With a snarl to every breath and an intensive predation to every note, All Tongues Of Babel is a sonic carnivore of the most ridiculously compelling kind. The second full-length from Belgian metallers Carneia, the album is a commanding, bordering on brutal, tempest of progressive rock adventure and metal fury reaping the essences of numerous other styles and flavours to forge a sound which prowls and subjugates the senses and imagination. It is a masterful and towering confrontation from a band which you suspect now stands on the lip of truly major things.
The new album is the successor to 2008 debut White Coma Light, the Offerandum Records released album a focus of widespread acclaim from fans and media alike which though it is our introduction to the band you can only expect it to build upon and take to new heights the reception for its impressive offering. Between albums the band has equally impressed live, sharing stages with the likes of Amenra, Cloon, Maudlin, Sardonis, Bulls on Parade, and Black Heart Rebellion, before settling down to create their new formidable juggernaut of aural exploration. Now consisting of guitarists Thomas Combes and Jille Vandromme (also of No more Faith), bassist Olivier Leerg, vocalist Jan Coudron (King Hiss, ex-Fenndango), and drummer Tom Vansteenkiste (Vermilion, No More Faith), the drums for the album though provided by Terence Gevaert, the band is poised to be on the end of some extensive and deserving attention, a just reward for an outstanding album.
All Tongues of Babel opens on an instant badgering of the ear as La Mala Hora approaches the listener by heavyweights riffs, thick malevolent intensity, and a crisp rhythmic provocation which intimidates and seduces from its first breath. That lure only increases as a guitar taunts the ears with jagged cuts of sonic endeavour, its lone moment metallic bait ensuring the listener is heading into the predatory stalking of thoughts as Coudron opens up the narrative and his impressive pipes. The frontman has already shown his extensive strengths through the King Hiss EP Snakeskin earlier this year, and upon All Tongues Of Babel he only stretches his boundaries and potency to greater depths and heights. This track has a lot of common elements to the more rock based King Hiss but equally stands alone from most with its irresistible and anthemic blend of hard and grunge rock with groove and heavy metal, a progressive invention washing the slab of imagination to keep intrigue and surprises a torrential enticement. It is a stunning starter which continues to wrong foot and thrill across its eight minutes of evolving and bruising yet tender adventure.
The following Jerk is equally as contagious, another anthem bred storm of ingenuity sculpted by savage riffs and dramatic rhythms whilst again Coudron brings his grizzled and magnetic tones to bear with a squalling breath and unbridled passion, the man one of the very best vocalists in metal one would suggest right now. The track itself at times lurches between intent, sometimes lumbering with an oppressive weight and in other moments offering a more direct and antagonistic spite, but both sprung from the jaws of a predator which the song surely is.
Both The Box and The Alchemist ignite new waves of hunger for the album with their individual designs, the first a smouldering slowly dawning fire of a song, the throaty grinding prowl of the bass matched by the menacing heavy riffing which enslaves the senses for the sonic spirals of melodic imagination to sear their imprint across the sky of the song. Lifting its feet to a slightly more aggressive gait without losing the hypnotic repetitive bait of that bass persistence and similarly niggling riffing, the song winds its way deeper into thoughts and the passions with a breath-taking weave of sonic causticity and primal rock infection. Its successor is a raw bruising of a provocation, certainly vocally initially, whilst guitars and bass once more craft slavery out of incisive and underplayed riffing to which there is no escape. There is simplicity to many elements of the Carneia sound which seamlessly merges with their technical and inventive experimentation, both complimenting and driving the other side on, this track the perfect example; and especially appealing through that thoroughly irresistible bass sound.
Naked steers through stronger rock spawned waters, the emotive heart and pressure of the track not too far from the expressive passion of a Stone Temple Pilots or Gruntruck, though there is no lacking of that metallic rapaciousness either, the combination scintillating across its almost nine minutes of invention and expert temptation before making way for the brilliant Walk. An artillery of rhythms and riffs rifle through the ears and barrack the senses from start to finish here, again repetition a lethally addictive weapon in the mouthwatering premeditated and skilfully laid fury. It is hard to pick a best song on the album, all powder kegs of absorbing intrusive, but this certainly stakes a major claim but then so does the following title track and the closing Indifferent, as indeed all songs to be honest. The first of the two takes its time to ignite, the track seemingly sizing up its victim before launching an intensive yet respectful incendiary cloud of fiery rhythmic dynamics with matching riffs, both playing off each other organically as the song casts its spellbinding and intense exploration. Indifferent makes a creatively robust and emboldened finish to the release, though it is followed after a few breaths by a near on fifteen minute evolving ambient soundscape which just did not work or connect with thoughts.
Carneia is a band all should be veering rapidly over to for an investigation which will only reward, and though arguably a few of the tracks are overlong on All Tongues Of Babel, it is without doubt one of the year’s very best offerings.
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