History And General Info:
Macabre are a band that do for serial killers what Sabaton do for wars and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing do for Victorian London. All the songs here on Carnival Of Killers are about mass murderers and maniacs, which I suppose is a subject that fascinates many of us considering the amount of books, TV shows and indeed movies there are on the subject.
The band are a 3 piece under aliases Nefarious (real name Charles Lescewicz) on bass and vocals, Corporate Death (Lance Lencioni) guitars and vocals and finally Dennis The Menace (Dennis Ritchie) on drums. They formed in 1984 but only made 5 albums up until now (although they have put out quite a number of singles and EPs) and the last output was a compilation 8 years ago. They perform a mix of death metal, punk, thrash, deathcore and children’s nursery rhymes! The songs seem fairly accurate telling the true stories but are done in a childish way at times. In a sense, it is a metal version of things like “Ring A Ring O Roses” where the rhymes sound playful but are actually very dark (in “Roses” case it is historically seen as about the great plague).
The songs are pretty short (that punk hardcore thing) with over half being between 2 and 3 minutes long. If you don’t like a particular song you don’t have to wait long for the next. There are a couple of tracks that are filler, little musical interludes, 2 of them different short guitar pieces (one light and one squealing), those being “Abduction” and “Breaking Point“. The opening piece is carnival music, the piece is simply called “Intro” and the album actually finishes with that too as the second part of the last song called “The Murder Mack“.
Into The Meat Of The Songs:
The first song proper is “Your Window Is Open” based on the killer known as The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. Musically there are elements of both Faith No More and Dog Fashion Disco especially on the section where he sings about how they “cannot escape“. Like a good number of songs, it switches from extreme metal to a melodic and rather infectious chorus. “Joe Ball Was His Name” is very theatrical, sort of a mix of Broadway and old-time music hall. It is very much a fun listen for a song about a man who fed his victims to alligators he kept in his pond (yes he was that sick) as he thought if there was no bodies found he couldn’t be convicted!
Speaking of childish the song about John Wayne Gacy could easily have be a kids song with a chorus that matches the title “Stinky“. You could easily imagine a group of kids chanting it at some poor bugger in the playground at primary school. The pre-chorus inviting folks to a “barbeque at John Gacy’s house” is a hoot as well.
A couple of tracks hint more towards Black Sabbath and the doom genre. For instance “Tea Cakes” has a Sabbath vibe but with crazier vocals. The playful and inviting way he sings the words “would you like your fortune read be me?” whilst at the same time managing to convey the madness and danger in so doing is great fun. The sections about making people into soap cakes are harsher in style especially vocally. For those who want to know more check out the story of Italian serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli who did her murdering back in the 1940s. “Slaughter House” is another doom-ladened track but with some excellent drum fills and utilizes some nice variance of vocal styles especially around the chorus. There is a vibe of “Alice In Hell”/”Fun Palace” Annihilator on this.
2 tracks actually use well-known nursery rhymes on them, albeit slightly altered and twisted. “Them Dry Bones” and “The Wheels on The Bug” deal with H.H Holmes and Ted Bundy respectively. The first killer was from the 1860s and may have killed upwards of 200 people, some ended up in a cement mixer and others were sold to medical centres ala Burke and Hare, so lending itself to the bones song (“you can buy bones from Dr. Holmes door“). The latter of course deals with Bundy who used a Volkswagon Beetle to pick up his victim (hence the word “bug” in place of “bus”). It is quite punky thrash with playground song included.
Definitely “All Killer” Here, Final Thoughts:
I won’t go through every song as you probably get the idea already. If you like a mix of punk, thrash, death metal, playground songs, musical theatre and are interested in learning more about some of the worst killers/murderers this world has known then this the album for you. I must admit there were a few killers I was less acquainted with so I did spend time online learning more about them. Personally I rather enjoy music/words that get me reading up on subjects so this was up my street.
Is it sick or wrong to make capital out of misery? Difficult to answer. Some could be repulsed by the subject matter, or in the way they use playful music for such sordid stories, but yet hasn’t that been done for centuries? Many of the greatest children’s stories are horrific when analyzed. On top of that if film and TV makers can write and make money from these horror stories then why shouldn’t musicians? For me, it was entertaining (I said earlier it was a “fun listen”) and actually pretty educational. A win-win in my personal opinion. Oh and the cover by Laz Gein is brilliant as well. A take on the “where’s Waldo/Wally” but with serial killers. I liked it!
Album out Friday 13 November on Nuclear Blast Records