Even the healthiest of eaters needs a cheat day. No matter how creative one gets with the fruits and veggies, there’s no replacing good old fashioned junk food. Sure, that slightly-too-large slice of cake might leave you feeling a little bit slow, a little bit bloated, maybe even a little bit ashamed…but it was delicious enough to be worth the tummyache, wasn’t it? LIK’s second album Carnage is just such a treat, a record that has absolutely no nutritional value, and it knows it. Not just that: it positively revels in the emptiness of its calories, which makes it all the more fun to consume.
Carnage is the sort of album one describes with recourse to improbable acts of violence committed with all manner of inventive weaponry. The deep, thunderous buzz of the guitar might be described as a ‘stampede’ on the fast tracks like “Cannibalistic Infancy”, or in the case of slower tunes like “The Deranged”, as something more inexorable, like the approach of a steamroller. And maybe the steamroller’s gargantuan roll is covered in barbed wire, and it’s being driven by a little gremlin who has just done unspeakable things to innocent animals. Why not? Carnage is that kind of album. Indeed, LIK themselves describe the first single, “Rid You Of Your Flesh”, as ‘sheer power coming at you as a knuckle sandwich to your face’, which is both a succinct encapsulation of the album’s slapstick savagery, and immensely endearing to boot.
That said, ‘knuckle sandwich’ doesn’t half cover Carnage’s, well, carnage. The lyrical content here is like something a random word generator might come up with after being fed the discographies of Cannibal Corpse, GWAR and Zimmer’s Hole. This is hard-R gore with a goofball twist, some of the more printable examples being “Rid You Of Your Flesh” throwing to the bridge with ‘In death your gods give me head’, or “The Deranged”’s eponymous character being described in the chorus as ‘a molesting, raping, killing machine’ on an endless, Hamburglar-esque quest for ‘human meat, his favorite to eat’, or “Cannibalistic Infancy”, a song about a fetus eating its way out of its mother’s womb. Chances are, dear reader, that you already know whether or not this is up your alley.
It’s that commitment to absurd, old school slasher mayhem that gives Carnage its true propulsion. LIK’s songs are solid, full of gnarly riffs, ripping solos and neck-crunching grooves. There are no tricks here, no frills or flourishes, a fact that might threaten to blur the back half of the album into anonymity were it not for those preposterous, unforgettable song premises. It’s a clever approach, one that manages to keep Carnage fresh and engaging without demanding too much deviation from the simple-yet-effective formula established up top. Granted, it makes for slightly diminishing returns on repeat listens, but there’s still an enduring, devious charm to be found in a song like “Dr. Duschanka” and the, uh, let’s say ‘hasty circumcision’ that serves as its inciting incident.
So it goes. Carnage is a horror funhouse of an album, one that wants to shock you, sicken you, but ultimately leave you laughing, and on all three counts it is immensely successful. I can’t blame anybody for not being on board with its very particular sensibilities, but those who are will find a lot to love from LIK’s latest. It may not be nutritious, and it may even leave you queasy, but these are some of the best empty calories I’ve encountered this year.
Notable Tracks: “Rid You Of Your Flesh”; “Dr Duschanka”; “The Deranged”
FFO: Cannibal Corpse, Trap Them, Zimmer’s Hole