“Carnival of Killers”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Hurry, hurry, hurry! The Midway is open! Don’t miss Dr. Harry Holmes’ unique and one of a kind collection of bones! Richard Speck….is he a she or she a he? Only one way to find out! And if you have nerves of steel, don’t miss the amazing Leonard Lake torture show. No kids under 10 admitted! And your musical accompaniment for this collection of freaks, geeks and goofballs? Who else but MACABRE???

The weird career of Chicago’s murder metal maestros takes another strange turn, as they are now back on Nuclear Blast Records. Who woulda thunk? But 2020 has brought us many surprises and this is one that actually delights me. These three maniacs, who have been together for well over 30 years, haven’t changed their style a bit. They still play a unique combination of extreme metal with more popular forms of music ranging from kids’ nursery rhymes to country swing to German folk to pop punk, liberally laced with incredibly detailed and tasteless lyrics based on serial killers and human fiends. “Carnival of Killers” seems them catchier and more varied than ever, yet still utterly metallic.

I think if there’s one song here that sums up MACABRE, it’s got to be “Joe Ball Was His Name”. An ode to a Texas killer who fed waitresses to alligators, this track has the goofiest, bounciest chorus in the band’s career. I mean, seriously, just try and get this vocal line out of your head. Which brings me to the brilliance of Mr. Corporate Death, whose vocal range and impeccable timing on this record are enough to make my eyeballs shoot from my head. Think of any vocal style except mumble rap and he nails it here. He does that high pitched shrieky whine he’s best known for, but also some great bluesy singing on “Them Dry Bones”, perfectly clean and precise German on “Warte, Warte” and deep clean bass on several tracks. He doesn’t miss a trick. And he plays great lead guitar as well. When will this guy get the recognition he is due?

If you like just pure death or thrash metal, MACABRE is not really the ticket. This band is about focusing many types of music through an extreme metal lens. And believe me, the death/thrash/hardcore side of MACABRE is in full flow, especially on heavy crushers like “Tea Cakes” and “The Lake of Fire”. But to that they add incredibly catchy and addictive vocals and sick humor. When the song “Stinky”, dedicated to John Wayne Gacy, switches to a refrain based on the old “Slinky” toy commercial, I just about bust a gut.

To be really unique is a blessing in this world of monotone metal, so I suggest you grab the wife and kids and head out to the “Carnival of Killers” for some riveting and revolting entertainment…