Carcosa, drawing their name from an allusion in True Detective, bring a heavy to the underground that is at once very familiar and unusual. While they draw their roots in the hardcore world, Carcosa doesn’t necessarily focus too succinctly on those roots in their sound. Rather, the band consistently seeks to offer a more ingenuitive version of heavy metallic music. Their self-titled EP, released on State of Mind Recordings, does well in offering the listener a sound that is at once heavy and thoughtful. And this musical ingenuity has allowed them to play with everyone from Iron Chic to Danzig to Crowbar.
There wasn’t much calculation in creating the band’s sound though. “Any vision we had for this band got tossed as soon as we started jamming. Kyle (guitar) and I started out talking about doing a grindcore band. All we really try to do is incorporate our influences but still maintain who we are as individual musicians as opposed to picking a style and conforming to it,” offers vocalist Tim Lipman. That organic approach to writing and developing Carcosa’s sound has helped them craft some truly dynamic songs.
The opening track on their EP, “Terrorizer,” opens with an eerie but subtly catchy guitar lead that brings the listener full on into an otherwise extremely heavy dissonant song. And those dynamics match with the lyrical content too. Lipman adds, “Lyrically ‘Terrorizer’ could easily be interpreted as some tough guy beatdown style lyricism but really I’m just calling out alt-right Nazi nerds.” There’s a forcefulness to the music and lyrics here that reveals Carcosa’s originality. And don’t be fooled by their aggression either. They are a contemplative band through and through.
For drummer Dan Lomeli, who also plays in Incendiary, that originality is something he wanted for Carcosa. “I had this idea where we wouldn’t take breaks in between songs live — no stops between songs, no talking to the crowd, just a continuous stream of music and sound. I made the comparison to what a nightmare is to kind of set the idea in motion: a nightmare doesn’t have a beginning or an end, it just exists while you experience it,” says Lomeli. Sure there’s a novelty to that comparison but there’s also something totally appropriate about it.
Carcosa’s live set is very much that continuous stream of music and sound. “Religion, Lies,” the EP’s third song, brings out that continuity as well. The guitars race through speedy tumbling riffs that vary from chugging heaviness to metallic leads only to slow into a pounding conclusion to the song. And all in just about two minutes.
Collective originality aside, Carcosa doesn’t worry all that much about their reception at shows. For them, the musical underground remains a diverse place. They’ve played alongside the punk rock vibes of Remnants to the thrashy metal of Iron Reagan. Vocalist Lipman says, “Honestly, the more out of place we are the better we tend to do. I came up in the late 90s hc/punk scene and it wasn’t strange to see a ska/punk band and a power violence act on the same bill. I personally love keeping it diverse and the feedback has generally been positive.” That they’re all hardcore heads playing in such an innovative band also plays to the ethos of the underground itself. It’s not necessarily about sound, but about diversity and different musical experiences.
And having a diverse palette of bands in the genre is important. It makes for better shows, and it offers us the opportunity to expand our own tastes. Consider the EP’s final song, “Pillager,” that opens with a hyper-fast blast beat only to slow into a chugging breakdown that harkens to early-'90s NYHC. The middle of the song hits with a dark mid-tempo guitar riff that segues into a mosh-ready chugging closure. And it all comes together cohesively. That cohesion probably comes from their writing style too. “We write as a unit. Everyone contributes to the process. We all work well together and our process is collaborative and constructive,” Lipman says. That’s important to a band who cultivates such a layered sound.
Carcosa, for better or worse, are far from a full-time touring unit. Dan has Incendiary and other projects. The rest of the guys have full-time jobs and personal commitments. But they have new songs in the can, and plan to continue pushing forward with their sound. “Right now we have two new songs more or less done with a third on the way. We’re going to keep writing into the fall/winter and hopefully have a new batch of songs by the end of the year/early next year. Whether that will be a full length or a 7” is yet to be determined, but we are actively writing which is always fun and exciting,” says Lomeli.
And they’ve also got a few dates set up with Funeral Leech that takes them to New Jersey and Washington D.C. Head out to one of those shows if you’re anywhere in the area. Carcosa won’t disappoint. In fact, they’re more likely to pummel you with a great live set.
Carcosa’s debut EP is available now on State of Mind Recordings.
August 17 — Montclair, NJ @ The Meatlocker w/ Funeral Leech, Night Fear, Stinger
August 18 — Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works (Slave to the Grind: A Film About Grindcore screening) w/ Brainpan, Funeral Leech, Total Fucking Destruction, Tossed Aside