Review: Mangled Carpenter - Under The Shadow

Hezekiah Rose
Hezekiah Rose   Follow

Band: Mangled Carpenter

Album: Under The Shadow

Record Label: Hagah Recordings

Release Date: May 7, 2021

Length: 23 Minutes

Genres: Deathgrind

Track List:

  1. The Summoning 2:08
  2. Clawing the Ark 2:18
  3. Lost and Found 1:48
  4. The Hanging of Judas 2:06
  5. Under the Shadow 1:58
  6. Fish Vomit 2:21
  7. Slices 2:32
  8. Bone Tomahawk 1:53
  9. Extract the Ghosts 2:13
  10. Valley of Dry Bones 2:32
  11. Fear and Trembling 1:31

Formed in 1992 by Seth Metoyer and Kristeffor Olson during their senior year of high school, Mangled Carpenter didn't record their first demo until 2005. A few singles followed, with an EP released in 2019. Under the Shadow is their first full length release. At 23 minutes the album sounds a little short on paper, but suits the hard and fast delivery of deathgrind that is Mangled Carpenter.

Lyrically, given the track listing, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the album explores some fairly dark themes. To a certain extent, you'd be correct; the album focuses heavily on biblical themes, spanning both the old and new testament. Each track is accompanied by a bible passage identifying the origin of the inspiration for the song. Interestingly, the lyrics are often stripped back versions of the Biblical passage, revealing the often brutal undertones. Take for example the first verse of Fish Vomit [a take on Jonah]: "Angry Prophet/God's decree/Violation/Flee to the sea". Again, looking short on paper, but perfectly suited to the style that Mangled Carpenter hammers home.

Sonically, the band is earthy, raw, brutal death with the speed of grind. Mangled Carpenter identifies on their Spotify page that their sound is for fans of Broken Flesh, Abated of Mass of Flesh, Cannibal Corpse, and Antidemon among others. The band identifies influences such as Vengeance Rising and 90s Mortification. Personally I hear the sounds of Sepultura at their peak, and early Soulfly in this album. The speed of the drums sets the pace right from the start, with the cymbals providing melodic elements. Extract the Ghosts gives our ears pause, although the soft opening soon breaks through the false sense of security with distorted melodic guitar reminiscent of early Underoath. Fish Vomit brings through some clean vocals and the influence of Living Sacrifice is pretty clear. The Hanging of Judas opening with an almost punk feeling before Lost and Found brings home the breakdowns; multiple voices present in both clean and guttural stylings. Slices took me by surprise with the use of negative space/silence, but was extremely effective in highlighting the heavier tones. Under the Shadow, the album's titular track, again brings forth the breakdowns, albeit in a softer manner that foreshadows the slower end existent in Valley of Dry Bones.

Overall, I didn't expect to enjoy the album as much as I did. I'm not a fan of grind (although this album just may just have convinced me otherwise!), although I think the album is well done and drives home biblical concepts in a manner that highlights the core undertones of the message without compromising for the purpose of poetic licence. Perfect for fans of death metal looking for something to spice up their gym playlist to increase the intensity of their reps. Or great for a playlist when you feel the need to hype up.

Rating: 8/10

Favorite Tracks: Fish Vomit for the variation in the delivery of the vocals and early 90s sound, Under the Shadow for the mix of breakdowns and speed.

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