When I reviewed Carthagods’ debut release (“Carthagods” of 2015), despite praising that album I foresaw that the Tunisian band had yet to attain their true potential. Sophomore album “The Monster In Me” does justice to that hunch.
Once again the songwriting quality is top-notch but with “The Monster In Me” we find a band that, more than before, is carving its own sound. To an extent the music is Progressive, in the sense that the compositions are dynamically diverse…some gloomy undertones even offer a link to the Doom subgenre. Personally, however, I’d pigeon-hole this music simply as Epic Metal.
Metal vernacular aside, the lead vocals sound powerful and dramatic, slightly abrasive but with a strong sense of melody. The music itself, in fact, is awash with powerful melodies and impressive guitar harmonies. The bridge mid-way through the catchy ‘The Devil’s Dolls’ is a great example of how intense the guitars can get. Opening track ‘Whispers From The Wicked’ possesses a darkly epic feel that vaguely reminds me of Evergrey. The title-track contains melodies that hint at the band’s national heritage. On the other hand ‘The Rebirth’ reminded me of Judas Priest’s ‘Beyond The Realms of Death’. Admittedly all these references belittle the songs because in truth there’s more to them than that.
‘Memories Of Neverending Pains’ had already appeared in the band’s aforementioned debut even though it’s adorned differently this time around, with no female vocals. Next, album closer ‘the Rebirth’, is an instrumental and orchestral version of the song that appears elsewhere in the album. It’s a truly bewitching number. Personally, however, I don’t think these two tracks should have been part of the album…although they’re both very different from their respective counterparts, they almost suggest that the band has run out of ideas, which I’m sure is not the case.
I also get the feeling that the orchestrations are natural bedfellows of Carthagods’ songs – in turn this made me think that the orchestral approach might be one road to embrace in some distant future.
But the important thing, for now, is that this is a very well-balanced album. Just as you feel the music is starting to lose your interest, something else creeps up from nowhere…maybe a riff, maybe an unexpected tempo change, maybe a solo… and hooks you back in. If it does nothing else, “The Monster In Me” indicates that Carthagods are poised to take the world by storm. Do give this album a chance…you won’t regret it.
1. Whispers From The Wicked
2. The Monster In Me
3. The Devil’s Dolls
4. The Rebirth
5. A Last Sigh
6. Cry Out For The Land
7. Memories Of Neverending Pains
8. The Rebirth (orchestral version)
Playing Time: 48:33
Mahdi Khema - lead vocals
Tarak ben Sassi - guitars
Yessine Belghith - bass
Aymen Ben Hamed – drums
Timo Somers – guitar (guest)