review published: 2/1/2014
Eternal is the debut album from Massachusetts quintet Carnivora. You've likely heard the expression, "jack of all trades, master of none." In the context of metal performance, not only are these guys jacks of all trades, but they actually appear to have mastered said trades as well.
Opener "Inseminate" immediately brings to mind classic Morbid Angel infused with modern death metal (a la Dying Fetus). And if you ever wanted to know what Lamb of God and The Faceless mixed together sounds like, look no further than second track, "Human Decimator," which features an impressively crafted guitar solo. The death metal is then phased out with "Eternal," where Carnivora focuses in on some groove metal stylings. Again influenced heavily by Lamb of God, the song explodes nicely at around 2:25 with double-bass galore. Continuing on with their metal clinic, the band breaks into "Thrash Of The Titans." Its title tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Nothing amazing here, but competent nonetheless.
You get the idea. Carnivora knows metal and they rarely screw it up. Unfortunately, they rarely shine, because their output is noticeably derivative. The lyrics do little to aid the effort as well, never straying from themes of pain, death, God's wrath, and war. You've heard them all before in various forms.
In case you haven't figured it out, Carnivora's biggest strength is their glaring weakness. They do everything well; but it sometimes feels as if they're floudering, unsure where to take their music. On the flip side, Carnivora's identity crisis does provide a refreshing amount of genre diversity. Eternal can't be knocked for being one-dimensional or boring. And here and there (e.g. "Into The Cage"), you get a glimpse of the band's full potential -- catchy slabs of modern metal with nicely placed leads and well-delivered vocals (I'm so glad clean singing is not part of the band's aural recipe).
Meanwhile, I have no qualms with the album production. Though Carnivora lacked a record label recording budget, this is on par with plenty of albums from signed bands. They got their money's worth.
Bottom Line: While Carnivora hasn't written an album I'll return to again and again in the coming months, these eleven tracks certainly showcase the band's ability to competently dabble in nearly all facets of the metal genre. Eternal is an entertaining, but not enduring, listen. Regardless, I'll be curious to see what they come up with on their next album.
Track Listing: 01. Inseminate
02. Human Decimator
04. Thrash Of The Titans
07. Beyond The North
10. Into The Cage