Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Here's an interesting question: why are we as human beings fascinated with serial killers? Is it the psychological aspect? Perhaps maybe the impulsive nature of said actions? This is something that we all differ on, but it's still a fascinating subject.
That brings us to Macabre. For 35 years, the masters known as Macabre have been serving up their "murder metal" to the masses--and excelling at it, I might add. Here's another interesting aside: Macabre were one of the first death metal/extreme metal bands I was fond of. I can't recall the first time I ever listened to them, but I do recall that the first album I ever bought from them was Dahmer. I believe I was either 12 or 13 years old, so as you can imagine, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. With regards to that, it's always a momentous occasion when the masters release a new album. And here we are with Carnival of Killers, their 6th full-length. Are you ready for the circus to come to town?
In typical Macabre fashion, we start out magnificently with "Your Window is Open," a "joyful" little tune about "The Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez. I love the way the song fades in with this really jagged and angular riffing, and the stellar, as always, drum work from Dennis the Menace. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is the vocal work of Corporate Death. His range really has grown a lot since their formation. With this album you get the usual characteristics of high-pitched screams, low growls, but also really twisted clean singing, and so much more. Followup "Joe Ball Was His Name" begins the strange and weird journey, something that continues through most of the album. The chorus is fucking hilarious, and I mean that in the best of ways. It's really hokey, but full of melody. With songs like "Them Dry Bones" and "Warte Warte," you get the silly, over-the-top side of Macabre. I'm loving the acapella vocal performance of the former, while the latter has this super melodic, beer-drinking, sing-a-long riff salad. This is probably one of the most different songs on the album, as it takes on an almost melodic hardcore approach.
Another highlight on the album has to be "Richard Speck Grew Big Breasts." There's a huge punk energy on this song. Simplistic catchy riffs, darkly thunderous lyrics and chorus, and an already impressive vocal performance Corporate Death. I'm quite loving the more added inclusion of clean vocals on the album, it gives the songs more variety and a juxtaposition of the themes presented on this album, and I'm all for juxtapositions.
The next song I'll be discussing is "Now It's Time to Pay," one of the most unhinged, brutal, and spiteful songs on the album--a recounting of the crimes of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. This is probably the most grindcore-leaning song on the album. Though not featuring any blast beats, the riffs are frantic and jagged, sounding off like a nuclear siren in the ears of the unanitiated. "The Wheels on the Bug," a tune about serial killer Ted Bundy and his horrific crimes in his Volkswagon Bug, is a highlight on the last half of the album. This song is absolutely NOT death metal, so please proceed with caution. This is another unhinged banger of a song, but not without mixing in the dark humour. I love the fact that the band took the melodies of "The Wheels on the Bus" and then towards the last half of the song uses the melody of "Old McDonald." The chorus is great too. How could you not want to scream out "B.U.N.D.Y. and Bundy was his name oh!"
I think it goes without saying, but this is another great addition to Macabre's discography. I'm loving the thematics on the album, the performances are great, and songwriting is still KILLER (pun intended). My only gripe with the album is the production. The drums sound fantastic, but they sometimes bury the guitars in the mix, and I'd love to hear more of those sweet riffs. But that's such a small gripe that it shouldn't affect anyone's enjoyment of the album. For all intents and purposes, Macabre haven't lost a step. It's always a celebration whenever our murder metal heroes release a new album, and I will wait with bated breath for the next album. Let's just hope that it doesn't take another 9 years. But I have high hopes for the continued legacy of Macabre. Dennis the Menace, Corporate Death, and Nefarious: I salute you!
Macabre - Carnival of Killers was released Nov. 13th, 2020 from Nuclear Blast
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!