This month, we’re doing something special for Death Metal Dossier, where Manny and Ryan attempt to shed some light on the moldy crypts of underground death metal. This month, we’re highlighting not one, but three short debut releases from three different underground bands in what we like to call Democember! Welcome to Part I of our series where we take a look at Carnal Ruin’s demo, Immortal Domain.
Ryan: Man, do I love some ignorant death metal riffs. And when I think of ignorant, I think of Manny-O-War. Pair that with a killer debut EP from Tampa, Florida’s Carnal Ruin for what can only be a blast-filled romp through some punishing low-end and grooved aggression.
Immortal Domain ramps up from a quick intro bit into a pulverizing assault of early Swedeath-inspired blasting. The production is heavy, with the guitars wallowing through a thick distorted grime. The riffs are punchy, bone-headedly battering their way along with sheer force. The soloing is an excellent display of razor-sharp slicing; squealing and sliding abound across the frets like fiery screams of terror. And then there’s the drums. The subtle groove of the running kicks brings Immortal Domain home, locking in like the tightened grip of death around the already suffocating loudness. There is just a feel to the way the drums swing that brings a bit of a latter-day Bolt Thrower vibe to the rhythm section at times. It’s hard to go wrong with Carnal Ruin’s sum of ingredients, and they blend them well for a hard-hitting debut.
Manny: While Ryan might find death metal riffs, particularly of this brand, ignorant I would argue that these riffs are the height of intelligent, well-researched and well-founded knowledge. Now, further, the insinuation that I am ignorant is, well… intelligent, well-researched and well-founded knowledge. Despite his insolence, Ryan actually found a pretty great little demo for us here.
Carnal Ruin combine elements of bay area death metal with elements of the classic Tampa sound to create a demo that is both brutal and balanced. The Bolt Thrower comparison is a good one, particularly in the guitar tone. Kept almost muffled in the mix, with a somewhat hollow sound, the guitars are a perfect complement to the throaty vocals. Beyond the comparisons Carnal Ruin manages to squeeze squeals, leads and general melody into their composition between full-throttle riffs and a very active rhythm section. For me, the highlight track is also the third, “Desperation.” The main riff is infectious, groovy and, above all, a rocking, swinging good time. Song format gives the killer riff room to breathe, repeating itself under rhythmic vocals before descending into blasty chaos. More riffs please.