Uncompromising and ravenous, the new mini-album from Italian death metallers Karnak is a furious consumption of the senses but equally a deceptively rewarding one which with bravery and strong will before its ferocity provides a compelling and invigorating examination of senses and thoughts. Made up by five predatory tracks, The Cult Of Death is an annihilatory turbulence through the ear which consists of four new songs linked to a concept inspired by Aleister Crowley, as well as a cover of a Celtic Frost track. With savage essences which put you in mind of the likes of Incantation, Pestilence, Nile, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation, the release is a potent and dramatic gnawing of the synapses marking the Monfalcone hailing quartet as a persistently formidable proposition.
Formed in 1993 by drummer Stefano Rumich, the band released numerous demos before making a strong impression away from their local area with debut album Perverted, the first release under the name Karnak. This was successfully followed by Melodies Of Sperm Composed, an album which saw the band evolve from their initial pure grind/death metal stance exploring elements of jazz, samples and more to add flavour and colour to the still destructive tempest of sound. Third album Tutti I Colori Del Buio was released in 2002 before the band went on a break provoked by line-up changes. 2009 saw their return and the signing with Casket Records with the release of fourth album Dismemberment coming the following year. A tour supporting Krisiun and Kataklysm pushed the band out further in 2011, though by now having supported the likes of Impaled Nazarene, Suffocation, Nile, Decapitated, Avulsed, Necrodeath, Pyogenesis, Destruction, Fleshgod Apocalypse and more over the years, Karnak was no longer a hidden secret. Last year the band supported Malevolent Creation, Krisiun, and Vital Remains on another European tour followed by another with Deicide. Currently working on their next album, the line-up of vocalist/guitarist Francesco Ponga, bassist/vocalist Lorenzo Orsini, guitarist/vocalist Marco Polo, and Stefano Rumich raise real anticipation and hunger for said release with The Cult Of Death, its bestial creative assault wholly persuasive.
The opening Intro just lays out a simple rhythmic beckoning but its temptation is irresistible and almost tribal as it evolves into The Construction Of The Pyramid (The Demon’s Breath) who replays its offering before opening the gate to an intensive exhausting technically honed riff driven blaze which scorches the senses with the brewing animosity of the song and its breath is not far behind in carnivorous intent. With vocals roaring like the oldest colossal predator imaginable, the track lurches at the senses with insatiable energy aligned to a more restrained but unreserved sonic and rhythmic stalking. Furies of technical and acidically melodic guitar do initially wrong foot emotions after their submission to the easy to devour onslaught, but soon persuade craft and evocative hues.
It is an impressive start repeated and then surpassed by The Construction Of The Pyramid Beta (Invocation), the Meshuggah like web laid down around the passions at the start over run by the torrential thick sonic mass of intensity and suffocating ambience. Doom oppressive and sludge lumbering, the shift bleeds the air of light and oxygen but equally ignites thoughts with shards of melodic light and colour before the nightmarish soundscape with its heaviness and rabid vocals seems to claw like a swarm of patient demons at the psyche. As with the release it is not at times the easiest or most comfortable listen on first impressions but beneath the barbarous surface and many deeper levels there is a magnetic and superbly crafted well of invention and skilled temptation.
The nagging chugging which leads the song to a dissipating climax is immediately thrown aside by the sadistic entrance of The Construction Of The Pyramid Gamma, a start which is only built upon and intensified the further the track chews at the ear with the drum attack of Rumich unrelentingly and impossibly thrilling. Also unafraid to bring a potent melodic and sonic adventure to the striking narrative of the release, the track is a frequently changing and provoking treat concluding and summing up the new songs and strength of the album perfectly.
Completed by the cover of Celtic Frost song Jewel Throne, the release is an enthralling malevolent engagement. The final track is more than decent but as accomplished as it is it is not a match for the previous trio of songs. Quite simply The Cult Of Death really gets the appetite aflame for Karnak’s forthcoming album whilst making a thoroughly satisfying meal right now.
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