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Carcariass - Planet Chaos Award winner

Planet Chaos
by Eric Poulin at 21 January 2020, 4:14 AM

CARCARIASS is a progressive melodic death metal band based out of Besançon, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in France. The band has been around since 1991and has released 5 full-length albums, including the latest one entitled “Planet Chaos” through the Great Dane Records label, and released back on December 6th 2019.  The album comprises 13 tracks with over 68 minutes of music.

I have been following this project for quite a few years and discovered their music back in 2002 with the “Killing Process” record and their sound completely blew away, not only was it melodic, but it carried a slew of progressive influences, while remaining very much of death metal band. The band had not released any new material since 2009’s “Ex-tinction” album, so to say it has been a long wait for the band’s fans would be an understatement.

We fast-forward 10 years to this album. The album itself has a lot of instrumental music, that add a great deal of depth to the album. Almost half of the songs to be more precise have no vocals, tracks such as “Apophis Impact”, “High Speed Fury”, “Saturn Vision”, “Dark Empire”, “Dawn of the Dead” and the title track: ”Planet Chaos”. I won’t really go into detail for each of these songs but will say they are all quite technical masterpieces and are a perfect bridge between the songs in making the album sound like 1 song, divided into pieces.

The opener “Solar Invasion” starts off with some interesting synth effects and atmosphere, very fitting with the song’s title, to give us the impression we are in space. It is followed by some well-orchestrated guitar melodies with a progressive flavor, slowly building the song into some double-bass and aggressive vocals. The easiest comparison I could make is GOD DETHRONED, not so much in the musical delivery, but more the vocal style. One thing that makes this composition unique is that the progressive parts are not too technical, in fact that they are subtle and still add a layer of complexity to the song. The apocalyptic tone that the song has at times really hit a chord for me. Some of the arrangements I find are similar to RON JARZOMBEK, especially in the guitar solos.

“Ultimate Escape” uses a great dose of acoustic guitars and keyboard effects that transcend into FATES WARNING style riffs, combined with constant solos in the background. In some ways the song reminds me a bit of PESTILENCE when they made their big return a few years ago. Another resemblance for me here is MISANTHROPE, even though the case could be made that these compositions are more aggressive than the latter. The song really combines thrashy portions with the “proggy” side of things while not dwelling too much on one aspect or the other.

“Star Implosion” is exactly just that, a very dreamy mood to the song in the first minute, that is similar to what we are used to in AYREON. Again, we have a strong use of mid-tempo riffing and progressive overtones. The biggest change in this song is the use of clean vocals. I have soft spot for the space-like arrangements and this song really gets the point across quickly and swiftly.

“Genetic Conformity” follows a similar pattern in the intro, continuing with the voyage in space theme. The guitars however had different effects here than other the songs, making the sound quite heavier. Combine the heaviness with the “dryer” approach and you have one of my favorite tracks on the album. The rough vocals in the chorus (not death metal but clean growls actually) are also add a nice touch.

“Battleground” has a bit of a power metal vibe to it, its is somewhere between STRATOVARIUS instrumentals and INTO ETERNITY. The song has a much faster pace and in the complexity of the solos heard in the background, there are some great headbanging rhythm guitar parts. My second favorite track on the album. The mix of power, progressive and death metal is done to perfection.

Another standout is “Letter from the Trenches” that used quite a bit of double-tapping techniques in the intro and chooses to emphasize the clean vocals early on and transition to the customary death metal growls that are very deep, but also easy to decipher. In some portions, the song brought me back to the golden era of Swedish melodic death metal heard on the IN FLAMES albums of the 1990's.

 This album really has a bit of everything I enjoy in a death metal band, from the more progressive elements to keyboard effects, solid vocals, a perfect mix of clean vocals with growls and a structure that is easy to follow. The production is also top notch all the way through and even if the album is over 68 minutes, it flows very well and transitions perfectly from song to song. If you like your death metal fresh, unique and well-executed, give this album a spin.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1.   Solar Invasion
2.   Ultimate Escape
3.   Apophis Impact
4.   Star Implosion
5.   High Speed Fury
6.   Genetic Conformity
7.   Saturn Vision
8.   Battleground
9.   Dark Empire
10. Letter from the Trenches
11. Dawn of the Dead
12. Psychotic Starship
13. Planet Chaos
Raphaël Couturier - Bass
Bertrand Simonin - Drums
Pascal Lanquetin - Guitars, Keyboards
Jérôme Thomas - Vocals
Record Label: Great Dane Records


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