In a couple of weeks, Carbellion will release Weapons of Choice on Eclipse Records. The album was produced by Chris Djuricic (Nonpoint, Soil, Novembers Doom) and mastered by Andy VanDette (Beastie Boys, Porcupine Tree, Rush).
Amplify the Noise got a sneak peak of the album and have been rocking out to it since it slid into our inbox and I think we’re ready to give our Track by Track thoughts. I say ready because in order to give our thoughts, we have to stop listening to the album first.
In 2004, the members of Carbellion, Brandon Bauer (guitar), Cameron Kellenberger (vocals), Brent Nimz (drums), Jamie Damrow (lead guitar), and Steve Sheppard (bass guitar) decided to join forces to combine elements of grunge and thrash with rock to bring in your face anthems of existences lived on the outer rim of humanity.
Cameron says this of the band,
We always tell people we make rock music, but that always leads to more questions. It’s not exactly metal, but it’s not radio rock. We tune down, and we have an edgier sound, but my vocals are mostly clean. It’s nothing like what you heard in the 80s or 90s, and there’s not a lot like us around today. We appreciate comparisons, but we pride ourselves on being original.
As I wrote before, Carbellion does have a unique sound to them, but that blending of familiar genres also creates a sound that is familiar and comforting.
“Barfight”, the lead track on Weapons of Choice is a wonderful in your face anthem. It’s a song that makes you push the pedal to the metal and pressures you to redline the engine. It inspires you to push your boundaries while it pushes its very own.
Without a doubt “Barfight” takes one back to the 80’s or early 90’s where rock and metal had loud drums and even louder guitars. The guitars wail, the bass booms, the drums thunder, and the vocals soar. It’s a big, bold, and thunderous song and a brilliant way to kick off the album.
The bass in “Listen for Ghosts” is my jam. The song fills a spot in my heart that misses when rock music was rock music. Nothing fancy needed but a heavy bass, slick guitars, and a drum beat that can be felt in the dead centre of the chest.
And that is what “Listen for Ghosts” gives me. Cameron’s vocals still gives me early Maynard James Keenan vibes when I feel MJK was a more tortured and angrier soul than he appears to be now.
Cameron says of the song,
I feel the song really questions where music has been going for a while now. Less and less kids are coming up playing instruments, being in bands, and cutting loose through the raw energy of rock n’ roll. It’s become more about sampling/programming music through easy-to-use interfaces, introversion of one’s self vs. a band, and a lack of trying to get a message across to others. There is a place in music and the artistry for that but not as a total replacement of the former.
An ode S.E. Hinton’s novel, The Outsider, “Pity the Backseat” is heavy, fast, and furious. Carbellion creates wonderful driving rhythms and this song showcases them beautifully. The chug of the guitars against the beat of the drums are brutally addictive which lends to the overall energy of the song. The lyrics and Cameron’s vocals further add to the intensity of the song, creating heavy rock magic.
Give me the opening all day, every day in “Spaces”. I feel that Carbellion has channelled their energy to create their own “Sad But True” as “Spaces” burns with that same intense and heavy energy as the Metallica hit. The guitars and bass are sweet, sweet, music to my ears. The riffs are heavy, thick, and soul crushing. The drums are massive and Cameron vocally matches them with a depth and heftiness that hasn’t been heard from him on the album thus far.
The title track “Weapons of Choice” might be the musical scene stealer of the album. It does not hesitate at all to ninja kick one right in the face. Kicking off with big drums, rumbling basslines, guitars that cry and caterwaul, and growling vocals “Weapons of Choice” is by far the heaviest in vibe, mood, and music. Listening to the song, you will find yourself head banging and making guitar face. The track is a masterpiece.
The opening to “Preacher” gives me an 80’s metal vibe like that of Iron Maiden. There’s a stickiness to the opening wails of the guitar and pulsating bass and drums, but then the song shifts into a bassy Infectious Grooves vibe, before pivoting to grunge heavy vibes. I love every single vibe of the song and I am in love with the bass in the song. It’s dirty and slick and sticks with me from start to finish. The breakdown of “Preacher” is where the band showcases all of their musical talent. It’s tight and hypnotic and one of my favourite parts of not only the song but the entire album.
Goddamn, “Jungle Song”. I’m not sure if I have the right words for this song. Cameron’s raspy vocals emotes a lost, hopeless, and damned soul and reminds me of how the late Layne Stayley carried his vocals. The bass within the song…christ on a cracker. Steve is absolutely wonderful and brilliant here. The bass is intense and haunting and speaking of haunting, the guitar riff that kicks off the song is like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. It’s expressive and stalking, waiting for the moment to land and draw blood. And that said blood is drawn around 1 minute and 47 seconds when everything collides together like two cars in a crash. The heat of the song rises to a fiery pitch before descending back into a false sense of safety.
Typically any song following a song as intense and perfect as “Jungle Song” is going to fade from the spotlight, but “Origin” fights tooth and nail for its spotlight and it is well earned. Vocally I find bits and pieces of MJK within Cameron’s. There’s also a heavy 90’s grunge vibe with the music that I adore. The combination of vocals and music is what saves “Origin” from falling in the shadows of its predecessor.
There’s something about “Seasons of Failure” that I can’t quite put my finger on. It reminds me of everything and nothing at the same time. The energy of this song is slower than the rest as if it’s slugging its way through muck and mud. I like the slower tempo as it allows the listener to really embed themselves into the song and absorb each and every note.
Closing out Weapons of Choice is “Stalemate”. A track that was recorded live in the studio. It takes me back to Alice in Chains EP, Sap. The song even has an AIC vibe like that of “Put You Down”. “Stalemate” ups the tempo and ends the album on a solid note.
MUST LISTEN TRACKS: “Jungle Song”, “Weapons of Choice”, “Preacher”, “Listen for Ghosts”, “Barfight”
FAVOURITE TRACKS: “Jungle Song” and “Weapons of Choice”
Carbellion proves that rock and roll is not dead and in fact breathes new life into it with Weapons of Choice.
Weapons of Choice is out on March 17 on Eclipse Records, pre-order or pre-save at the album now.