Friday, January 4, 2013


Carcass - Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel EP
Nuclear Blast, 2014
Genre: Death Metal

1. A Wraith in the Apparatus
2. Intensive Battery Brooding
3. Zochrot
4. Livestock Marketplace
5. 1985 (Reprise)

I liked "Surgical Steel" enough to immediately pick this up when I was at the store. This isn't anything new for Carcass, putting together an EP the year after a full-length. Here Carcass offers up five unreleased songs, I assume from the "Surgical Steel" recording session. In many ways the songs are weaker than what made the cut for the album, but if you truly enjoyed "Surgical Steel", I don't see why you wouldn't enjoy these songs to some degree. "Livestock Marketplace" is probably the worst song on the album. And I'm glad it never made the cut for the full-length. It has a much more "popular" sound to it, amidst what is being written for the popular groups these days. There's always some driving need "wait, we need a clean sung chorus here", is that how you get radio play now? Either way, it's a stupid idea. It feels forced, especially, with the backdrop of Carcass. Either way, the EP has enough decent songs to make it sort of worth listening if you're into the EP thing, but I wouldn't consider this a must have. You just have to be careful, since the packaging of the EP is so similar to the full-length. Not sure why they used the same cover, but brighter, seems like a bad move.

Carcass - Surgical Steel
Nuclear Blast, 2013
Genre: Death Metal

1. 1985
2. Thrasher's Abattoir
3. Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
4. A Congealed Clot of Blood
5. The Master Butcher's Apron
6. Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
7. The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
8. Unfit for Human Consumption
9. 316L Grade Surgical Steel
10. Captive Bolt Pistol
11. Mount of Execution
12. Intensive Battery Brooding

It seems Ken Own's assessment of Carcass was wrong. In about 2007 the band started playing shows again, and at that point everyone wondered if a new album was on the horizon. Carcass didn't seem to have the fortitude Emperor do for only playing shows and have eventually put together a new album. I actually managed to catch them on tour during this time frame, and they were quite good, except Jeff's vocals were way too loud and kind of drowned out a lot of the musical experience. A real shame, since I was sitting behind the sound board, so I shouldn't have had an issue like this at all.

I bought this CD as soon as I saw it on the shelf at my local record store. And yes I did buy a physical copy as the band thanks those who did in the booklet. It's somewhat unfortunate, because I think they went a little overboard with physical copies of this release. Granted the booklet and layout are actually really well done and I'm glad they put a lot of effort into designing a great package for us. According to Discogs, there are already 36 versions of this release. It has not been that long and no re-pressings have happened... Nuclear Blast just went bonkers and made too many different colored vinyl pressings. Seems they're taking the comeback of vinyl a bit too favorably. I don't know who asked for this, the band or if the label decided it, but this capitalizing on collectors with a million different versions is not what buying physical copies should be about. As a long time collector of physical music for the past twenty plus years, it's kind of offensive to see things go in this direction. It's just a shame it had to happen on Carcass' comeback. Either way, I bought my single physical copy and I'm not going to buy another version. I see pictures of people's Carcass collection with all possible versions, and the label can say that it wasn't their intention, but that's the end result. If you're ignorant of that, you're confused about your audience and industry.

