(Stay Sick Recordings)
Sometimes it takes severe hardship to persevere, and often you find beauty after tragedy. Those mantras are the perfect encapsulation for UK progressive metalcore group Carcer City, who have overcome a road accident in 2013 (that thankfully left the members alive) and line-up changes to create their best record to date. Infinite//Unknown discusses a wide range of lofty subjects; however, Carcer City carved out a positive message amongst all the personal and professional noise of the past few years: while you cannot stop the inevitable processes in life, you can understand, overcome, and move forward. That perseverance helps give this already excellent record an added weight. Unlike too many heavy bands that steer toward nihilism, Carcer City recognize the value in optimism even in light of life’s darkness. The fact that this record may never have come out adds just another layer of sonic joy to the proceedings.
All this touch-y feel-y tissue-bait wouldn’t mean a thing if Infinite//Unknown were just a shiny, stuffed turd. Thankfully, Carcer City’s newfound tenacity carried over to their music, which has been taken to new, exciting heights. This is a dexterous beast- equally soothing and savage. Shades of Architects, Heart of a Coward, and cinematic post-rock shine forth, but it’s the band’s keen sense of melody, both up front and in the background, that help Carcer City stand out from the growing prog metalcore pack. Songs like “Black Mirror” and “Covington” (among others) showcase how well Carcer City nail the balance between the light and dark. Beautiful, piano-led sections are countered by truly earth-shattering riffs. Elsewhere, “Sovereign” and “The Night Is Darkest Before the Dawn” up the ante, providing more technical riffs amid more prominent atmospheric sections. The former tune is the closest Carcer City gets to an all-out banger, but the electronic influence really adds to the feel of the track. The electronicore breakdown is one to make The Browning very jealous, in part because of its brevity and efficiency. The latter song features some of the best riffs on the record, with vocalist Patrick Pinion showing off his clean and harsh range effectively.
Ultimately, the triumphant feel of these tunes, married with a near-perfect mix of melody and brutality, help elevate Carcer City to the upper echelon of modern metalcore. There are a lot of bands doing similar things right now, so it’s difficult to parse out the talented from the truly excellent. Carcer City are clearly in the latter side, with Infinite//Unknown proving itself to be one of the standout releases so far this year. That said, it’s easy to see that this isn’t the band’s best work yet. By furthering their cinematic and electronic dalliances, it would not be surprising if the group’s next album takes them to further heights. For now, releasing one of the year’s best tech/metalcore records is more than enough.