Carnivore

Carnivore

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Carnivore's thrash-centric first album was the general public's first introduction to larger-than-life vocalist/bassist Pete Steele, and even though Type O Negative's epic brand of gothic metal was still just a glimmer in his eye, in retrospect one can already recognize the fascinating range of creative contradictions that would always characterize the 6'7" man-mountain's work. On Carnivore, Petrus Steele (as he was then calling himself), guitarist Keith Alexander, and drummer Louie Beateaux generally focused their energies on incredibly brutal and intentionally raw full-on thrash-outs like "Predator," "Carnivore," and "Legion of Doom"; plus they wore the Mad Max apocalyptic caveman attire on the album's rear sleeve to back it up! Yet there were also a few wholly unexpected stylistic departures within tracks like "Armageddon" (featuring ice pick synthesizer stabs), "God Is Dead" (with its bafflingly mix of falsetto vocals and Latin-flavored bongo breakdowns), and, most prophetic for Type O Negative fans, the delicately melodic and romantic midsection inserted into the otherwise unapologetically chauvinistic "Male Supremacy." Talk about contradictions, indeed. Also worth noting is that all of the above -- conventional thrashers and idiosyncratic eccentricities alike -- combined to narrate a larger concept that imagined the three musicians as barbaric, post-apocalyptic "Nuclear Warriors" preying upon helpless, un-mutated human survivors -- nice! Most importantly, though, as clich├ęd and overused as the WWIII concept may have been among '80s metal bands (let's face it, everyone was doing it), Carnivore's rare ability to tread a gray-area between straight-faced and self-amused delivery, helped distinguish the Brooklyn bunch from their peers right from the start. And that is why this debut still stands out of the untold masses of thrash metal released during the decade. [Roadrunner reissued Carnivore on CD in 2001, adding three noticeably hardcore-infused 1986 demos for tracks that would emerge on their sophomore LP, Retaliation, the following year.]

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