REVIEW: Carnivora – Witch City

The evolution of Salem, Massachusetts metallers Carnivora continues on their latest single, “Witch City”. The band eschews some of their classic Modern Metal, Brutal Tech Death, Thrash, and groove-heavy tendencies to bring forth a mature, straight-forward melodic powerhouse of a track. 

Many songs in metal have been written about the persecution, paranoia, and horrors of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, one of the darkest marks in American History. I used to live in Salem, so don’t let the tourist magnet status fool you; the town and region is still thick with prejudice and puritanical stances regarding the topic. Hell, even in a town with the most famous haunted house in American history still needed The Satanic Temple to move in so they could diffuse misinformation and educate people. 

So when the band crafted this gem of a track, the story behind the song is not just a foil for the vocals, it is a living history lesson that clearly matters to the group. They took a lot of care to deliver a message that is classic and still timely. After the first few leadoff notes of the song reveals chord figure that you might find on an early Opeth or Katatonia album, you know you are definitely hearing a new flavor for the band. The song builds into a swirling, Heavy Metal march. Often associated with traditional thrash, this straight-ahead style is a refreshing change for them, which has learned they don’t have to smash you over the head with an avalanche of licks and chord changes here, but just letting each player shine and serve the song best. A lot of bands could learn a lesson from this kind of writing. 

Vocalist Haydee Irrazary (Aversed, Zahra Lux) turns in possibly her best vocal performance yet. It’s not the wild, scale-skipping acrobatics of their last single “Bog Dweller”, but her lines sit right in the pocket perfectly, with a badass brassy delivery that makes the haunting, and dire warning of lyrics even more impactful. She is also a master of the subtle double-track harmony, which is key. Just for the final effect, her gutturals at the end of the song are also super impressive, as usual. Like “Bogdweller,” “Witch City” was produced by Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act of Defiance) and mixed and mastered by Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed), and the pristine production sparkles.

This band seems to keep climbing new heights all the time and we’re looking forward to what comes next from the group. Also recommended, the thoughtfully created video for the track is a must-watch! 

8 / 10

KEITH CHAHCKES