Review: “Images of Tyranny” by Carthus

While Cathus claim Melbourne Australia as their home, the five piece are actually a truly multinational force with a Serbian Shredder on guitars and an Indian warrior on vocals.  Mastered by Thomas ‘Plec’ Johansson (Scar Symmetry, Mayhem, Saint Deamon) at Panic Room Studios, “Images of Tyranny” follows on from where their three track self titled demo released in 2021 left off. Cryptic writings of a collapsing society and humanity frozen in time in metaphor laden chronicles soaking a blend of Melodic Death, Thrash and Folk Metal to the bone…

Fierce and complex “Fed to The Lions” prises open the mind to the offerings of Carthus with something that you might not expect. The storytelling begins with some “Master Of Puppets” style Metallica melodies providing a soothing moment before transcending into an infusion of Progressive leaning Death Thrash that is nothing short of stunning. Over the course of five and a half minutes the band mesmerise with spellbinding vibrant leads while Indian vocalist Abhi delivers a bloodcurdling Death Metal styled vocal that is the heaviest thing on the track and yet somehow doesn’t sound out of place. The verve and swagger continues with “Vindictive Retribution“, the band brimming with confidence in their sound and offering up flavours of bands like Trivium in the process. Some of the lead work is incredible and borders on virtuoso but cleverly done so as not to lose the narrative of the song itself or show off with mindless self indulgence. The riffs pack a really satisfying punch, as the vocals get deeper and darker, Abhi showing more range on “Blood Crown” with a couple of shriller moments, his elongated roar mid cut sounding like that of an impaled beast. A classic extended Traditional Metal solo on that one is an absolute pleasure, pointing to the diversity of the bands abilities in musicianship, they could easily turn their hands to some other sub-genres like Power Metal should their hearts desire. A clever call and response in the guitar work that opens “Method in the Madness” is well thought before a continuation of what is by this point a signature blend of brutal intensity and haunting melodies. Lyrically addressing existential despair and the futility of existence with a CJ McMahon level of vocal performance, the cut makes for a powerhouse and one of the albums many stand outs.

With a title like “Warborne” you might expect that Carthus would go all out reign of terror but they have other enthralling and captivating ideas up their collective sleeves. Flamboyant soloing continues and electrifyingly pace over Folk Metal rooted rhythms with the influences of Scandinavian climbs as obvious as a hammer smashed thumb. It’s not just good, it’s majestic to the point of approaching opulent. The same rooted offering is in “Nightmare” however it twists and contorts with blast beats that flow into a galloping momentum and ends up being a tour de force of what Carthus are all about, bringing together each element and putting it onto a single easy to digest piece of electrifying music. Odd time signatures bring a playfulness to cuts like “Swamp Monster” which has sublime storytelling from Abhi and is the kind of fun you’d expect from Nekrogoblikon. This one actually feels like a sea shanty, the only thing missing an accordion, the laughter sounding like it’s that of Black Beard himself as he puts a Crocodile to the sword. Throwing some fuel on the fire “Blind Supremacy” dials up the intensity with more crushing riffs and some schizophrenic rants that disorientate. Heavier than the mid album offerings which have a lot of melodic orientation, this one still has a dark spoken word and a glorious solo, feeling perhaps more well rounded than some of the moments that precede it. A fine way to bring the album to a close, “Ripples In Time” features piano written by Benjamin Harvey, giving the album a Dream Theatre style Progressive meandering moment to conclude [8/10]

Track Listing

1. Fed to the Lions
2. Vindictive Retribution
3. Blood Crown
4. Method in the Madness
5. Warborne
6. Nightmare
7. Swamp Monster
8. Blind Supremacy
9. Ripples in Time

Images of Tyranny” by Carthus is out 21st July 2023 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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