Collector's rant done. I always approach these re-formation releases with a bit of trepidation. The fact that the original Carcass logo shows up at the top put me in a specific state of mind when buying the album. It also built a specific expectation of what this should sound like. Did I think it would sound like the old raw days? No, of course not. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a recording studio with that type of gear anymore, and unless Carcass built their own studio out of salvaged analog gear from the 80's, they're obviously recording on modern equipment. So, there's a degree of polished sound I expect from music today, especially from major label acts. If you thought Carcass would return to the days of "Reek of Putrefaction", you'll sorely be disappointed. I assumed we wouldn't be hearing much of "Swansong" due to the titles and logo and I was sort of right. I, kind of, took back some of that assumption when hearing "1985". The intro doesn't seem to work for the song it goes into, but that's about it. The album kicks off with the quite Thrash oriented "Thrasher's Abattoir", which Ken Owen referenced as a very old title and song. I'm sure it's been updated compared to the old days. From that point on the album is pretty decent. They have a much older style than I was expecting when I heard the band returned. The style they go after is sort of a blending of "Heartwork" and "Necroticism". Some of the progressive flair of "Swansong" shows up every now and again, but the album stays quite rooted in the "Heartwork" style. Naturally, Ken is not performing on the drums and they've had to fill his seat (not really that possible) with Dan Wilding behind the kit, who has played in a number of metal bands. None of which I've listened to though. I don't think Carcass were intending to break new ground with their return, "Unfit for Human Consumption" starts with a riff that sounds almost exactly like another off the "Heartwork" album.

I think this return is more to revel in a sound that Carcass helped build, but has sort of deviated and changed since the days of "Heartwork". In this regard, I think the release is quite successful. It's an enjoyable album if you want a more polished "Heartwork". Despite Owen's comment on "Choice Cuts" about the guys slowing down, that certainly isn't really the case, because they can certainly keep up with their old material. For what it's worth, I enjoyed the album. I don't think it's better than their prior material, but its a promising return and I am glad to see Carcass active in the scene again.

Carcass - Choice Cuts
Earache Records, 2004
Genre: Death Metal

1. Genital Grinder
2. Maggot Colony
3. Exhume to Consume
4. Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency
5. Tools of the Trade
6. Corporal Jigsore Quandry
7. Incarnated Solvent Abuse
8. Buried Dreams
9. No Love Lost
10. Heartwork
11. Keep on Rotting in the Free World
12. R**k the Vote
13. This is Your Life
Peel Sessions 02.01.89:
14. Crepitating Bowel Erosion
15. Slash Dementia
16. Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites
17. Reek of Putrefaction
Peel Sessions 16.12.90:
18. Empathological Necroticism
19. Foeticide
20. Fermenting Innards
21. Exhume to Consume

I'm actually surprised it took this long to get a sort of "Best of..." album out of Earache. Sure there was a 2CD compilation, that I never got, back in '97, but I don't think that got the distribution levels Earache can muster. Here we finally have "Choice Cuts", which features over an hour of Carcass music spanning their entire music career. A lot has happened to Carcass since the demise in 1996. Bill, Ken, and Carlo moved onto their more prog oriented project Black Star (probably taken from the Carcass song) and recorded two albums under that name. I never got them, but I think I heard samples over a friends house and knew it wasn't really my style. Since, the demise of that project as well, we didn't really hear much from the Carcass members.

If you have the full Carcass catalog, this won't give you much. It does feature the two Peel Session recordings from the early days, so if you missed out on that, which is likely, they do give these old rarities to us. I think it was setup this way so that there would at least be some unheard material, which is something I can appreciate. I have one of the "Peel Session" releases, but I didn't have the second. Other than that they did an excellent job compiling the tracks and I think it gives a good scope of the Carcass career. Here we can see how staggering their music changed and evolved over the years. In many ways this is similar to the "Wake Up and Smell the... Carcass" release, but this is about compiling Carcass' studio career rather than rarities. Also, it's been long enough that new fans to extreme metal may not have as much access to the catalog as six years ago.

The real gem with this is the long interview with Ken Owen throughout the entire booklet. He recounts Carcass' career going all the way back to Bill and him being schoolmates. It's a really great interview. After Black Star the metal community was shocked to hear Ken Owen had suffered a brain aneurysm. I didn't really know the circumstances at the time, but I know it shook the metal community in my area to hear about it. He was in coma for about a year or so, which is a shocking thing to undergo and I can't even imagine it. He recounts the ultimatum he was given: "I was told that unless I had surgery to remove it I was likely to have another hemorrhage and die. So, in March 2000 I underwent surgery which has been completely successful, but it left me very ill, unable to walk, and it affected my memory very badly for a long time." I really didn't understand the scope of what he was dealing with, but that is an incredible thing to go through and its wonderful to see that he is back to almost normal function as of the interview.

