Rewind back to 2012, and you’ll find one of the brightest hopes in metalcore was Liverpool’s Carcer City, whose debut ‘The Road Journals’ showcased how to take juicily produced riffs and throw a million of them into your face at once. It’s an underground gem that has left a legion of fans hungry for more, and it’s this expectation that has lasted over four years that makes follow up ‘Infinite // Unknown’ the letdown that it is.
This doesn’t make the record a total dud, as there’s more scope than it’s predecessor. Opener ‘Infiltrator’ showcases this with more grandiose arrangements and anthemic melodies which transition easily into juggernaut breakdowns, since both rely on the thick guitar tone the band churn out. Beefed up riffs are unleashed through jarring beatdowns filled with ear-splitting sub-bass drops for a sharper sound on tracks like ‘Wolf Without a Pack’, and the frantic ‘Drifter’.
The issue at hand is that Carcer City are victims of their own ambition. An increased use of keyboards in production allows for dramatic soundscaping during song intros, but when hundreds of smaller electronic effects start popping up during moments of pure riffage, it begins to feel like two different instruments fighting for your attention rather than one cohesive piece. Plus with little in the way of shorter songs or interludes mixed with a tried and tested tech-metalcore formula on each song, it becomes more draining the further you go into the album.
There are plenty flashes of quality on ‘Infinite // Unknown’, but when you finally come across them, you have to ask if it was worth the wait. Carcer City have traded the in-your-face fierceness of ‘The Road Journals’ for more melody and post production, and have become indistinguishable from a multitude of tech metal bands as a result. When so many other groups have taken the sound of their 2012 album to new levels, they’ve moved backwards instead.
’Infinite // Unknown’ by Carcer City is out now on Stay Sick Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)