Album review: Nothing More – Carnal

Texas quartet Nothing More confront frontman Jonny Hawkins’ demons with more gusto than ever before, with some help from their friends…

Album review: Nothing More – Carnal
Mischa Pearlman

As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Or as the late literary icon Samuel Beckett put it: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." It’s a powerful sentiment, and one that Nothing More have taken to heart ever since forming in San Antonio, Texas in 2003. For the first decade or so of their existence, the hard rock four-piece struggled to make their mark on an oversaturated scene, but they didn’t give up. On 2009’s third album, The Few Not Fleeting, drummer Jonny Hawkins took over as the band’s lead vocalist. Its follow-up, like the three albums before it, was self-released. But then the band got the breakthrough they had been striving for for so long and the album got a wider release the next year via Eleven Seven Music.

That label has been the band’s home ever since – albeit under the name Better Noise – and Carnal is Nothing More’s third album since that pivotal breakthrough (and seventh in total). Yet while things have been looking up in terms of success, the band’s inspiration have always remained the less positive aspects of life, whether that’s Jonny’s personal struggles – namely his mother’s death from cancer, as well as the end of a five-year relationship – or more universal (if largely American) issues such as religion, gun control and the detrimental effects of capitalism. Much of that stuff remains at play on this album.

Consisting of 10 actual songs and five sample-laden interludes, Carnal focuses on those same topics while ramping up the rock-pop sensibilities to the max on the likes of Existential Dread and Down The River, two sing-along-able, potential arena-filling songs that have choruses that truly explode.

It’s not all easy(ish) listening, though. House On Sand features I Prevail’s Eric Vanlerberghe, almost sounds like a discarded FEVER 333 track, while Angel Song features a ton of crunchy riffs, a cameo from Disturbed singer David Draiman, which lends a presumably unwanted significance to the lyric 'Light up the sky for all to see' in light of his recent signing of a missile. Still, Freefall and Stuck, which features Atlanta rapper Sinizter spitting some verses, and the ominous tones of last song proper Run For Your Life demonstrate the importance of persistence. Because while these songs might not change the world, they’ll likely help change someone’s life. What more could you ask?

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: I Prevail, Five Finger Death Punch, Bring Me The Horizon

Carnal is out now on Better Noise

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