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Hackneyed - "Carnival Cadavre" (CD)

Hackneyed - "Carnival Cadavre" CD cover image

"Carnival Cadavre" track listing:

1. Raze The Curtain
2. Bugging For Mercy
3. Infinite Family
4. Damn (You're Dead Again)
5. Maculate Conception
6. Coulrophobia
7. Circus Coccus Spirilly
8. Magic Malignancy
9. Feed The Lions
10. Cure The Obscure
11. Holy Slapstick

Reviewed by on August 24, 2011

"This self-deprecating lack of pretension encourages the listener to shrug off his prejudices, crank up the volume, and enjoy 'Carnival Cadavre' for the mountain of absurd fun that it is."

Bands like Germany’s Hackneyed are rare treats in the engorged, often oversaturated world of death metal. Without any apparent effort, they manage to ingest generic influences and spew out results that, while straightforward, prove refreshingly entertaining.

“Carnival Cadavre” is album number three for these krautgrinders (and debut for their new home on LifeForce Records), and sees them honing their sound into a well-oiled, unstoppable machine. For starters, Hackneyed sure knows how to harness audio samples to open an album. The outrageous ravings of a mad carnival barker on spirited intro “Raze The Curtain” smoothly give way to a gradual instrumental buildup of cymbals and buzzsaw riffing, which explodes into a bulldozing blast of metal and a triumphant growl. This twisted overture perfectly captures the band’s atmosphere and attitude: unrelenting heaviness with a sense of humor, something between the tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness of Cannibal Corpse and the blatant self-parody of Dethklok. How else to reckon with such track titles as “Damn (You’re Dead Again)” and “Holy Slapstick?”

Following “Raze The Curtain,” the bulk of the album is anchored in the band’s secret weapon, an underutilized asset in death metal: mid-tempo groove. While various tracks explore the realms of thrash (“Feed The Lions,” “Cure The Obscure”) or the discordant percussive assault of such acts as Dying Fetus (“Maculate Conception,” “Magic Malignancy”), they’re all firmly anchored in a continual deep, crushing groove that should have you banging your head so rhythmically, so blissfully, that you won’t notice you’ve spilled your booze or your bong water. Groove! Groove! Groove! Fans of Pantera, Machine Head, and Lamb Of God (to name a few) should feel as welcome as any death nerd to the sonic slaughterhouse of Hackneyed.

Progressive? Unique? Of course not. But Hackneyed’s well-established comical streak and loose, carefree approach to death metal are not lost on the band members themselves; their collective name is a literal dictionary definition of “unoriginal.” This self-deprecating lack of pretension encourages the listener to shrug off his prejudices, crank up the volume, and enjoy “Carnival Cadavre” for the mountain of absurd fun that it is. Also, the presence of the word “hack” in the band’s name will ensure you’re in for a bloody brutal time.

Highs: The band's self-aware sense of humor renders their straightforward assault much more effective (and heavier).

Lows: Nitpickers and prog-heads won't be encouraged by the band's name, and their suspicions would be correct.

Bottom line: A hackneyed (ahem) but charming avalanche of chugging, groove-based death metal, with a humorous twist.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)