Unique Leader
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Carcinogenesis
02. Rats with Wings
03. Layers of Skin
04. Resolver
05. Omnipotence
06. Sungazer
07. Lex Talionis
08. Demon Queen
09. On Earth as it is in Hell

Like a lot of bands, VISCERA had their plans roundly screwed when the pandemic took hold. The UK crew's debut album "Obsidian" was a thrilling bolt from the tech-deathcore blue and deserved to propel them to the forefront of an increasingly potent scene. The unwanted lull that ensued for the next two years did no one any favors, and new bands with ambition suffered more than most. Fortunately, VISCERA have a musical formula that is so robust and foolproof that it still stands out in 2023. As with its predecessor, "Carcinogenesis" blends technical death metal and crushing deathcore with an almost PANTERA-like sense of groove and scabrous but irresistible hooks, putting most modern metalcore bands to shame.

The opening title track makes VISCERA's case for them. Six minutes of epic, grandiose deathcore, with a killer chorus and some of the filthiest breakdowns currently available to human ears, it's a meticulous encapsulation of modern, post-deathcore tropes, with every element executed in service of the song itself. Vocalist Jamie Graham is a certified powerhouse: his versatility is the last piece of the puzzle, and gives these songs an authority and a razor-sharp, accessible edge.

"Rats with Wings" and "Layers of Skin" are both great examples of how VISCERA write ultra-modern metal anthems that simply happen to use blistering tempos and machine-gun kicks as one element in their attack. "Rats with Wings" packs a ridiculous amount of action into its brutal three-and-a-half minutes; "Layers of Skin" is as stirring as any KILLSWITCH ENGAGE banger, but has the intricacy and whiplash-inducing punch of DECAPITATED. Similarly, both "Resolver" and "Omnipotence" go for the throat, with super-precise changes of pace and power balanced about by the sheer, head-nodding grooviness of it all.

Elsewhere, "Sungazer" is the gleaming gem at the heart of this record. Constructed from impossibly grand tech-death components and laced with electronic spirals and stuttering, groove metal transitions, it all builds towards a breathtaking, majestic, emotionally supercharged chorus. "Lex Talionis" is equally riveting, as VISCERA take a detour through symphonic black metal realms, assimilating the change of tone into their essence with ease. The absurdly heavy and oppressive "Demon Queen" repeats the trick, but with slower tempos upping the intensity and some dazzling, virtuoso guitar work illuminating the scenery. The grim last gasp of "On Earth as it is in Hell" again blurs the line between deathcore and DIMMU BORGIR, with yet another Herculean vocal performance from Jamie Graham and a final riff that will definitely make a few people want to swing a sledgehammer around (blindfolded).

Smarter than the deathcore average, VISCERA now have two exceptional albums under their belt. Conquering a post-plague world should be easy.

Author: Dom Lawson
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