March 20, 2008

CD Review: Salt the Wound - Carnal Repercussions

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Salt the Wound has existed in one form or another since 2001. During the intervening years, they have gone through a number of line-up changes before finally settling down with their core five. Over that time, the band has released a demo and an EP. Recently they signed a deal with Rotten Records and have released their first full length album. While the album is actually quite good, it should be noted that two of the artists who perform on Carnal Repercussions are no longer affiliated with band. First is vocalist Kevin Schaefer, who left due to a supreme distaste for touring, he has since been replaced by Matt Tanner (demo up with him at their MySpace page). The other is drummer Brandon Tabor, who's been replaced by Rob Walters. The core trio remains, and the plans are to soldier on in support of this debut release.

The album arrived in a plain white envelope, containing all of the information required to make a proper looking CD, should I so choose. The artwork is pretty hardcore, featuring a rather twisted image that is sure to inspire expectations, positive or negative, for what lies beyond. Believe me, it is a very accurate depiction of what this album is all about. It dispenses with any pretense of catering to the masses in favor of getting right to the point. In doing so, Salt the Wound has crafted an intense dose of brutal deathcore with touches of hardcore and straight up death.

Salt the Wound hit the ground running, don't look back and don't seem to be all that concerned with the carnage they leave in their wake. If you happen to get in their way, don't blame me for the repercussions. This is a band that is firing on all cylinders as they charge forward, creating their own definition for the style. There is absolutely no denying the ability that this quintet brings to the table, only sadness, knowing that this will be Kevin Schaefer's only recording with the band.

Carnal Repercussions opens with the appropriately titled "Intro." It runs just over one and a half minutes and slowly eases you in with some random noises and distortion before the guitars come in and kick off a heavy, head pummeling riff prior to kicking into the gear. The opening gives you a taste of the heavy riffing and hardcore-style breakdowns that are to come in the songs beyond.

The first true song is "Better Than This." The track hits full blast, it takes no prisoners, and is quite pummeling in its execution. It is far from the best they have to offer, but far be it from me to say they don't put their energy on display. Energy, aggression, and brutality are the name of the game with Salt the Wound.

You could pretty much pick any song off of Carnal Repercussions and find something to like. It is very easy to get sucked into their heaviness and feed off the brutality being delivered. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in a roiling Salt the Wound pit when they are having an "on" night. It must be one absolutely insane occurrence.

Among the best songs are "Gloves" with its group chant over hardcore breakdown bit, The surprisingly melodic (but still brutal) "The Conformist," and the title track, "Carnal Repercussions." Also of interest is the truly melodic closing track, appropriately titled "The End" and not containing any lyrics.

This line-up seems filled with ability and passion, it is a shame that this lineup is unlikely to reunite at any time, as the sound gels perfectly. The production quality is fantastic (props to Cole Martinez). The vocals sound as if they have gone through considerable processing, but Schaefer's voice sears through, making it just another tool rather than a cover-up. As good as the vocals sound, the centerpiece is the twin guitar work from Jake Scott and Vince Stropki. These two work together amazing well, weaving in, through, and around each while not stepping on each other. Beyond that, their sound is deliciously heavy. The rhythm section is also quite strong. Nothing is lost in the great mix, each instrument has their time to shine.

Bottomline. Like death or deathcore? This could be just what you are looking for, assuming that you want something new. This is a very impressive debut for the band. Carnal Repercussion is a breath of fresh air in the deathcore scene. Go out and get your hands on this imprssive slice of brutality.


Track list:
1. The Beginning
2. Better Than This
3. The Conformist
4. We'll Sleep Until Sunset
5. Gloves
6. Gannon
7. A Slight Burning Sensation
8. Peas And Carrots
9. I Swear The Visine Is For My Allergies
10. Carnal Repercussions
11. The End


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