. As stated, “Damn (You’re Dead Again)” seems to drag on, and “Circus Coccus Spirilly” isn’t the strongest of tracks either, feeling a little recycled from other songs on here that make less of an impact and end up feeling a bit like filler. Even “Feed the Lions” comes off a little lacking, but it’s not due to feeling recycled in any way, but just that the song isn’t all that interesting and feels like it was meant to be something intense, but has that vibe where the band just couldn’t figure out what to do with it and left it a little weaker then it could have been. “Cure the Obscure” isn’t really a filler track and has a great outro that breaks the contemporary mold, but it just feels like it takes a bit too long to get to and, while a decent track, isn’t the most inspiring of the lot.

Carnival Cadavre offers up a good amount of brutal and groovey Death Metal that feels solid from start to finish. There just happens to be a few tracks that seem to drag on or come off more as filler then anything else. If you’ve enjoyed the band’s previous efforts, then Carnival Cadavre by Hackneyed will definitely peak your interest. Even if you’re just a general fan of Death Metal, there’s enough material on here to warrant purchasing the album when you get a chance. The band blends in some more modern ideas from the Deathcore side of things, but still retains that early groove Death Metal sound. No matter how you look at this album, Hackneyed leave a strong lasting impression with Carnival Cadavre that will leave you wanting to come back for more.

01. Raze the Curtain – 1:58
02. Bugging for Mercy – 3:00
03. Infinite Family – 3:05
04. Damn (You’re Dead Again) – 4:40
05. Maculate Conception – 3:50
06. Coulrophobia – 4:04
07. Circus Coccus Spirilly – 3:43
08. Magic Malignancy – 3:46
09. Feed the Lions – 3:52
10. Cure the Obscure – 4:53
11. Holy Slapstick – 4:47
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Hackneyed
Hackneyed

Digital review copy of this release provided by Lifeforce Records.