Long Island’s Carcosa have hammered out their own path since they first started. Sonically, they’re not necessarily a hardcore band. Culturally, they most certainly are. And those divergent traits are what give Carcosa dimension. The band simply is.
They’re heavy as all get out. They’re lyrically thoughtful. Their live show is brooding, angry, and energetic, which is a wonderful parallel to their recordings. And now they’re back with a brand-new digital EP, Wrath of the Tyrant.
Vocalist Tim Lipman offers, “I think this is part of the natural evolution of Carcosa. We do not subscribe to a particular sound or genre. We take our favorite parts of whatever is influencing us and try to evenly project it.
"We sort of approach the writing process with a, ‘how can we improve from last time’ type of mentality, I suppose this explains why every recording contains different qualities. Our recordings are very beholden to a time and place when the songs were written. We wear our influences on our sleeves but do our best to use them in a way that feels unique.”
That evolution comes through strongly on the new EP. For those familiar with the band, Carcosa still bring that distortive and ominous tone to Wrath of the Tyrant. But there is also a growth there. The EP’s opening song, “Avarice,” opens with subtle but very well-placed synths that complement the otherwise dissonant opening riff. Those synths remain in the background of the song and add a layer of both complexity and menace that better captures the mood of the song.
Lipman’s lyrical critique of religious dogma fits perfectly with music, and his more clearly annunciated vocals on this recording only serve to increase the song’s power. The song pounds out complex guitar riffage that is at once grooving, manic, and thunderously heavy.
One of the most interesting songs on Wrath of the Tyrant is “Contempt,” the EP’s third track. The song is fast and heavy in a more traditionally metallic hardcore sense. But the gang vocals in the chorus and the grooving breakdown bring to mind a more Eyehategod vibe as well. The bass also shines here as the listener really gets a good sense for Andrew’s faintly distorted bass tone and the pounding basslines themselves.
Lyrically, “Contempt” offers a scathing critique of very modern socio-political events. “’Contempt’ was written as I watched the Capitol riots in DC. From that statement, one would conclude that this song is about the Trump administration. It's not completely. It's really about my general feeling that this whole thing, from every angle, is a sham. It doesn't matter who the President is.
"I believe that my mind is not real estate for someone's political agenda. I will stand defiant in the face of manipulative lies and evil agendas and I will find my own path rather than joining the flock,” say Lipman.
That sort of reactive anger is felt throughout the song. The chorus especially, with the speedy metal tone of the guitars coupled with the staccato lyrical delivery, puts this anger on full display.
The EP’s two other tracks, “Thrall” and “Grief,” are powerful and compelling songs as well. Each offers an intensity that is both original and emblematic of the band’s sound, with “Grief” even covering deeply personal struggles. Such candor juxtaposed with the band’s otherwise intense sonic aggression is simply further testament to Carcosa’s dynamism.
But what Carcosa has done collectively on this release is show that their power and intensity is not a one-trick pony. They are dynamic, and they know how to keep what is great about their band in tact while also moving the band into more sonically interesting territory. It’s never easy to create such a balance, and perhaps it’s even less so when dealing in the sound that Carcosa does.
And yet, they’ve done just that. Wrath of the Tyrant is a commanding, aggressive, and musically impressive release. Turn them headphones up, turn this EP on, and smoke riffs.
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