EP Review: Carcinoid - Encomium to Extinction
Reviewed by Sam Jones
When I saw Carcinoid would have a new release on the horizon I was awaiting it with fierce glee. Formed in 2018 out of Victoria, Australia, the band have become known for their particularly ruthless form of death/doom first showcased in their 2018 Demo, before blowing the doors clean off with their 2019 debut record Meastatic Declination that I feel has gone sorely underappreciated in today’s extreme metal circles. Now, years after the band have recorded and released Splits with Gosudar and Charnel Altar, Carcinoid have another of their own releases, an EP titled Encomium To Extinction, that I can only hope will pave a way towards another full length work. Penned for a November 16th release date and through Me Saco Un Ojo Records, this was an EP I was dearly longing to listen to.
Carcinoid haven’t quite been renowned for providing comforting and serene soundscapes and Encomium To Extinction is no different as the band rip and tear through our senses, as if solid bone and flesh were merely silk. What does separate these guys from so many cavernous acts however is that their onslaught eases off just enough for our attention to follow the train of songwriting, as opposed to being at the complete mercy of the band’s performance. While their riffs and soundscape is maddeningly heavy, I was still able to foresee potential routes their songwriting may move down; I wasn’t always correct but I was at least able to breathe and appreciate the band as opposed to simply feeling the crushing density alone. It hadn’t crossed my mind before but this EP certainly brings out the Swedish influence, whereby their riffs, and particularly their bass, has that shredding aesthetic. As a result, the band’s riff work doesn’t hit us as it does just slice right through us; in a way, it helps to alleviate the vast weight their sound brings and ensures it’s not so total upon our senses.
But when one thinks of cavernous works of extreme metal, one often perceives a complete cluster of elements thrown together for the audience to decipher. Throughout this work, Carcinoid demonstrate an acute understanding of how to mix their various instrumental and vocal aspects in such a way that they permeate the atmosphere fans have come to crave, yet is still presented in a manner that, sonically speaking, allows us to actually pick apart each segment of the band, whether that be out of personal curiosity or by the band’s own direction. This is a work of metal that’s never going to hold your hand, but it gives you enough opportunity to gaze upon its bulk and pinpoint the specific features that make up this assault. The EP is effectively running us over with a tank, only that armoured vehicle is oncoming at a slower rate enabling us to pick apart how each aspect, so designed for our death, will fulfil its mission. The guitar and bass are massive as we’ve ascertained, but it’s nice to note how prevalent the drums have been rendered herein; blast beats and more minute strikes of the kit have been given attention within the mixing process to give them the extra punch likely needed to break through the wall of sound their songwriting is composed of.
The full EP is just under a half hour long and with five tracks that insinuates the band have some lengthier pieces to share, but the band’s take on death/doom isn’t to reduce their pace to a crawl. Rather it’s the opposite; often utilising blast beats throughout their faster segments, Carcinoid have adopted the approach of speed here and there to keep the pace and adrenaline running high when things are brought down to a steadier rate. But just because the band play with speed as a norm it doesn’t mean they’ve incorporated it just as a different element to work with. Some of the juiciest and most exciting moments of this EP occur when the band play at their quickest. Some of their more ferocious vocals and gnarliest atmospherics are happening during their most aggressive periods, which of course contrasts massively from death/doom’s ethos. Yet Carcinoid, through their songwriting and approach to extreme metal, have made their style work. By the time this EP was done, I could have happily gone through another three or more tracks should it have become a full length work.
In conclusion, Carcinoid’s Encomium To Extinction is a quick yet brutal half hour ride that will easily sway you into their side, and likely have you wondering what hasn’t informed you of this band’s existence until now. I was in the same boat when the band unleashed their 2019 debut full length, Metastatic Declination, and was enthralled at how crushingly heavy the band were willing to go. This EP is a direct follow up to that record and might be a little easier on the senses. In a way, perhaps this EP is a more suitable introduction to a newcomer whereby one can then dive into that full length release. While there are just five tracks to choose from, Carcinoid still throw all their weight and might into this release to make each track memorable and punching. I’m now eagerly awaiting either the next EP, or full length album, from the band. Between Werewolves and Carcinoid, Australia is doing well in the name of extreme metal.