Forming in 2002, Swedish death/thrash Metal outfit Karnivore have had their fair share of setbacks, predominantly the tragic death of their original bass player Patrik Mårtensson in 2009 from cancer, something that undoubtedly played a part in the delayed release of their debut full length album 'The Triumphant Khaoz' which, although recorded in 2009, didn't get released until 2012.
They are back with their second full length and the original line-up has slimmed down from a five piece to a trio, with the departure also of Timmy Persson. Soundwise, although described as a death/thrash hybrid, there is a blackened edge to the sound also but with a quite clean, slightly restrained edge to the guitars and even a melodic quality at times, from Jens Englund which contrasts well against the excellent blackened rasping vocals of Martin Holmqvist, which are absolutely killer and my favourite aspect of the album.
The drum work from Mattias Johansson is quite low key, but is well executed nonetheless.
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The album consists of eight, on the whole, well crafted tracks. The opener, 'Under Ground', begins with a symphonic, windblown sound-bite, expanding out to become blackened and up tempo with some great riffs, particularly towards its latter end.
There are a lot of catchy choruses, particularly on the second track, 'Feast Upon The Living' a darker and more intense track where the guitars get a touch dirtier, a favourite with me. I also really enjoyed 'Ut ur askan' which has an even more brutal edge to the vocals and I liked that they were also in Swedish; they sat well alongside the mix of punchy death metal riffs and slightly dirty blackened riffs.
The other track that really caught my attention was the title track, 'In The Halls Of The Wicked', it has a long melodic opener before turning on you and becoming, dark and ominous with the catchy and melodic returning for the chorus, making it an interesting and well constructed track.
'An Era Of Decay' is a great track with an intriguing build to the opener and a good direction change a third of the way through but it's just a touch too longwinded overall and the guitars briefly seemed to go bit adrift at one point.
'The Warden' was another track that was a touch too long but it does have some really good guitar segments in places which make up for the longwinded nature of the track. The five minute long 'Psycho' is up tempo and intense with some very nice riff work midway as the tempo drops down briefly and is a good track, although it could have easily ended at the four minute mark.
'Mr Gein' rounds the album off nicely, it's sinister but the chorus is somewhat "cheesy", I like to think this is intentional dark humour and as I reached the end I did feel like giving the album a second spin which is always a good sign.
Overall 'In The Halls Of The Wicked' is a pretty good album, it lost me in a few places but the likeable elements greatly outweighed the negative aspects.
The album is released by Lake of Fire Productions and will be distributed through Sound Pollution Distribution