|Review: Carchosa - Realms|
Year released: 2021
Review online: January 6, 2022
Reviewed by: Luxi Lahtinen
Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (5 Votes)
Carchosa are among the litany of one-man acts out there these days, and they happen to be one that caught my ear with their debut album a few years back. It was a bit bloated and suffered from crummy drums, but sole member Henrik Nygren proved he had a great ear for pummeling, melodic Thrash, so I was looking forward to seeing what he was going to do next. That brings us to his second album, Realms, and it’s proven to be both a surprising change in direction as well as a logical and welcome step in the project’s development.
Rather than the strictly German-inspired Thrash of the debut, Realms leans a lot more on Death Metal while keeping the keen melodic work from before intact, all without fully falling into Melodeath. This might be in part due to guest musicians such as Scott Carstairs (Fallujah), Andy Gillion (ex-Mors Principium Est) and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) contributing solos across the album, but mostly it sounds like Nygren pushing to make a more individual sound than before, and I’d say he did a damn fine job of it. You get a lot of variety on display here, from the fierce technicality of "Hexes Arcane" to the emotional semi-ballad "Dawn of Storms," complete with guest vocals from Emi Pellegrino to the massive album closer "The Dark Veil," whose epic scope, blistering aggression, and sorrowful atmosphere basically define the band up to this point. The real highlight, however, is the killer "World Beyond," which deftly balances melancholy with ferocity to make what is easily one of the band’s very best songs. This is all levied by Nygren’s sure hand as a guitar player and songwriter, along with some solid growls and blackened shrieks. Even the drums are better here, sounding less like a barely programmed machine and often sounding like the real thing.
Cool as this all is, the songs are still longer than they need to be, ranging from 4 to 9 minutes in length and often getting bloated and losing momentum as they go on. Despite that, I can never say that it ever gets boring, and if they keep pushing themselves while reigning in the song lengths a bit, I see nothing but good things for them in the future. Not quite essential, but a big step up from before.
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