Abhorrent Obsessions

Unique Leader
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Wings Of Deliverance
02. The Devil In Me
03. King Of The Rhine
04. Kentucky Fried Strangulation
05. Tithes Of Forbearance
06. Disturbia
07. Malleus Maleficarum
08. The Paint Shop

Yet another demonstration of UNIQUE LEADER RECORDS' keen eye for superior talent, CARRION VAEL's first album for the label is impossible to dislike. As they made plain on 2020's excellent "God Killer", this Indiana quintet have a firm grip on everything it takes to rip people's faces off. With a sound that owes more than a little to THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, but with plenty of its own macabre charms, they seem to have hit upon the perfect balance between insane technicality and memorable songs. Factor in the frequent use of horror-fueled, gothic atmospherics, and CARRION VAEL become a solid one-stop shop for all manner of (un)desirable modern metal tropes.

Fortunately, they have some great songs, too. Opener "Wings Of Deliverance" is a superb introduction to the CARRION VAEL experience, with multiple detours and moments of virtuoso shred, interspersed between hooks sharp enough to skin a corpse. "King Of The Rhine" is a taut and tumultuous midnight sprint through endless darkness, with a fearsome, perma-blasting groove driving things forward, and VADER-like levels of speed and spite.

"Disturbia" is another standout: CARRION VAEL deliver the sharpest of musical motifs at blistering speed, and the blend of tech-death wizardry and ghoulish ambience is seamless and scintillating throughout. When vocalist Travis Lawson (excellent surname!) slips into a fragile, malevolent croon midway through, he triggers a final explosion of blastbeats and bilious pomp that takes the breath away. Like everything else here, it is bolstered by some darkly poetic and cheerfully disturbing lyrics, all of which serve to highlight CARRION VAEL's increasingly convincing conceptual world. Notions of blood, guts, blasphemy and existential ruin are commonplace in metal, of course, but nothing about the likes of "The Devil In Me" or "Malleus Maleficarum" has been done by numbers. As with the music underpinning those foul tales, this band have aimed high and refused to compromise. The result is a brutal and absorbing piece of work.

Author: Dom Lawson
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