Car Bomb – ‘Mordial’

By Liam Knowles

What do you get if you combine the mechanical churn of Meshuggah, the transcendent groove of Deftones, and the unhinged volatility of The Dillinger Escape Plan, then add a load of machine noises and PEW PEW PEW laser sounds over the top? Well, chances are you’ll get an unlistenable mess – unless, of course, you happen to be Car Bomb, in which case you’ll get one of the most interesting and exciting metal albums of 2019.

Make no mistake, ‘Mordial’ is not an easy listen. Even your most hardened metalhead might be taken aback by the rapid-fire vocals on ‘Vague Skies’, or the dissonant, broken-robot riffery of ‘Scattered Sprites’ – but those who like to be challenged by their heavy music choices should find more than enough to unpack on this rubix cube of an album. It’s hard not to mention ‘Dissect Yourself’, easily the most ludicrous track on the album, which goes from barely audible low-end guitar work to piercingly high laser sounds without a sniff of a warning. The absurdity of this track might raise a giggle from some, but when placed amongst the rest of this overwhelming album it totally works and flows in a way a track that sounds like a Star Wars battle scene really shouldn’t flow.

The musicianship on this album is second to none, and anyone who has been lucky enough to catch Car Bomb live will tell you that they’re as impossibly tight on the stage as they are on record. The harsh vocals from Michael Dafferner are, for the most part, delivered straight, which is perfect for the musical backdrop – if they were as manic as everything else, it might get a bit much. His cleans aren’t amazing, but they sit well against the more melodic passages, low enough in the mix for them to not be an issue if you’re not keen on them. He also sounds a little bit like Phil Anselmo at times, which once heard becomes difficult to unhear, but again this totally works, especially on ‘Blackened Battery’ as it combines with a divebomb-heavy solo that could have been straight off a Pantera album, if Pantera were visitors from the year 3019.

Car Bomb are never going to be anyone’s gateway band into heavy music; they’re completely bonkers and a lot of people will probably struggle to get their head round them. However, if you’re already waist-deep in experimental heavy music and want a new challenge that will make you grin as much as it makes you think, then ‘Mordial’ is an excellent shout.


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