Friday, November 16, 2012

Carneia - Sons Of The Sea (EP) (2012)

The end is inevitable. And whether they burned out too soon, or we arrived too late, we missed it. The now defunct Carneia, a five piece from Ottawa, put an end to their existence only a year after forming. Siting their differing goals and life plans, the band played their final show on the 20th of October. They leave behind a single EP, a five song offering that will become their legacy, their legend, their epitaph for metal fans in the years to come. But with a few close listens to the tracks on "Sons Of The Sea," you may choose not to mourn their quick departure, but celebrate the possible futures of each member. Things can only get better from here.

The acoustic guitars and thunder storms that open the title track are merely a rouse, fooling you into thinking you are on a peaceful journey out to sea. But when the first blast of distortion cuts through your ear canal, you will know it's too late to turn back. There is a heavy handed approach to the instrumental, one that is pummeling and rewarding, all at the same time. The deep, guttural vocals of Dan Rogers are grating to the ears, with each word slicing its way into your rib cage. The unfortunate breakdown not withstanding, there is some deft guitar work on display, both singularly and together. The way each pluck of the bass echos and rings on "Adgcea" is almost haunting, setting the stage for distorted, and somehow atmospheric, guitars to take things further. But a sharp left turn is what you get, taking that building instrumental and turning it into a thrashing, bruising beatdown. It is as if the track itself has an identity crisis. On one hand, you have a melodic death metal song that stands out through waves of fret work and double kicks. On the other, you have a murky hardcore chug fest, one that leaves you puzzled and searching for the rhyme and/or reason.

A change in production values seems evident in the opening riffs to "Ketos," where the guitars have tightened up, and a sliding bass line lives and dies. The problems remain a constant, with this track also suffering from schizophrenia. When vocals are added, everything takes a decidedly choppy tone, with Rogers' incoherent growls dragging down an otherwise impressive backing band. The mid point here is the perfect example, with a wealth of memorable guitars falling victim to a failing, one dimensional  vocal. It pushes the instrumental into a corner, and forces it to become shallow in the process. Not to be deterred completely, guitarists Brendan Snow and Remi Croussette continue to dole out healthy doses of solo work on "The Inhuman." The solo, and surrounding backing, at the two minute mark is a promising sign of life, flanked by a battery of drums and, perhaps, a few two many double kick patterns. But they are all left drowning in an uninspired grunt fest, which crowds the mix, and leaves the entire track feeling top heavy. Rather than cater the vocal to the music, the band does the opposite on "Depths," which results in a throwaway as the closer.

It's hard to say why bands ultimately decide to call it quits. Whether it be musical or personal differences, or simply just different life goals, all things good and bad, must come to an end. Reasons aside for Carneia, the end came one vocalist too soon. With a change at the mic, the remaining four members could have salvaged their talents and made a push for the top of the heap. Instead they join a flood of other bands as a statistic, a mere footnote on the history of metal. Where these five musicians go from here is a mystery for now. But wherever both Brendan Snow and Remi Croussette end up, there is sure to be a bright future.


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