Personal struggles and angsty alt-rock music are two things that have always gone well together. …
Carnifex’s seventh studio album is their mightiest offering of dark and hostile metal fury to date.
The Californian deathcore giants have pushed every limit, bent and broken the rules, to present us with World War X, a harrowing soundtrack to the degraded demise of humanity. As they prepare to unleash this thundering album, vocalist Scott Ian Lewis offers us a window into the raging inferno that is World War X.
The depth and complexity of Carnifex’s sound on Word War X is striking, but what kind of war is this? “Well you know for me,” Lewis explains, “I was trying to find a way to have a perspective or point of view on my lyrics that had more scale and scope than the previous albums. When I hear the music the guys were writing I knew they were being more ambitious, musically, so I had to rise to the occasion, lyrically. So I really used the theme of war and being on a battlefield and confronting emotion and internalised pain, more head on like a solider, rather than pushing it down, feeling less than, putting it out there and taking it head on, like in a war. So that was a framing device that I used, something that really helped me contextualise something that was really intimate, to draw it out and match it to scale of the music.”
We wanted to get to how we used to do records, which is basically capturing a live performance, so I really tried to do big segments of the song, vocally, at a time. I think having to be in the headspace to perform, you hear the difference, it sounds more aggressive on the album.
[ Scott Ian Lewis ]
Lewis’ vocal performance on the album is powerful and angry. On whether he approached the vocals differently this time, Lewis confirms, “Yeah we did actually! The recording process was different this time. I think that’s why the vocal work was more aggressive or raw this time round. What we did with our approach was to do as big a take as possible. We wanted to get to how we used to do records, which is basically capturing a live performance, so I really tried to do big segments of the song, vocally, at a time. I think having to be in the headspace to perform, you hear the difference, it sounds more aggressive on the album.”
This vocal aggression is interwoven with darkness in the music, which more pronounced than usual for Carnifex, as Lewis recounts, “We kind of arrived there … it was about us really trying to explore the musical themes, so we kind of had things great back and forth where the guys knew early on what my lyrical themes would be and they leaned into that with their writing, so they’re writing music that I think is totally giving you that sense of being in a war, of being in a dystopian landscape. So the sound of black metal, that real visceral sound, a lot of that is present. So we arrived exactly with these sounds that we’ve explored on previous albums but we kind of got there in a bit of a different way.”
Overall tone of World War X is quite dark and unnerving amidst crushing Carnifex musical violence. This Infernal Darkness, for example, is one track that really deepens the plot with a musical blend of deathcore with melodeath and a decidedly dissonant stain, along with a piano piece. Lewis reflects on the genesis of this track, “That song for us was one of the ones that indicated to me early on in the writing process that this was going to be an ambitious album. It really stood out to me as ‘wow the guys are really going for it’. So that song was really a kind of jumping off point for what the rest of the album was going to turn into being. I really like that song too because it is decidedly Carnifex, but we do a lot of things that we haven’t done before. You can be ambitious but if you don’t’ hit it in the execution, it kind of doesn’t really matter. So I think that for us getting that song right and not be afraid to put it really close to the album and say look, here’s a really different song, a kind of experimental song for the band in a way, although it didn’t feel like an experiment, more like where we’re headed, because on the next record it’s going to be more towards stuff like that. So that song definitely has special meaning to me, because in the writing process it was a turning point in the writing where we were yeah, let’s really go for it, let’s write longer songs, let’s bring in piano, who’s saying no? Let’s do it.”
Carnifex worked with some guest artists on the tracks All Roads Lead To Hell, which features the insane guitars of Angel Vivaldi, and the single No Light Shall Save Us with guest vocalist Alyssa White-Gluz. On how working with these musicians impacted the tracks’ sounds, Lewis is adamant, “I think the work speaks for itself. With Alyssa and with Angel”, he elaborates, “we get this great thing going where we were able to work with two artists who are similar to what we do, but also very unique. So when you put it together, I think we got something that was unique to both of us that we wouldn’t have gotten without that collaboration, and that’s cool for us, to make something that more than the sum of it’s parts.”