Greetings and felicitations, children of technology. Welcome to the post-apocalyptic world of Carnivore. Few bands are hardy enough to survive thermonuclear destruction but, led by the imposing Petrus T. Steele, this trio of New Yorkers had what it takes to survive World War III (and IV.)
Along with Keith Alexander on guitar and Louis Beateaux on drums, Petrus and Carnivore unleashed their S/T debut album in 1985. It’s a raunchy and primitive mix of Punk and Metal with a hefty dose of Doom and Steele’s beefy vocals. Although the style is crude the performance is tight with live energy and just enough production effects to sound suitably futuristic. Predator kicks the proceedings off and sets the scene of life beneath the rrrrruined city. Male Supremacy has a dirty Crüe-style opening riff and unforgettable chorus. Armageddon has rampaging Crossover Thrash velocity and another golden chorus hook. There are also playful, musical detours: God is Dead’s chorus is mellow bongo-driven weirdness and Male Supremacy culminates in romantic balladry as Petrus returns home to his woman after a hard day’s war.
The second side dips a little compared to the stronger first half but is saved by the more remarkable Doom sections (the “Crush Kill Destroy” section of Thermonuclear Warrior for example) and the rollicking, propulsive World Wars III and IV which ends the album on a high. Lyrically, Carnivore stick to what they know: the life and philosophy of post-apocalyptic, cannibal barbarians hunting for unsuspecting victims to chow down on. It’s something we can all relate to. The whole album is right up my Venom-loving street: filthy and rowdy with the hyper-masculinity of Manowar and a pre-GWAR sense of fun and mythology that wisely stops short of out-and-out comedy.
Petrus T. Steele would later change his name to Peter Steele and go on to great success in his next band Type O Negative. There is very little of Type O’s seductive, swooning October Rust style here but there are plenty of other similarities: the Hardcore elements of Type O’s debut Slow, Deep and Hard and later tracks like Kill All the White People. The shock-tactic humour, bass-heavy Doom riffs and songwriting chops are also heavily indicative of Steele’s future musical direction. Despite their talent for post-nuclear survival Carnivore only lasted for one more album before calling it a day but their music has proved more resilient. Carnivore is full of choice, prime cuts. Bon Appetit.
HMO Rating: 4 out of 5