Carcariass – Killing Process (2002)
Not to be confused with Carcass, even during that band’s pivot towards melodeath. For a band named after a shark, Carcariass seems to prefer writing about disasters – plane crashes, earthquakes to writing about marine biology. Killing Process would be rather sedate (if not lacking in technicality) by the standards of a pure death metal album; based on the melodic sense and preference for middling speeds, the band probably shares more DNA with a band like Obliveon. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also some influence from older shred rock like Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. Either way, the musical elements here lay between styles.
Despite having only a single guitarist at this point, Carcariass relies heavily on guitar solos to drive much of their content; obviously there was some studio multitracking happening. These are composed primarily of lengthy, fast runs up and down the fretboard. They’re also notably heavily processed; run through all sorts of filters that help separate them from the rhythm guitar at the expense of making them aesthetically odd. The overall sound is clean and not particularly reverb laden, but the bass usually ends up drowned out unless it’s performing a solo. Everything about the production and mixing seems to add up to a production team more interested in traditional/speed metal, but the staff on this album has enough background in extreme metal that it’s more likely the band wanted this.
Compared to the production, the compositions on display here lean closer to what you’d find on a typical extreme metal album. In some ways, Carcariass acts as a French retort to the ‘Gothenburg’ scene… which admittedly was not all that unified in sound or approach. Killing Process often feels more contemplative than the aforementioned scene between its intricate instrumental parts, middling tempo, and (most importantly) approach to song structure. While mostly concise, the average song here contains an extended bridge that gives the musicians time to solo, and a few instrumentals are included to provide more room for this. There’s not a lot of dynamic range, but there is some contrast of rhythmic texture and space in the arrangements to keep things from getting too monotonous.
I suppose the incorporation of older elements into what might’ve otherwise been a death metal album is one of Carcariass’s strengths, which is something you can’t necessarily say about the average band. Then again, metal (like any other genre) builds off the achievements of the past, so metal albums that really push into territory not explored by preceding rock and metal bands are generally quite rare. Perhaps the greatest criticism I could levy against Killing Process is that the vocals often feel peripheral to the band’s main goal, between the frequent instrumentals and fairly generic approach. More instrumentals could’ve helped the band extend their technical prowess further. Alternative styles of vocals could help, too – besides the obvious recommendation of more dynamic vocals, they could’ve went for the Desultor approach and used clean vocals to add more layers to their music. The product we got out of this will still appeal to a wide swath of metalheads, but the style here seems to favor breadth of fanbase over depth of fervor.
Highlights: “Tragical End”, “Mortal Climb”, “Winds of Death”