The real major question got dropped at the end: "Finally, will there ever be a Carcass reunion?", to which Ken responded "I don't think so." So, by this point, there seems to be a clear answer. I think there's a question if Ken would ever be able to fully play drums again, but hopefully that will change as time goes on. This is a great release to celebrate an influential bands career.

Carcass - Wake Up and Smell the... Carcass
Earache Records, 1996
Genre: Death Metal

1. Edge of Darkness
2. Emotional Flatline
3. Ever Increasing Circles
4. Blood Spattered Banner
5. I Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck)
6. Buried Dreams
7. No Love Lost
8. Rot 'n' Roll
9. Edge of Darkness
10. This is Your Life
11. Rot 'n' Roll
12. Tools of the Trade
13. Pyosisified (Still Rotten to the Gore)
14. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II
15. Genital Grinder II
16. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation
17. Exhume to Consume

Here's a strange release from Carcass. It seems what might have been an EP at first, has turned into a sort of odds and ends collection of Carcass material. Starting off from the unreleased material from the "Swansong" recording sessions, which could have easily served as an EP, gives the compilation a very modern start. I actually quite enjoyed some of these songs, for some reason enjoying "Blood Spattered Banner" as one of my favorites. It's kind of impressive to think about how much music they recorded during that session.

After the material from "Swansong" the compilation wends its way through Carcass' career and serves to release a lot of material that has either been unreleased, or was released, but is now hard to find. For example, this features the entire "Tools of the Trade" EP, which has become quite scarce over the years. It also features the hard to find tracks from "The Heartwork" EP. This album does take a sort of repetitive form from tracks 6 to 11, because tracks 6 through 9 are a radio show recording which repeated a few tracks. Due to this repetition I question the point of their inclusion, despite the fact that they are very clearly different recordings. I think the release would have felt a lot better if it was just a collection of these now rare EP's. Still this release gives us over an hours worth of Carcass' music, so I suppose I really shouldn't be one to complain about it.

One of the more interesting aspects of this release is how it brings us through Carcass' career. I do appreciate the organization in this sense, because we get to hear where Carcass ended their career and work our way backwards towards the beginning. The stark difference between beginning and end is rather staggering when heard in this light. It really gives a greater sense of appreciation for what Carcass has done for the extreme Metal genre over the years as they transitioned from unrelenting extremity towards a more progressive and accessible approach. This makes the song "I Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck)" a lot more comical.

In the end if you've missed out on the early Carcass material, especially these EPs and actually enjoyed "Swansong" then I would consider this a must have compilation. It wasn't until years later until I bought these EPs, so when I first got this compilation it was my first time hearing these songs. I think at this point Carcass was officially broken up and I will miss them, despite the drastic style change.

Carcass - Swansong
Earache, 1995
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

1. Keep on Rotting in the Free World
2. Tomorrow Belongs to Nobody
3. Black Star
4. Cross My Heart
5. Childs Play
6. Room 101
7. Polarized
8. Generation Hexed
9. Firm Hand
10. R**k the Vote
11. Don't Believe a Word
12. Go to Hell

Based on my enjoyment of "Heartwork", I was excited to see Carcass released a new album, despite the fact I found the cover perplexing, I still purchased this on release day. Hopefully I don't lose too much metal cred for my wildly unpopular interest in this album. I realize in an objective sense this is actually a pretty bad album. It's ridiculously cheesy and sounds more like an attempt to be a more mainstream Rock act than a Death Metal band, but I have no idea what is about this album, I actually liked it and still do. I normally dislike a lot of the prog bullshit that shows up on here, but it works for me here. Perhaps its my love of albums like "Symphony of Destruction" that puts me in a position to enjoy this, for this is the slightly heavier version of Megadeth's "Youthanasia" for the most part.

