It has been about two years since Mangled Carpenter entered my reality with their debut album “Under the Shadow” on Haggah Records (which no longer exists…). Since then, the Rottweiler subsidiary was absorbed into the core record company, and band members have started their own record label (brokencurfewrecords.bandcamp.com) and co-released their 2nd full-length on it (as a co-release with Rottweiler) as well as re-re-released their Christmas EP (A Very Mangled Christmas). Given that it is not yet Christmas, I’ll give you a guess as to which release, I will be talking about in this article.
According to Mangled Carpenter’s Facebook, “We put almost two years of writing, producing, recording, and engineering into this album. We allowed it to breathe, morph, and transform into its own living creature,” and having listened to everything that this band has put out, I would have to say that this is incredibly evident on this album. Where I am still uncertain that they actually adhere to any specific metal sub-genre, as deathgrind/grindcore is probably the closest approximation I can think of to say that this album feels incredibly more mature and focused than their previous work sounds weird, but this is just how it is. Where the chaos of “Under the Shadow” was what ingratiated the band to me, it is an unsustainable direction to maintain as eventually the novelty of chaos wears off and you have to have something behind it to sustain the momentum, or the trend will burn itself out (I mean, how many of you late 90s “Juggalos” are banging the new ICP albums, am I right?).
Now, for those of you who are familiar with how I like to review albums, I prefer to break them down track by track and talk about lyrics and song structure, but I don’t think I am going to do that this time around as someone has beat me to it (http://www.breathingthecore.com/2023/10/track-by-tracks-mangled-carpenter.html) and quite frankly I cannot definitively say that anything I say will be a completely original IP as I have already read the mentioned article. I do want to hit some highlights, though.
Lumberyard was my first impression of the album. This goes beyond the fact that it is the first track on the album but was also the first single they released in the promotional lead-up to the album release. There is a pick-tapping technique Seth uses during the verses (is that what they are?) that made me go, “Holy crap, Seth. Why you gotta go so hard?” I think that this is super demonstrative as to what it is about this band that hooks me every time I listen to something by them; they are super tech in the sense that they incorporate diminished 17th chords or can play a bazillion notes in succession over the course of 3 seconds. Instead, they demonstrate tech by maintaining fluidity. They are constantly shifting movements, feels, time signatures, and keys. They let the song go where it wants to go but in a repeatable way. In short, it is a musical application of the scientific method.
Something else I appreciate DEEPLY (pun absolutely intended) is the increased presence of Bassist Kris Olson. My absolute favorite song on the album is “A Path to Sorrow,” and the biggest reason is because it showcases what Kris brings to this band so well. The low burping tone of his dropped-tuned bass adds so much menace to this track that I genuinely feel like this song was explicitly designed to incite violence.
The final highlight I want to talk about is the track “Severed”. This song legitimately made me involuntarily use some blue language when I first heard it. I am a fan of double bass. This song is ridiculous with it. I think this is where my review will devolve into personal theory, as I don’t think their credited drummer is a real person. I have MANY reasons for believing this, but we’ll leave it at that: the drums feel super triggered and quantized as well, and there are a few moments on this track (and the track Spit Parade) that I am convinced aren’t possible for humans to actually do. So, it may be that the pseudonym Mac Hine may be a bit more than a funny name. (I will also say that the Betrayal shirt they wear is masked in the picture in the liner notes; I have seen pictures of Seth wearing it in recent things as well…. so…. conspiracy revealed?
So, to conclude, this album is ridiculously good, and if you like bands like The Red Chord or Napalm Death, then you NEED this album. Seth is the Christian Rob Zombie. Kris’s bass makes me want to hurt people, and Mac Hine doesn’t exist.
Final score: 4.75 out of 5 Curfews Broken