posted on 6/2009 By:
Carmina was formed by a bunch of punks (literally) who decided that, in addition to their more established hardcore acts (Thrill Of Confusion, Ananda, Undone), they wished to branch into death metal, and so that they did. Ransacking their record collection of second-wave death, they bring us this self-titled effort, their fourth release (counting a demo and two splits).
Carmina sounds like Incantation or Nile or Hate Eternal, but they lack the former's heavier-than-hell glory, the middle’s Middle Eastern flair/schtick, and the latter’s crushing production. (They do have some cool atonal chording a la Immolation in songs like "Je Suis De Ja Mort" and the end of "Legion.") So this is death metal, straight down the middle, in the more modern vein than the earlier, thrashier Floridian type, and while it's constructed without noticeable flaw, it's also brutality-by-numbers and recorded with a dampened production. The former of those two elicits no complaints from me, mind you, but as I own some seriously massive records by the influences I listed above (as well as those by a half-dozen other bands in this mold), it’s a bit difficult for me to be wickedly enthusiastic about this no-frills no-surprises disc. It is what it is. The riffing is what’s expected of the style—the drums are tight, with some serious blastbeating. All of the musicianship is above-average, proving that these punks can play, were there ever any doubt. The vocals never stray from a deep, dry-throated raspy growl.
The second of the two strikes-against I mentioned in mid-paragraph above is the more disappointing of the pair. The mix on Carmina could certainly be better—the overall sound is sort of soft and murky; the vocals are mixed a hair too low; the guitar tone isn’t always thick enough. On the songwriting front, the songs are well-crafted slices of American-styled death, which is why the fuzzy production is such a bummer. All that put together, overall, Carmina feels a bit like exactly what it is—a tribute-styled side independent project, some musicians gathering together to make a record that celebrates a common influence. There’s certainly no shame in that, and the production isn't bad enough to derail it—just enough to devalue it a bit. Fans who share the common influences that Carmina is celebrating will enjoy this, but one certainly shouldn’t expect anything outside the box.
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