(11 Oct 2013)
Dark. Thundering. Pesado. Three words that could start to describe Paraiso Sin Fe? There you go. Everything about Karonte’s long-overdue sophomore album, which translates to “Faithless Paradise”, growls with killer vibes that ring throughout the piece like vibrations in a bell. There is no gentle way to break these tracks to you- you hit the ground hard with “Carne” and soon you’re engulfed in the deep soundscape of monstrous bass with the constant chugging of heavy chords setting the ever-changing groove of the piece. I’m actually glad I put this one on my iPod to listen to it on the go, because there’s not a chance in hell I’m taking it off anytime soon. I usually start things by saying I wasn’t sure what I was going to expect, but having previously noted that I went ahead and checked out Karonte’s older tracks (from their only other full length studio album, Letargo), and I could see quickly that this record would have a lot to live up to. These four have done a damn good job at honing their unique sound through a long series of demos and one EP, starting in 1994 and keeping a steady pace of releases leading up to Paraiso.
Every metal band has their Black Album that they can never really top; I think Karonte hit that mark pretty early in the making of this record. The vocals are a powerful guttural roar that fill any space left unoccupied by the strings and drumwork. Bass is the foundation for everything here- and gives every track a liberal amount of heft and brawn that’s hard to find even in the broad spectrum of death metal. If you’re a real lint-picker you could say that some of the guitar work becomes a tad monotonous after a while, with a lot of the songs relying on heavier chords to keep a mid-paced rhythm throughout. I say this is simply part of their sound that they as a group have mastered, just as relying on a constantly changing array of complex guitar work might apply to another artist. The percussion provides ample framework for the tracks while not overstaying their welcome, lending a constantly changing, thunderous rhythm to each. The larger portion of this 40 minutes is solely cut-and-dry, groove-ish death metal. The only time the pattern is broken is for a somewhat peaceful reprieve during the intro to the final track, “Gris”. Spoiler alert- it turns out to be one of the heaviest songs on the album.
There’s no overstating how well-crafted Karonte’s sound is on this release. From start to finish, you immediately catch the feel of their no frills, straight to the point type of play. And in their particular case it’s hard to find anything to complain about in that. In a genre filled with countless copies and constant redundancy, this Spanish quartet does an outstanding job of breaking the mold while still keeping things pleasantly familiar. There’s just enough melody in the mix to keep things in perspective- seldom do you feel as though you’ve lost place in the rhythm without being able to jump right back in with the help of a riff you didn’t even know you were hearing. To my limited medical knowledge it all just works, just works on some deep cognitive level that escapes my understanding. You’re listening to it for the second or third time and you’re catching things you didn’t the last, and as a result each listen is it’s own experience. My only drawback in this is that the tracks don’t flow together as seamlessly as I would like, and even then I can’t use that as a detractor because that’s how this was intended to be listened to. If Faithless Paradise was meant to be a one-track type of experience, then that’s how they would have set out to make it and it probably wouldn’t sound the same as it does now. You know what it is meant to be? An 8-track maelstrom that stands out as a gem in the current death-metal scene.
I have sky-high hopes for Karonte’s future- I’m already anticipating the evolution of their sound and the greatness that their junior release is sure to be exuding with. In an ideal world where these guys (and metal, for that matter) got the recognition they deserved, people would refer to other great works as the “Paraiso Sin Fe” of their career. I say that comfortably.
Highlights: Carne, Repta Humano, Gris
Written by: Isaac Moore