Capharnaum - Fractured

posted by Greg, Friday August 6, 2004 @ 02:12:15 PM

Artist: Capharnaum (http://www.capharnaum.org)
Album: Fractured
Release Date: February 17th, 2004
Label: Willowtip



Rating: 8.5/10

Recommended Tracks: Fractured, Perpetuate Catatonia, The Scourge Trial

No it's not "review all Willowtip albums" month here at WREKage, it's just that they recently sent us a bunch of new albums by their artists, and they happen to be pretty damn good. Up this week for review is Florida's Capharnaum, a technical death-metal outfit and another fine member of the impressive Willowtip roster. While the words "Florida" and "metal" used together in the same sentence usually conjure up memories of bands like Death and Morbid Angel, a new generation of Florida metal bands such as Trivium and Capharnaum (who actually share band members) are showing that they can play with all the heaviness and melody any band on the other side of the pond has to offer, without compromising any of the grit or integrity that their Floridian forefathers injected into the metal scene decades ago.

If you've been paying attention to our show lately you've noticed I've played a lot of songs by the band Anata (and have also reviewed their newest album here). Capharnaum play a similar style of technical death metal spiced up with a few elements of thrash/black/grind here and there which all add up to one exhilarating listen. While not quite as heavy or polished as their Swedish counterparts (due to the fact they haven't been around for nearly a decade like Anata), Capharnaum have still managed to make an exciting first impression on the scene with their debut album, and hopefully like Anata can remain major players in the technical death/thrash scene for years to come.

The album starts out rather unassuming, as the thought of "been there, done that" will ring through your ears for about the first minute and a half of the song "Ingrained". In fact, I'll do you a favor and post my thought process while listening to this album: "standard metal fade in intro... check - double bass drums and riffing kick in... check - guy starts screaming - check... yawn... here we go again... wonder what time happy hour starts on a tuesday...". Now, 1:50 into the album - "oh wow that drum pattern sounded really cool, maybe they'll keep that up... nope, back to mindless double bass drumming... man do I like boobs". 2:07 into the song - "oh wow, that's some cool riffing, this could be a pretty cool album I guess... holy shit the riffs keep coming... well the first song wasn't a total waste... track two more cool riffing and semi-blastbeats... WOW". I think I stayed at that WOW for about the next 4-5 songs while this album continued to smoke my eardrums with blazing riff after blazing riff all seamlessly interwoven with some dexterous drumming and an infallible sense of melody. There are enough guitar leads and solos on this album to temporarily make you forget that it seems like they're being phased out of metal altogether, but Capharnaum treats the lost art of the solo on this album like treasure stolen from a sunken ship - you'll hear them and think wow, why aren't more metal bands still doing this? Speaking of things you'll temporarily forget, this album got me to quit thinking about breasts and beer for a good thirty minutes or so. Those are some strong words mind you, but yeah, it's that good!

The only thing wrong with this album is, like most other technical death acts, it suffers from "the songs sound the same" syndrome after a while. If you have this album try this out to see what I mean - play the first 10 seconds of tracks 2 and 7 and see if you can tell which is which. Still not convinced? Try playing the first few seconds of tracks 4, 5, and 6 and tell me they don't sound the same. Tracks 1 and 8 are spared since 1 has a fade-in intro and 8 has a slow buildup in the beginning... which are also kinda the same thing too I guess, so no, they're not spared. In fact, the first time I listened to this album I thought it was just 3 long tracks, since it's hard to tell where one song starts and another ends. This isn't necessarily a bad thing... I mean, it would be awesome to eat a steak dinner every night but after a while you'll crave for some good old greasy McDonald's 49 cent cheeseburgers, yeah? Same thing here - this is quality, well-executed technical death metal, but you'll be wishing there was some more variety after a few listens.

Those first few listens though... damn. Unlike a lot of technical death metal, Capharnaum are able to find a happy medium between showing off their considerable talent and keeping the aggression and intensity of the sound intact. You never feel like they are just playing for the sake of showing off how good they are, they seem to be playing to show off how good this kind of music can sound if you care about putting your heart and soul into every note. This is Capharnaum's debut release, and they've already set the bar high for themselves. Hopefully they can keep finding new ways to explore an avenue of metal that many other bands before them have already driven along and demolished before them, but if what's available on Fractured is any indication, these guys are in it for the long haul, and we metal fans are the ones who will reap the benefits from their journey. Now back to thinking about beer and boobs... ah, there we go.

- Greg

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