Certainly we’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and are perpetually tired of hearing it. I upset myself just writing that statement, and now I’m sick. The saying does hold some weight and reminds us not to pre-judge, but sometimes you actually can see something and make a fairly accurate decision about what’s contained inside.
Take, for example, the cover and title of Texas duo Cara Neir’s tumultuous new record. It’s called “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition,” and the cover depicts a black-and-white drawing of a funeral hearse pulled up to the front of a church. You shouldn’t be expecting reflective, atmospheric, lovely music and instead should prepare for a burial. An extension of sorts philosophically from their explosive last record “Portals to a Better, Dead World,” the band takes on what it’s like to be a living, breathing, suffering human. There are things holding us back, forces that mean us harm, and disappointment that becomes as much a part of us as the lighter elements. Along with this, Cara Neir twist in sections that deal with social class imbalance and morality, showing how even in the brightest of times, we can be yanked back by conflict.
Based in Dallas, Cara Neir got started in 2008, as vocalist/lyricist Chris Francis and guitarist/bassist/drum programmer/backing vocalist Garry Brents combined forces and mentalities into a heavy music world that needed more punishing acts like them. Their debut “Part I/Part II” was released a year after their formation, with “Stagnant Perceptions” landing two years after that. Aforementioned “Portals” arrived in 2013, with their fourth full-length being “Perpetual.” That’s not to ignore all of the smaller and split releases they’ve released over their eight years. On “Perpetual,” the band melts black metal, punk, hardcore, noise, and classic screamo into a molten pot, and does it ever scorch. The eight songs blaze by, shaking your insides and spreading darkness all over. Along with Francis and Brents come notable contributors such as Jon Rosenthal (Venowl), Val (Ævangelist, Vlk, Venowl), Drew W.B. (Lonesummer, Moros), Andy Curtis-Brignell (Caïna), and Chelsea Anderson smear their own morbidity into the mix.
The record begins with “Spiteful Universe,” as Nietzsche lines are spoken over dissonance before the shit hits the fucking fan. Crazed vocals and a speedy assault combine to practically make you black out, and as things go on, they just get more unhinged. Later, atmospheric calm squeezes in, helping you imagine serene cloudy blue skies before a muscular riff takes over and wild howls bring the song to an end. “Normalcy” has off-kilter guitar work and vocals that veer toward death metal. Sounds swirl in the air while the playing dizzies, and after a brief comedown, the drums go off, and the track stampedes all over again. “Something’s wrong!” Francis screams as the arrival of newfound danger sends chills. “Pushing Failure” is jerky and unpredictable, with the drums smearing and the shrieks chewing glass. Later, a drift of humidity fills the air while pianos drip blood. “Bound by Believers” has some great melodic guitar work, as the lines loop through the mire. The track is catchy and terrifying, with panic launching an outbreak and death-laced punishment adding bruises.
“Window to the Void” has tricky, loopy guitar work that defies logic, while the pace is outright spastic, like a prisoner clawing and throwing his body toward anything just for some relief. The track is abrasive and punk fueled, blasting away over its entire run time. “Trials of the Lost” pounds away relentlessly, with riffs chugging and spiraling all over the place, and later some doomy storming arrives and brings the blackness. Organs add a dose of fear, while the back end is awash in black punk and heavy thrashing. “For You” unleashes feral howls and speedy aggression, with death gasps behind the madness and later some gazey guitar sprinkling. The tempo then begins drilling at your temples, while the track dissolves into murky muck. Closer “Chapter I: Coastline Black” throws some wrenches into the fun, coming off like a dark horror story, which is perfect for this season. Raspy growls push the plasma-spewing agenda, while the guys hit the gas pedal, galloping away and grinding teeth. Noiry guitars spill in, adding an interesting texture, but then it’s into throttling throats, bringing a creaky, spooky ambiance, and turning everything in front of them into dust and pain.
Cara Neir continue to add violently interesting, explosively morose chaos into the world, and “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition” is another unhinged chapter in their exposure of humanity’s darkest elements. Each inch of this album tears away at your skin and creates a collection of little blood tributaries that build up and make their mark. This band makes you confront the worst parts of humanity and existence and refuse to let you look away.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/caraneir/
To buy the album, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/collections/all
For more on the label, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/