With a new album and label in hand, German band Hackneyed return with intent and the aim of soul corruption through the new release’s dark circus. “Carnival Cadavre” is the Abtsgmünd quintet’s third album, and the first on Lifeforce Records. Due out in Europe on August 22nd, the album is a dark and twisted, intense and oppressive chunk of death metal fused with some clever little menacing hooks and discreet beckoning melodies.
Since their last album “Burn After Reaping” in 2009 the band has been performing live, writing, and rehearsing, not to mention the new addition of bassist Tini Wuttke, all leading up to this release. From the excellent artwork on “Carnival Cadavre” and the opening ‘Raze The Curtain’ the deranged maniacal dark humoured, blood soaked carnival tale openly begins to unravel. Intense and battering the album hits hard, each track ready to grab its own slice of the listeners’ soul.
Hackneyed lay down a distinct brutal death metal sound with creative insertions of inviting grooves and melodic deviations all adding to the ominous and smothering stench of a nightmarish circus pestilence. ‘Bugging For Mercy’ the first full track on the release perfectly shows what is on offer, its intense crushing riffs interspersed with appealing hooks and side show intrigue. This and the following track are the best on “Carnival Cadavre” and if one is not hooked by the end and taken a seat in the Hackneyed big top then it is unlikely that one will buy a ticket for it.
‘Infinite Mercy’ is the other of the two standout songs and continues the fusion of aggressive oppressive sounds laced with engaging melodies. Both are brought out clearly without weakening or distracting from the other by producer Corni Bartels. The track inspires imagery of a distorted and filthy mix of Texas Chainsaw and the Carnivale TV show, dark hellish corners only those involved are aware and eagerly in on, the rest victims whilst the song plays, willing though they are.
As mentioned if one has not been recruited to the circus once ‘Infinite Mercy’ has dropped its curtain then it is unlikely they will ever be. The rest of the songs on the album are strong, well written and realised and as forceful and inventive but they do on the whole lack the spark of the opening couple and take on an air of similarity across their bulk. This is not to say they are bland as there are plenty of great moments and creative ideas that set this apart from many other death metal bands, the album just shows there is still room for more distinctiveness from Hackneyed and from “Carnival Cadavre” it is obvious it is well within their grasp.
‘Coulrophobia’, ‘Magic Malignancy’, and closing track ‘Holy Slapstick’ all dance heavily and intently on the ear bringing smiles, racing pulses and head and limb flailing tendencies to the fore in the listener. The fact that these guys are still just touching 20 in age is an extremely promising indication for the future of and releases ahead from, Hackneyed. The quality and creativeness as well as performance is that of bands having more musical maturity, but as the band has been creating carnage since the age of 16, they have some years experience already and it shows.
Hackneyed may not be breaking down barriers and forging new directions for the genre yet but in “Carnival Cadavre” have shown they are not content with delivering the standard safe and formulaic death metal sound and approach either. Time will show if they can make a unique mark for themselves but the signs are looking good right now for them.