Carthagods - Carthagods - (8/10)
Published on August 6, 2015
It is widely known that the Vikings were a seafaring folk that explored wide swaths of the world not just to plunder and pillage, but mostly to trade and explore. For some reason it seems that they left a particularly deep impression on the lesser known Nordic country of Tunisia, with Ymyrgar releasing an all-out viking metal album last year and now Carthagods proudly proclaiming “I Am a Viking” on their self-titled debut album. Now Carthagods (clever wordplay) hail from Carthage in the north east of the country and knowing the quality of their compatriots Myrath, the outlook on hearing some progressive power metal from this quintet is an intriguing prospect.
That the Tunisians are not greenhorns just barely knowing their instruments is proven by a little bit of research into their past, which reveals that at one point Dutch guitarist Marcel Coenen had been part of the line up (and features as a guest lead guitarist on the album) and throughout the last three years had illustrious names such as Max Cavalera, Fabio Lione, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Paul Di’Anno guest at live shows of theirs, so not bad for a band that is just releasing its debut album. The fact that they have been around for 18 years already might also have had something to do with this, though.
So as mentioned before, Carthagods are categorised as progressive power metal and it actually is quite accurate, as long as you don’t expect overly complex compositions, but rather a varied approach to the genre. Vocally Mehdi Khema hails from the Stephen Frederick-school of frontmen, powerful and with a little grit, but it fits the Tunisians’ sound very well. “My Favourite Disguise” is a riff-oriented, fast opener, where Khema’s strong voice leaves its mark and Tim Owens also adds a little guest vocals to add to the mix. Speaking of mix, his voice has suffered in the final mix and is too low to really notice him and the production is probably the weakest point of Carthagods in the end.
“A Last Sigh” and “My Revenge” can’t fully compete with the opener, but equipped with great guitarwork, even the more sluggish songs have their quality, the rank of second highlight, though, goes to “Memories of Never Ending Pain” (also available as an acoustic version at the end of the album with Diabolus in Musica’s Zuberoa Aznarez), an excellent ballad, where Carthagods show a lot of talent to keep a slow eight and a half minute song flowing and interesting, not least through Zuberoa’s addition.
The above-mentioned “I Am a Viking” actually is an Yngwie Malmsteen cover version off his 1985 album Marching Out, which is an adequate endeavour, nothing outstanding, though, but a nice segue into the third and last highlight of Carthagods, which is “Eater of Sin”, which is the power metal firecracker of the album, starting out very calm and then explodes with sharp riffing and plenty of power, allowing Mehdi to really shine.
The production is the biggest downfall of Carthagods, but even with this the band’s potential is very clear and with “My Favourite Disguise”, “Memories of Never Ending Pain” and “Eater of Sin” have three songs that can rival most established bands of the genre. A great start for Carthagods and building on this, their second album could be a true force to be reckoned with, especially if they get the production values under control as well!