Carthage - Sicilian Wars

Focusing on history in a brutal fashion, Greek brutal death metal duo Carthage continue on making a massacre of a soundtrack to war with their 2nd album “Sicilian Wars.” The album goes by pretty quick clocking barely 30 minutes making each track about 3 minutes or less of just onslaught after onslaught of death metal. Not much deviation from their debut, the style is like a good Cannibal Corpse album- straightforward without any surprises and just intends to downright steamroll the listener. One part older Aborted meeting Hate Eternal, the album blasts off with ‘At The Gates Of Syracuse’ which features brutal layered vocals from Thomas Blanc who replaced Philip from the previous album. His voice is a bit more on the grunting side but the higher pitched snarls are layered in well enough and the instrumentation provided by Leonidas is a notch up with the speed of the drumming and guitars. While Carthage has been known for fast to mid paced, here it seems they go all out with concrete to the face riffs and drumming when it comes to tracks like ‘Selinus’ and ‘Himilco Hanno.’ The grindcore-esque pace can be a bit unsettling, especially those who are used to any sort of death metal with lulls as like Napalm Death these guys seem to have no intension of stopping the ride at any time.

After a bit of a run through the sound can tend to get a little monotonous. While Carthage ups the ferociousness, they lose a bit of a groove and technicality compared to their debut album, so it can be hard to tells where on track starts and another ends with little to distinguish things in between. Some like ‘Abacaenum’ are a little more restrained in certain parts with their backing distortion along with the chugs, more technical drum work, and overall a bit of ‘small breathing room’ so it just doesn’t come across like ‘Two Demons’ from Hate Eternal’s “I Monarch” which in similar fashion gave very little breathing room and just hammered down with not an inch of atmosphere or melodic intent. ‘Sicilian Wars’ is the standout track for the album simply because it doesn’t try to hit with full force for once. Actually opening on a bit of a lulling guitar note before the heavier sections come in, the militant style drumming and harsh growls/ snarls seem a bit more balanced like a more modern Aborted, and at the same time doesn’t give the listener any idea that Carthage are softening up in their barrage, just taking a more subtle approach. Allowing in restrained almost doomy riffs, it showcases great song structures and less of a nonstop slam death/ grindcore approach that still keeps brutal death metal but doesn’t sound overwhelming, or also monotonous.

While monotony is a bit of a pitfall for this album, “Sicilian Wars” certainly takes things to a new level for Carthage. Whether it is the new vocalist or just the jackhammer songwriting, this album is certainly a war album that is unrelenting. A bit maybe too much for the average death metal listener who thinks that Six Feet Under is heavy, or that death metal’s epitome of war metal is in the like of Hail Of Bullets which offers a bit more of a slower, yet pummeling death metal, but those who want their death metal fast, layered, and not just blast beats all the time with one sided vocals, then it just should be right up their alley. Not for the faint or heart (or hearing) it will be a heart pounding face stomper that will make listeners feel like they’ve been through war once the 30 minutes are over.

3 / 5 STARS

1. At The Gates Of Syracuse
2. Battle Of Himera
3. Selinus
4. Himera In Ashses
5. Arkagas
6. Himilco Hanno
7. Tauronemium
8. Abacaenum
9. Skirmishing
10. Sicilian Wars