Infinite // Unknown
16th September 2016 - Stay Sick Recordings
03. Black Mirror
05. Wolf Without A Pack
09. The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn
10. Nothing But The Rain
11. Truth pt I. (Nothing Is Real)
12. Truth pt II. (Everything Is Permitted)
There’s almost nothing more endearing in underground music than artists who put their work in. The televised talent shows that have become popular since the turn of the century have shown that whilst talent is important, you can’t fast-track experience, and most of the winners of these reality experiments have quickly faded back into obscurity when everyone realises that they have no idea how to command a stage and are about as interesting, artistically, as the puddle of projectile vomit my cousin left on the carpet at his third birthday party last week.
Ranking at the complete opposite end of the puke spectrum are Carcer City, recently (and perhaps aptly, in the case of this metaphor) signed to Stay Sick Recordings, and one of the north west’s – and probably the entire UK’s – hardest working, farthest traveled bands. A cursory glance at their touring history reveals an extensive familiarity with a hundred or more venues across the UK and Europe, with crowds charmed and battered in equal measure with absolute sincerity by a band whose primary focus is and always has been putting on a good show.
Despite their more metalcore roots, Carcer City have been wholly adopted by the UK’s tech metal scene, playing more than a handful of events related to UK Tech Fest. The influence on Infinite // Unknown is undeniable; whilst Carcer have often constructed songs more interesting than your common or garden core band, a variety of the album’s facets borrow from progressive metal, from ventures into interesting electronic territory, through pleasingly syncopated riffing, and right down to the very guitar tones of Antony Moss and Lewis Hughes. The package is even more enticing than before, and this attention to detail in the composition of the songs is laudable; Carcer know their audience, and are keen to please them, but it’s clearly more than a servile attempt to please people – the progression ultimately feels natural.
Perhaps in keeping with these progressive theme, the band show their nerdier side, sampling the first Mass Effect game in “Sovereign“, as well as making naked reference to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight with “The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn“. Towards the end of the record, focus shifts to philosophy on “Truth pt I. (Nothing Is Real)” with Professor David Sosa’s thoughts on free will and the predetermination of basic physical laws playing over a more serene Carcer City. Its twin, “Truth pt II. (Everything Is Permitted)” riffs off this, with vocalist Patrick Pinion’s take on the concepts. These tidbits, while musically irrelevant to a point, add flavour to the record; they’re stylistic hooks that convey personality, which is something Carcer have in spades. They’re a well-traveled, storied bunch, and that’s something you can’t manufacture.
At an expansive 52 minutes, there are naturally multiple peaks to Infinite // Unknown; a range of particularly colourful highlights to latch on to. Over that length of time, there’s invariably lot of what you might reasonably expect from the style: driving riffs, combative vocals and breakdowns – and that’s not always comprehensively captivating – but certain songs really stand out; early emoter “Black Mirror” plays along Carcer’s softer edge at times, while the extended intro of “Sovereign” builds the track up into the satisfying mid-album wedge of catharsis that it is.
So unlike a lot of bands in this style – rightly maligned mimics that they are – Carcer City are infinitely more interesting, yet unjustly unknown. May that change imminently; comprised of songs with more than a passing replay value, and matched with Carcer City’s exemplary musicianship and muscular presentation, Infinite // Unknown will hopefully propel a most deserving band towards even greater success.