Label: Stormspell Records
Release Date: August 2, 2018
Country: United States
Format Reviewed: CD SSR-DL-234
At the root of things the search for the next great metal band has kept us digging through music stores (Yes they actually still exist!), online reviews, social media, digitally and simply by word of mouth now forever. We have a tendency to compare and contrast every new band note by note to our favorite bands; especially the ones we’re most comfortable with in an effort to eventually trash said new bands? This seems illogical to want to find the next best thing, just to eventually say they aren’t as good as the original? However its done without exception in every review and each time we push play on whatever your choice of listening device may be. Saying all of that let’s dive right into a new band we should all pay very close attention to…Carriage!
Many times over the years we’ve seen a band compared perhaps to Iron Maiden or Mercyful Fate or even early Savatage meets Accept; however Carriage combines them all with their debut release “Visions” which is out now on Stormspell Records. The quintet who’s primary roots can be found from the bones of Possessor and hails from Portsmouth, Virginia. Carriage has been together since 2015 and are poised to let their brand of Traditional Heavy Metal to be heard by the masses. There’s just something about this record that draws you in? That special something that most bands lack is on full display with their unique qualities coupled together with intense yet melodic dueling guitars and chugging riffs, the horror-filled feel of Mercyful Fate and Robbie Rainey’s outrageous Bruce Dickinson meets King Diamond with hints of Udo Dirkschneider’s vocal delivery. So much so that upon the first spin or two through, it felt like it may have been too much? But after repeated listening those vocals combined with the stellar performances from the band just work so darn well together! Even the killer cover artwork from Mario Lopez gives off an authentic dark and occult like feel before you even hear the first notes played.
The sound of an eerie bell and carriage is pictured in your mind as “Visions” opens with an instrumental track The Procession; which immediately takes us back to that special place with a purely old school Iron Maiden intro that immediately kicks Primal Ritual into overdrive. Michael Martin and River Ashberry thoroughly dominate this recording with their fabulous intertwining guitar play reminiscent of many of the best acts from the early to mid 80’s! In The Night is a fine example of this with their vicious delivery yet melodic harmonies woven in. Then what may be the best track on the album Drink The Blood with it’s ghostly and fantastical feel throughout; this is a textured piece of music begging for your attention and keeping it! Drink The Blood showcasing what the band can become with Rainey’s more controlled delivery and the musicality from the band which is again superb. Deadly Corpse clearly highlighting the falsetto vocal style made famous by the incredible King Diamond and showcased throughout the album. Next up is the quite brooding track The Owl which is another chugging instrumental highlighting the bands chops here as this is a terrific song that should make for an intriguing opportunity in the live setting as it flows right into Hunting The Witch; striving to display just how talented these guys truly are, job well done. Gypsy Woman may be the one average track on “Visions” if there is one. The epic Alucarda (Also the longest track on “Visions”) brings everything together both as a mythical and exceptional song that should also be a live setting mainstay for those building the setlist. We see the album close with Medusa’s Stare and its clear King Diamond worship on display.
You may be put off at first listen by the perceived unoriginality and many will quickly stuff Carriage into the Attic, Portrait, In Solitude categories cloaked in throwback Mercyful Fate/King Diamond garb…But that would be a mistake! What may be lacking in complete originality should not hold you back from “Visions” as the quality is so distinctive and characteristic of a band thats clearly ascending! Carriage is loaded with promise which bodes well for the bands future. So allow your senses to truly explore this recording, listening to all of its components that make it such an impressive debut release. You’ll be happy you did…Highly Recommended! 9/10 Mö
9/10 Epic Storm
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