There’s no doubt what Donkerkarnuffel are all about. Cue intro. Circus, laughter, happiness. Slaughter. Carnage. Death. I’ve never been a fan of bands who hide behind an aesthetic, be it makeup, masks or distracting stage costumes, as I find they’re often just disguising weak music… but these guys just happen to be an absolute jackhammer of a band who play the most brutal, powerful metal… and like to have some fun doing it.
With ‘Zombie Clown Apocalypse’ Donkerkarnuffel have managed to take their theme and embed it within the DNA of their music, creating a bizarre mix of metal and hooters that works brilliantly. There’s no style over substance here, this is metal that can’t be hidden behind red noses. From the opener ‘Blood for Donko‘ the road-drill pace is set. Pounding bass weaves with gut-wrenching riffs, and a vocal tone that blends so well it adds a layer of rich instrumentation to the sound rather than sitting on top as a jarring indulgence as so many ‘scream’ bands do these days.
‘Funland’ brings more groove, more heavy, but a more melodic guitar approach which reminds me of what made Carcass so unique. As the album progresses what strikes me is how much groove there is to the structure of the music. Yes, there are blast beats and driving shreds, but the tunes are never bland. Whilst there’s nothing predictable, each tune manages to satisfy me; when I want fast it is, when I want a breakdown it knows… but there’s more than that. With the interjection of their self penned ‘clown core’ elements throughout the album Zombie Clown Apocalypse has a film-soundtrack feel, and it makes it feel big. They’ve created a monster without just filling it with speed and overly dense production. There’s humour, but it does nothing to cheapen the quality of the musicianship and craft of this album. Not many bands are able to nail that balance.
The standout track for me is title track itself. It captures the essence of the band in three minutes of awesomeness. It has the heaviness and personality I love about Donkerkarnuffel, and the triplet kick drums in the chorus reaches the part in my guts that made me fall in love with metal as a kid. With an epic climax like Paradise Lost being raped by Slipknot, this a true classic.
For me these guys are doing something very important in the UK metal scene, and alongside the likes of Morgue Orgy are offering a much needed originality among what has become a very cluttered sub-genre. This band is undeniably built to entertain, but their sound is crafted, original, exciting, and deeply morish.
This band is undeniably built to entertain, but their sound is crafted, original, exciting, and deeply morish.