Carnage by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis album review by Katie Tymchenko for northern transmissions



Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Nick Cave and longtime collaborator Warren Ellis have released their first non-soundtrack full length album together as a duo. The new album Carnage is just the latest endeavour from the 20+ year partnership and was surprisingly dropped digitally on Friday with physical versions coming May 28th. Cave described the album as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe” – and a beautiful catastrophe it is.

The album in its entirety is a journey that begins with “Hand of God.” It’s here where Cave and Ellis set forth a dystopian narrative that accurately addresses the fears and anxiety felt throughout the world over the past eleven months. Cave’s lyrics are understandably dark as he yearns for brighter days ahead but appears to see none in sight. If his vocals weren’t already uncomfortable enough, the coinciding music on the track increases that feeling with its eerie and supernatural aesthetic.

On “Old Time” and “Carnage” the pair continues to pave an alarming path forward. “Old Time” address memories of previous travel and exploration that can no longer take place, and “Carnage” mirrors a similar storyline that acknowledges the dwindling hopes and dreams of society today.

White supremacy and police brutality are at the forefront of “White Elephant,” that showcases Cave’s dark and poetic approach to songwriting. Lyrically the song is grim and unpleasant but necessary in order to convey the obvious and hard truths about racism. The music follows suit by keeping on a deep and steady pace in order to allow for Cave’s lyrics to be front and centre. The track’s heavy electronic sound dominates until a sonic shift in narrative comes halfway through the song. The change is a turning point on the album that now begins to deliver a twisted but optimistic message of hope and positivity.

Despite Cave continuing with a somber approach to his lyrics, the remainder of the album has an uplifting spirt to it. Ellis’ compositions are rhythmically beautiful and melodic, and pair well with Cave’s newfound warmth in his voice.

In its entirety, the album sonically represents the pendulum of emotions felt over the past year. Ellis and Cave prove their creative relationship is stronger than ever and use the last four songs to depict the hardships of the pandemic through beauty and refinement.

To many, the thought of another lockdown album is overwhelming and overdone at this point. But by listening to “Balcony Man” it’s clear “what doesn’t kill you just makes you crazier,” and that’s okay too.

order Carnage by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis HERE


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