Carnival in Coal – Vivalavida – 4.5/5
Here we have an Avant-Garde band for the longest time I have been dubious about trying. Their combination of jazzy disco-like sequences and aggressive Death Metal, with perhaps more than a hint of Grind present sounds so bizarre that I couldn’t fathom it working. But heres the kicker – it does. Wonderfully in fact. The fact that one instant you could be listening to a couple of guys harmonising in a barbershop quartet over a disco backing, only to have it abruptly change into Bert and Ernie blast beats (Link here for those who haven’t seen it) and vocals that make most death metal growls seem comparatively high pitched ends up being their major strength, and they make no hash of exploiting it.
The album opens with a soft keyboard intro giving you your first juxtaposition in sounds as blast beats and a heavy bass isn’t far away. Unfortunately, both the main styles featured are repetitive, bland and alone would make for a terrible track. This track is one of the worst offenders at overusing one particular sound without a transition, though a variety of bizarre sounds are placed into the mix to help alleviate this. The use of these bizarre sounds (which are too numerous to fully list, but include xylophones, organs, electro effects, as well as spoken sections by “mad scientists,” the sound of someone urinating, and so on) helps to break up the main body of the style they’ve created and add something unique to each track.
The drumming and bass work is largely uninteresting, but works brilliantly and differentiating the styles. Despite the huge difference between them, they manage to keep the flow by simply removing them for the softer sections. This leaves the keyboards, which were always present, to continue with the atmospheric approach, whilst simultaneously removing most of the aggressive sound prevalent before. The vocals vary from a high pitched black metal scream, a deep death grunt – sometimes literally grunts and growls as opposed to grunting lyrics – and the barbershop quartet harmonised vocals. They are all done incredibly well and serve to accent the lyrical themes of the tracks, which I consider fairly important in enjoying the album.
With track titles such as “Got Raped,” “Urine Facewash” and “She-Male Whoregasm” its clear there’s some lyrical theme, some amusing story at the core of the song. Make no mistake about it, this is not an album your parents would enjoy knowing you listen to. In “Yeah, Oystaz,” The story is a man walks in to a restaurant, orders some oysters to be told by some pathetic snivelling employee their out, which sends the customer into a demonic fit of rage, Or in “Narrow-Minded Sexist Pig,” a track about a scientist studying the effects of metal on the female form. Lyrically, its well constructed, full of amusing fictional stories that serve to add another aspect to an already enjoyable album.
This album is beyond bizarre. I still can’t understand how it works, but understand that it does. And so long as they’ve continued beyond this debut to explore amusing stories in their unconventional style, I’m sure I’d be pleased to explore what else they have to offer.
Highlights: She-Male Whoregasm, Entrez le Carnaval, Got Raped
By T. Bawden