Macabre – Carnival of Killers

Macabre – Carnival of Killers
Reviewed: December 2020
Released: 2020, Nuclear Blast Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Believe it or not, there once was a time when the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy didn’t hold an infamous pop culture celebrity status. Decades before cable TV was dedicating hours of marathon programming focused on dissecting the psyche of serial killers, there was Macabre. Decades before there were umpteen thousand True Crime podcasts recounting the fastidious details of the most gruesome acts of serial killings and mass murders across all corners of the globe, there was Macabre.

Long before it was socially acceptable, Chicago’s Minstrels of Murder Metal were cataloging the worst of the worst against a musical backdrop that infused death, thrash, grind, technical prog and a healthy dose of black humor. Their 1993 sophomore SINISITER SLAUGHTER is readily recognized as a cornerstone of the early ‘90s death metal scene, offering up 22 bite sized sonnets that burned the names of Richard Speck, Edmund Kemper, Peter Kurtin, and the Zodiac Killer into the brains of many a nascent metalhead through blistering riffs and catchy as hell sing-a-longs. Over the course of 35 years and 6 albums, Macabre are an inimitable institution; it may be 7 to 10 years in between albums, but you know what you’re going to get and you know that you’re not going to hear anything else that sounds quite like it.

Their recently released CARNIVAL OF KILLERS certainly delivers on those expectations, while further emphasizing that Macabre won’t be bound by genre definitions. Tracks like “The Lake of Fire”, “The Murder Mack”, and “Now It’s Time to Pay” offer up more traditionally metal overtures, while tracks like “The Wheels on the Bug” parody the kiddie’s favorite “The Wheels on the Bus” with a Ted Bundy twist and “Stinky” saunters with some off tempo time signatures before settling into a similar parody of the classic “Slinky” toy theme song to accentuate the rotting smell of dead youths emanating from Gacy’s crawl space into his bathroom (“everyone knows it’s stinky”). And despite all of my best attempts, I’ve repeatedly found myself haunted by the chorus of “Joe Ball Was His Name” rattling in my head pretty much every morning since I started listening to CARNIVAL OF KILLERS. Like the best of Macabre’s body of work, it’s a ridiculously catchy set of fun and uniquely heavy tunes.

Is CARNIVAL OF KILLERS as good as Macabre’s classic material? That’s debatable. Casual listeners may find some of the creative fodder juvenile or rehashed (there’s only so many serial killers to create content from). And I’ll admit that the first couple of times I listened to CARNIVAL OF KILLERS I was on the fence, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite go-to records released this year. There’s no accounting for taste, but a catchy song is a catchy song no matter how much you might protest. At the end of the day, I’m just glad that Macabre is still around and still creating the kind of morbidly fun metal that only they can create.


Track List:
1. Intro
2. Your Window is Open
3. Joe Ball Was His Name
4. Stinky
5. Abduction
6. Tea Cakes
7. Them Dry Bones
8. Richard Speck Grew Big Breasts
9. Slaughter House
10. Breaking Point
11. The Lake of Fire
12. Warte, Warte
13. Now It’s Time to Pay
14. The Wheels on the Bug
15. Corpse Violator
16. The Murder Mack


Corporate Death – Vocals, Guitars
Nefarious – Bass
Dennis the Menace – Drums


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