You’ve had it happen a million times. You go somewhere; you go to a bar or a restaurant or are just birthed into this meaningless shitshow we call fucking life and somewhere somehow, somebody gives you something you didn’t ask for, and you sure as hell don’t want, like… life. Some people smile and consume regardless, and some people are world-renowned latex-clad ski instructor Andrew Wieler and your favorite dumpster diving jackass, Jason Greenberg. Regardless of what kind of person you are, neither of us can think of a scenario where anyone looked at the vast expanse that is the world of music and thought, “You know what we’re missing? More metal renditions of circus jigs and children’s nursery rhymes retrofitted to haphazardly include mention of famous serial killers.” That said, much like ordering a hamburger and nice pint of stout, we’ve received a deep-fried pigeon with a side of whale jizz to wash it down with, artistically speaking at least. Behold before you, Chicago, IL native Macabre and their latest sonic smorgasbord Carnival of Killers. Take a big deep breath and maybe a shot of something first.
Let’s get some of the basic stuff out of the way before we break out the fucking tar, feathers, and pitchforks. I fully understand that ultimately this band, ergo this record, is very much cultist art. It’s not for everybody, and it’s the unique creative output of a set of very unique individuals doing something that they enjoy and hopefully know isn’t for everybody. That being said, I am also not everybody and I still could have absolutely gone without an auditory summary of your deranged fucking Netflix watchlist (Andrew: Note to self, don’t discuss Netflix watchlist with Jason later while spooning). Macabre’s bread and butter is exactly how it’s described above; nursery rhymes, circus jigs, all in various metal reimaginations and Carnival of Killers is as promised. I’ll spoil some surprises for you. There’s a metal rendition of the nursery rhyme “The Wheels On The Bus” reimagined to forcibly include the topic of renowned dad crush serial killer Ted Bundy, dubbed “The Wheels On The Bug.” This is art to some. To me, however, this song created a trance that made me look at my laptop like it could very much become a frisbee any second now.
Now let’s get off the content for a second; Grindcore is often a “poorly” mixed and mastered product because grindcore is supposed to be fucking vile, raw, and birthed from Satan’s asshole. I’m by no means shy or aversive to these things as you can very much see from my horridly unhealthy sex life with Mr. Wieler. As far as grindcore and affiliate combinations on this record go, it’s worthy of being represented by one of the biggest metal labels in the world (I love you so much Nuclear Blast, why did you do this to me?) but when you dip back into the content itself, the actual finished product TO ME, is my hell. It’s a fucking tornado of things that I cant often stand, from my childhood traumas, and back to more things that I think are excessive and equivalent to a rusty prostatectomy. I still very much understand the kind of person that would enjoy this record and all of its quirky fucking fuckness, but Carnival of Killers was truthfully one of the hardest things I’ve had to listen to all year. Put all the bells and whistles aside and flush the creative fucking bullshit down the drain. I really and honestly wanted to try and say something as objective as possible here, but listening to this combination of things was just not fucking fun for me, ALSO like my sex life with Mr. Wieler (Andrew: hurtful… don’t cry Andrew), but a jobs and job and here I am.
On paper, this should be an easy sell for me. I usually like weird things. Unexpect? Sign me up. Melted Bodies? I say yes to that quicker than a hug that’s a little too long hug from Jason (Jason: He means sex. We have sex, it’s terrifying). Bands who sing about serial killers… I just found out about Skynd last year and they’re great. But this is not any of those good things. No, this is the most “try-hard” of being weird. This is the “manic pixie” approach. “Oooooo I sing about serial killers and set it to kid’s songs. Look at me quirk at such a high level.” It’s frankly sad, though I guess they’ve been at this same schtick for 35 years(?!), so I guess points for consistency?
Can we start with the album cover? Usually, I’m not one to point something like this out, since each artist has “artistic license” and blah blah blah, but Macabre include a whole description of it in their profile. It is at once too cartoony for what it’s doing and not cartoony enough. Professional enough to convey what it wants to do, but not professional enough to pull it off with skill, and these critiques extend to the entire album, so I guess points for consistency?
Every part of this record is a tedious slog, unlike staring longingly into Jason Greenberg’s eyes (Jason: He means the sex again, and really it’s fucking grotesque). Even the very few parts that aren’t a slog, such as more thrash based songs like “Your Window is Open” and “Lake of Fire”, become a slog when juxtaposed with the rest of the album. Next to these perfectly good – scratch that – perfectly okay songs, are these terribly altered children’s songs like “Wheels on the Bug” and “Them Dry Bones,” a song I particularly hate. Placing these next to one another in this album makes everything feel that much more obnoxious and annoying, but it does stay that way the whole album, so I guess points again for consistency?
All in all, I think Jason and I can both agree that this record is for a particular subset of metal fans; ones who are not content with just liking metal. No, these are the ones who need another thing to add on as if liking metal doesn’t make them weird enough. So if you’re the type of person who listens to metal and makes sure to bring up your “real skull collection” at every opportunity, this record might be for you. Not like Jason and me, who aren’t quirky weirdos. Certainly not people who would casually joke about having sex with one another for just their amusement and no one else’s… oh…
So… I guess points for consistency?
Written by Jason Greenberg & Andrew Wieler
*Edited by Dominic Abate