SOULCARRION – Infernal Agony (2022)REVIEW

The fact that I knew zilch about Polish death metal trio Soulcarrion heading into this debut full-length release and know just as much today will have to be testament to the simplicity of their approach. The most important note taken on my part ended up being that they’ve intended an ‘old school’ approach to the sub-genre which I’d suggest places their sound nearby the brutal spectrum of mid-90’s underground death metal. The glue and most likely brains of the operation seems to be a fellow named Michał whom performs the rhythm guitar and bass duties while likewise programming the drums, he is joined by a lead guitarist and a session vocalist but the heart of the event is essentially the rhythm guitar work which drives each piece. Though this might seem like the driest sort of fanfare for a death metal album on my part, the experience is absolutely -that- straight forward and modest in presentation. If you show up for this album it’ll be for the plain and pure death metal appeal of the riffs and the no-nonsense aggression ‘Infernal Agony‘ leads with.

In approach of an decidedly organic artform the use of programmed drums doesn’t do much for the ‘old school’ death metal influenced intent applied to Soulcarrion‘s sound, rendering it somewhat hollow and cold. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though, as the clinical swipe and jog of these machinations might speak more directly to fans of the more independent death metal spheres of the early 2000’s wherein stock ProTools settings and clicked-out blasts were part of the do-it-yourself appeal. Nonetheless their implementation will sound a bit demo quality to the discerning ear as the use of cymbals is often glaringly missing from certain sections and tempo generally jogs along at similar pace throughout the ~half hour release. However this drum sound/tempo map lands with you it doesn’t distract too severely from my own enjoyment of Soulcarrion‘s take on death metal, wherein the spectacle of the full listen largely centers around various modes of reveal within their riff-built compositions. The intent of the artist is apparent enough even if the action is occasionally off.

The style touted on ‘Infernal Agony‘ suggests a mixture of both circa ’92-’95 Florida death metal and the general European expansion of those influences throughout the early 2000’s, albeit without quite reaching the profundity of groups like Vomitory. The album’s best moments land with some considerable distance from the thrash influenced spectrum which a suggestion of Florida death metal style might intimate and closer to the brutality of groups like Sinister; The first references that came to mind had me recalling a certain shade of death metal nearby Houwitser‘s ‘Embrace Damnation‘ or even Dies Irae‘s ‘The Sin War‘ but in the case of Soulcarrion this comes with less finesse in terms of rhythms and without any particularly strong phrasing applied to the guitar work beyond an well-mined root kit of brutal grooves. The major focus of the rhythm guitar arrangements is arguably the development of mid-paced groove balanced by tremolo-fed transitions which are occasionally enhanced by a number of scrawling and dive-bombed leads placed to great effect within a handful of pieces, the first notable integration being “Realm of Pain”. The major ideas are in place and largely effective in generating imposing death metal presence even if the album does admittedly feel a bit green around the gills when it comes time to objectively dissect the flow and variety of the compositions themselves.

Soulcarrion‘s debut full-length reads as a decent first swing at a project still finding their signature rhythms, reaching a certain acceptable rhythmic aptitude but being helped quite a bit by the distraction of a few compelling leads and a generally consistent vocal performance. Very little accoutrement serves to break the greater tunnel vision presented by the variations on a theme that drive ‘Infernal Agony‘ and that’ll make the listening experience one exclusively for the underground death metal die-hard seeking fresh potential rather than the entrenched elitist fare, the legacy artist obsessive, or the popular heavy music tourist. I like where this project is headed in terms of brutality and a strong focus on riffcraft and I’ve some appreciation for their art direction but this debut feels more like a prototype unveiling rather than a major contender just yet. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (70/100)

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Infernal Agony
LABEL(S):Godz Ov War Productions
RELEASE DATE:February 11th, 2022

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