The Finnish quintet Carnal Demise was founded in 2007. The group released four demos (that I haven't heard) before their debut full-length, which was just recently published as a CD on Inverse Records.

This slab can't be blamed for lacking variation. Although Inverse labelled it as death'n'roll, that's just a fragment of the band's sound; there's moments of pure oldschool thrash with the steady and monotonal drum-beats, groove-bits with heavy and twisted technical riffs, and more modern spices such as the clean and lively guitar solos. The vocals range from the Strapping Young Lad/Slayer/Stam1na-style shouted rambles to usual death-growls and something in the half-way, along with a few moments of clean singing in the choruses. The choruses have a suspicious metalcore-vibe a couple of times and the oddly placed electronic intros of tracks six and eight further bring out this aspect, but in the end it's just a nuance. The synth piano-lines do work fine in the slow and atmospheric eight-minute "Sleighride" though.

When noting how the compositions rely on both heavy rhythms and cleaner melodies, I find it odd that the guitar sound is really harsh and crude a'la '80s thrash. The cleaner solos and sturdy bass-lines make the guitars seem less bare, but I'm still a bit amazed how the band chose such a sound. It sounds really neat in the thrash-parts and evens out the switches between different genre-types to seem less major, but overall it's too weak and powerless to deliver the heaviest rhythms, and makes the soundscape seem scattered due to the more modern-sounding bass-lines and leads.

If you like both modern and oldschool thrash metal and acts such as Pantera, chances are you could find a good friend in Carnal Demise. As for my personal tastes, the album is just way too scattered; I can see where the band attempted with the switches between oldschool riffs and more modern and dramatic choruses, but these changes are too many and too major. The band's palette of influences and capabilities is employed to its full extent instead of choosing a general line of operation, and for me this is just too much of everything. I can understand how the band tried to marry oldschool and new school approaches, but they just don't have enough of their own style and vision to do that effectively yet.

As a final note I must add that the artwork is horrible. Dull, gray granite fills the booklet with emptiness and makes Carnal Demise's debut look like a demo. The gray tones fit the frustrated, agitated and at times desperate lyrics, but otherwise they're not worth seeing.

6 / 10