EXOTO - Carnival of Souls (THE CRYPT - LP 2016)
This record was a typical blind-buy. I was recommended to check by a friend, when we were chatting about some old, but lesser known European death metal acts and he recommended me to check them out. I knew the name , but I never had a chance to hear any music from them. So, I risked some , when The Crypt putted out "Carnival of Souls" vinyl. It's debut album, which originally was released by small label called Tessa Records back in 1994. The Crypt / Dark Symphonies took care of the vinyl and CD repress, adding 1992 "The Fifth Season" demo as a bonus. As I mentioned, for me it was , I was recommended to check this album, this is why I bought the LP – and it is quite nicely released piece on double red LP housed in gatefold cover that includes all sort of essential information about the band and this album in its liner notes.
So, everything seems great.... Let's be honest though, not always an old 90's death metal album must be freaking good. And not always a pays off. To be honest with you, I think that "Carnival of Souls" is rather mediocre record and I would live happy without knowing about its existence. Sure, it's solid, I could occasionally listen to it, but I'm far from praising it and recommending it as a “must have” type of album. And for sure it’s not “a classic”.
To my ears, it’s more like thrash than death metal music actually. And let's make something clear - I'm not a huge thrash metal enthusiast. Sure, I like some of the old bands, but I cannot call myself a thrash maniac. I am also not so much into technical death metal and bands like Atheist or Cynic. And this is exactly what "Carnival of Souls" is like. It’s technical death / thrash record ! Wow, what a hard nut to crack . I could moan that when I listen to this music it feels like there's too much thrash and not enough death metal in it, I could moan that I usually like more brutal and darker offerings to listen to. But it doesn't matter. "Carnival of Souls" is not exactly my cup of piss, but it’s fairly listenable. There are surely some good fragments like "Ashes from the Past", "Loss of Identity", "Escape the Eternal Sleep", "After Death"… It has thrash technicality and riffage with nasty and vicious screaming vocals and a bit of death metal heaviness and atmosphere thrown here and there also. It's even fairly melodic sometimes (in "Escape the Eternal Sleep" they even used "Run to the Hills" motif, probably as some sort of joke), slow and faster when it’s needed... well performed and recorded... What doesn’t click the most for me though is the album length, which is something like 50 minutes! When I listen to side A I am pretty excited, plays some sharp riffs and the songs are very good. With side B the emotions are still there, although they start to fade away a bit. But then you have also side C and the demo on side D and I am already fed up with it . There are just too many mediocre songs here, like "Dignity of Entrails", "The Visiting Room" or "Final " - songs, which you can live without. Even the demo "The Fifth Reason", which I was pretty excited to hear, didn't win my heart fully, although I like its harsher and vicious sound more than the full length's. Three demo songs were later re-recorded for the "Carnival..." album, but I have to admit that I like their earlier versions more. And even the only song, which was not included to the album, "The Fifth Season", is damn cool, so I am actually quite surprised that the band didn't want to re-record it as well.
So, not an essential album, but rather something what mostly collectors will get. Definitely not an album, which you will play every fuckin week and definitely not a classic. Just mediocre and fairly forgettable piece of thrash / death, in my opinion.
Standout tracks: "Ashes from the Past", "Loss of Identity", "Escape the Eternal Sleep"