Carnival of Killers

Macabre has remained one of the most original and one of my favorite death metal bands for many years now.  Their second album, Sinister Slaughter, had been out for a short time and when I was with Internal Bleeding and touring in the 90’s I bought the cassette at one of the shows and let’s just say we listened to that quite a lot of times in the touring van.  I know the album from front to back and it remains my top Macabre album.  The band has been around for over 30+ years and have quite an eclectic discography, such as the Morbid Campfire Songs ep released in 2002, another personal favorite of mine.

For those that are unaware Macabre sings about serial killers and some of the songs will have a sing songy rhyming quality to them, with some homages to various jingles such as commercials or nursery rhymes.  The band mix in serious songs along with some of the tongue-in-cheek ones.  They are so serious about their interest in true-crime serial/spree killers that they sat in on Jeffrey Dahmer’s court trial and that eventually culminated with the amazing Dahmer album in 2000.  Part of the reason I am a huge Macabre fan is I am a huge true crime buff and even met one of the original FBI Profilers, Robert Ressler, in Maryland many years ago at a convention and I spoke with him and he signed his book for me.  The 3-piece band have remained intact for the duration of the bands existence and after seeing the band live several times and owning their discography, I can firmly attest they are some of the finest and unique musicians around.

Carnival of Killers is 16 songs about various serial/spree killers and I feel is their strongest album since Dahmer.  The album cover sporting a very clever Where’s Waldo collage of the killers Macabre sings about on this album, which is one of the best for 2020.  “Joe Ball Was His Name” may very be my favorite song for 2020.  The song focuses on a real loser named Joe Ball who killed waitresses and dumped them in a ravine where the alligators would feast on the remains.  He would eventually go on to commit suicide by a self-inflicted gun- shot wound to the head, when he was about to be apprehended.  The song has a jumpy and fun quality to it with excellent guitar riffing.  The chorus is what does it for me.  “Joe Ball Was His Name what he did to waitresses was quite a shame.. Joe Ball Was His Name…what he did to waitresses was quite insane…”  The cadence of the vocal phrasing, as well as the music, just comes together perfectly and no joke I have probably listened to this song 100x.

“Stinky” is up next and centers around John Wayne Gacy.  A very heavy and jumpy number and then more of Macabre’s genius with the slow down and boyyyyyy it’s a scorcher.  The song goes into the slinky old school commercial jingle.  Remember…It’s slinky, it’s slinky, a joy a wonderful walks down stairs…are you all with me??  Well then replace the word slinky with stinky and add in lyrics about Gacy’s house of horror stench and how he killed young males and the song is beyond catchy.  I have probably listened to this 100x as well.

“Them Dry Bones” incorporates the jingle of your hip bone is connected to your leg bone, etc.. about H.H. Holmes who was convicted of killing 27 people but he estimated he killed over 200 and may very well have.  The song explains in graphic, but fun detail, him taking apart the limbs and reconnecting them.  He was also a voyeur too and would pose the dead females, pieced together, and take pictures of them.  “The Wheels on the Bug” brings in more brutality and incorporates some blast beats as Macabre gets into the nitty gritty of Ted Bundy and incorporate the wheels on the bus theme and this is also a very strong contender as one of the best songs on Carnival of Killers.

The production is excellent and the sound and song structures really harken back to Sinister Slaughter/Dahmer era and maybe that is why I feel this is one of Macabre’s best works of art. I call it a work of art, because Macabre do not release an album every 2 years, there’s many years between album and that’s due to their intense research and the song structures they write.  Carnival of Killers is only their sixth album, by the way, so chew on that. As I previously mentioned the album cover is pure genius and the music from more of the fun, nursery rhyme parts to the more brutal songs on the album is played with such deliberate, fun and amazing conviction, that this is an absolute must own for 2020.  Buy or Die!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
November 30th, 2020


  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    I love this album! It might sneak onto my list. I’m a fan of all the songs you mentioned, but “Richard Speck Grew Big Breasts” gets me every time.

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