CARNAL FORGE
"Aren't You Dead Yet?"

(Century Media)

01. Decades Of Despair
02. My Suicide
03. Burn Them Alive
04. Waiting For Sundown
05. Exploding Veins
06. Sacred Flame
07. Inhuman
08. The Final Hour
09. Totally Worthless
10. The Strength Of Misery

RATING: 7/10

Aren't you dead yet? Surely the exact question that the more cynical of scene observers might put to CARNAL FORGE, given the fact that they've made five albums and have yet to leave too many scars of recognition on the public conscience.

This isn't for wont of trying, though, and when you strip away the reality that they're jostling for position in a heaving throng of similar bands reaching out for a hand up the ladder, there is still an exceptional outfit underneath.

CARNAL FORGE's overriding problem on "Aren't you Dead Yet?" is that they've essentially made almost the same album as the last one. And the one before that. Major progression isn't always the answer, but it is about time that CARNAL FORGE looked to shifting their sound slightly when the likes of "Sacred Flames", in as much as it breezes by with effortless confidence, hasn't got that extra dash of uniqueness to make it leap out of your speakers and raise merry hell. In the case of "Final Hour Of Hell", the prevailing memory you take away is the guitar lick in there that sounds a bit like the twiddly part in CANNIBAL CORPSE's "Hammer Smashed Face". The rest of the track you'd have trouble distinguishing from their back catalogue even after a few listens, even though the core idea of the riffing isn't a hopeless disaster by any means.

To make a comparison, "Aren't You Dead Yet?" actually sounds like one long SLAYER-styled drag race: hit the gas, point in the right direction and hammer like fuck to the finish line (in this case at a few seconds shy of 39 minutes). And the argument is that once you've seen one of those, you've seen them all.

But still, despite the rampant self-plagiarizing (and the obvious affinity with SLAYER's "Reign In Blood"), there is something eminently appealing about the way CARNAL FORGE go about things. It's in the urgency of opener "Decade Of Despair" it's in the harmonic delights that shoot from the picking fingers of guitarist brothers Jari and Petri Kuuisto when they really get down to it on "Burn Them Alive" it's in the lethal sharpness of their finest moments when the combination of supreme tightness and exemplary production fuse together to convince you that this is one bunch of Swedes worth persevering with until they begin to utilize those other strings on their bow.

Nope, they're not dead yet — only doing what comes natural until they themselves exact the real killer sonic blow of originality.

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