Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big Dumb Skulls presents: Carcariass - Killing Process

Big Dumb Skulls is a blog with a simple but brilliant concept. Guided by the mysterious Council of the Elders of the Skull ("a nine-man cabal nestled in an underground bunker somewhere in Luxembourg"), each day the Friars Wagner and Johnsen unveils a new skull cover, takes a look at the artwork, and gives a quick review of the music.

The writing is often hilarious and the put-downs are legendary ("This fucking band. God damned DevilDriver"). The Friars share a deep love of metal, and have a keen eye for some of the dumber clichés associated with it. I'm working my way through the Skullection from SKULL1, learning about metal albums I never ever want to hear, and gaining an insight into the convoluted process a band undergoes before slapping a Big Dumb Skull on their cover. Like SKULL476 below.

Cover art by Olivier Salin

The skull:
Here is a clear case of a band having a vision for their album cover firmly in mind before they found the actual illustration. “We’ll call it Killing Process and put up some computery fonts and shit and it’ll be like Killing Technology and the Terminator all wrapped up in one, mes amis,” someone in the band probably said (in a haughty French accent, but not in French, for some reason), and everyone agreed that was an awesome idea, but then their artist friend showed up at the rehearsal space with a canvas, saying, “Here it is! Here is your cover!” and presented an admittedly badass skull. And then they were torn, because they all loved the futuristic dystopia angle, but they also thought the skull was totally manly and awesome, and heated discussions were had until the bassist suggested that they just merge the two concepts. “Like, maybe the computer robot guy shot a laser at this dude and fried off all his flesh and left a big hole in his head? We could have some numbers or something from the Terminator’s heads-up display on the side, like this is just some program he runs all the time, like his killing program,” and everyone stopped fighting and broke open a bottle of wine and rejoiced at the brilliance of this plan, which saved the skull AND the band.

The music:
This is one of the very, VERY few albums in the Skullection (particularly this deep) that this friar owns, but while I have long appreciated this standout slab of French melodic death metal, The Council prefers its Frankish metal to be the work of a lone, bearded, black metal loser in his bedroom, and as such must have overlooked this excellent release. How else can we explain its late position in the Skullection? Perhaps The Council’s thoughts on the matter were influenced by the rather low quality of Carcariass’s other releases, which are uniformly less good than this standout album. Killing Process is a mix of light melodic death metal (think Arch Enemy at the turn of the millennium), latter-day Death, and more complex fare, although it never rises to the level of, say, Theory In Practice for technical content. Compared to the particular strain of tech death that has arisen since the release of Necrophagist’s Epitaph, Killing Process might seem tame, but where it lacks in balls-to-the-wall displays of instrumental proficiency (or for that matter, labored brutality), it compensates with generally memorable riff- and song-writing. The production is tight and clean, and although I’m fairly certain the drums are programmed (this despite a credit for a human drummer), the work is sufficiently well-done that I’m not bothered in the main by the artificiality of the percussion. The entire affair is undergird with that uniquely French weirdness that animates pretty much everything on labels like Adipocere and Holy. This is a no-brainer purchase for anyone with a predilection for left-of-center death metal.
— Friar Johnsen

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Tagged with 2002, Big Dumb Skulls, Carcariass, death metal, melodic death metal
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