Released: 2016, Revalve Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
The abiding feeling of Carved's second full-length album is one of future promise. It's an album with plenty to offer in the here and now, with hints at the potential for much more in years and albums to come. On initial spins it comes across as a competent if not outstanding piece of melodic death metal, not too far in general style from Arch Enemy or Scar Symmetry, with violin and orchestral effects lending it some similarity to SepticFlesh or Fleshgod Apocalypse, though not aiming for quite the same grandiose scale. But as the album is experienced further, the variety and deeper understanding of song-craft reveals itself.
Throughout the album, all the different aspects feel good, but do not quite assert themselves as immediately as they might. The vocals, the riffing, the use of the orchestral side, all of it comes together well enough to create a decent melodeath album, one that certainly isn't just yet another copy-paste of older bands. I can't doubt for a moment that this is a band trying hard, that much is clear, just still with a bit of ground to cover. Which isn't to say Kyrie Eleison doesn't have stand-out moments, there are plenty of those. The solo work on "Malice Striker" and "Lilith" is delicious, "Heart of Gaia" is a rising piano-driven piece, "Faith" is a largely instrumental track that builds to a captivating ending, and "Camlann"'s opening is wonderfully explosive. Those orchestral and string aspects of the album come out a lot more on the second half, "Absence", "Faith" and "The Hidden Ones" in particular make great use of them. On the negative side, the cover of Bloodhound Gang's "Bad Touch" at the end feels very out of place; I'm all for metal covers of non-metal songs, but this one loses the charm and catchiness of the original, and doesn't replace it with anything.
All those moments that stand out, even "Bad Touch", highlight the band's real strength: their willingness to experiment, including an attention to album dynamics and song structure missing from a lot of bands. This isn't to say that Carved is or likely ever will be some kind of avant-garde experimental insanity, but they don't have to be. The songs on the album are nicely varied, some blast along at a thrashy pace, others slow it down and build as the song progresses. Songs like "Heart of Gaia" show that these guys aren't afraid to shift gears to keep things interesting, "Bad Touch" might not work that well in itself, but it does show a band that doesn't always take itself completely seriously, and isn't afraid to do something for the fun of it. The variety within the album, the understanding that it shouldn't just sound like the same damn song a dozen times over, goes beyond many other bands.
For a sophomore album, this is good stuff, and more than anything gives the impression of a band that know what they're doing, know how to write a good album, and with some more years of experience under their belt could produce something really spectacular. Kyrie Eleison itself is worth a listen for any melodeath fans. Even if this particular album isn't going to crack that many top-10 lists, I'll be keeping an eye on this band going forward, and I suggest you do the same.