Now, I wouldn't say this is better than "Heartwork" or even their earlier catalog, but I did enjoy this for what it is... for some reason. Carcass take things deeper into the realms of Prog-Rock, but with a Death Metal edge, which is probably the bare minimum enjoyment level for me. Mike Amott has apparently returned to his homeland and he would surface again later with Arch Enemy. Carcass will probably be the only thing I like from him, to be honest. Since the dual guitar approach worked pretty well with "Heartwork" they bring Carlo Regadas to help with guitars, but I have never heard of him before. The majority of songs are still written by Walker and Steer. Musically, this direction isn't as shocking as it would seem for Carcass based on the way the band had been trending and in the context of "The Heartwork EP". The lyrical direction has taken a drastic shift as well, falling into the realms of politics, societal degeneration, etc. Interestingly, Napalm Death, would sort of tone things down to this level and both bands seem to have revolved around each other for years.

If you've already given up on Carcass, then you aren't missing much, this is just a far more stripped down version of the Death Metal band. The rhythms are pretty catchy and the vocals are more audible than ever. After this Carcass would officially break-up, and that sort goes hand in hand with the album title. I think they realized they were moving off the realms of the extreme metal spectrum. Steer and Owen would move on and form the band Black Star, which is basically an outright Prog band, which makes a lot of sense considering this album. If that's where his art is taking him, then it's best to, at the least, change the name of the project. For what it's worth, I liked it. If you're a fan of Progressive Metal and always wanted a heavier version, "Swansong" might just be what you are looking for.

Carcass - The Heartwork EP
Earache, 1993
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

1. Heartwork
2. This is Your Life
3. Rot 'n' Roll

It seems somewhat pointless to release something like this after the "Heartwork" album, and especially in the same year. However, this does feature two new songs, strangely recorded in a studio session after the actual album.

I'm not sure if these were written in the same time frame, but I can certainly see how these songs would not fit on the "Heartwork" album. So, even if these were recorded in the same studio session, they probably would have never made the cut for the full-length. "This is Your Life" is definitely geared as a far more Rock styled song. There is no real crushing Death Metal approach at all to this song. "Rot 'n' Roll" sounds even more like a heavier version of Megadeth, which, honestly, I found to be rather cool. I don't know if the music on here is a sign of things to come for Carcass, but the fans of the old style are going to like this approach even less.

Carcass - Heartwork
Earache, 1993
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

1. Buried Dreams
2. Carnal Forge
3. No Love Lost
4. Heartwork
5. Embodiment
6. This Mortal Coil
7. Arbeit Macht Fleisch
8. Blind Bleeding the Blind
9. Doctrinal Expletives
10. Death Certificate

If you've been a long time Carcass fan, then this album may disappoint. I think this was also a strange time in the history of Death Metal. Carcass is switching over to a more melodic and progressive style and even Columbia Records is distributing this release. Meanwhile, Sepultura have transitioned to making mostly groove laden metal. Morbid Angel is on a major label. Morgoth are playing a more toned down version of themselves. Soon Napalm Death will follow suit and this era of raging Death Metal seems to shift with a lot of the founders. New bands have arisen to take their place, but there are also bands that remain unchanged like Suffocation, Deicide etc. during this time frame. However, Carcass is one of the "victims" of change, depending on how you want to look at it. This was my first album and I got it back in 1994 or 1995, I can't remember which. So, for me, this is how Carcass started off sounding, I was in my early teens, so delving into the first layers of Death Metal really only yielded the most popular bands being distributed to the local record stores. I outright cherished this CD and, even today, I still hold a special place for it, and  that being the case I may be a little less objective towards this album.

As mentioned, this is a far more melodic Carcass than ever before. It seems the old logo is gone forever now, with just a typed name on the cover, as we saw with "Tools of the Trade". In fact, this album shouldn't be that surprising given the inclusion of a lot of more melodic material on the "Tools of the Trade" EP. To add even more melody into their realm, Carcass turn to Mike Amott from Sweden to take up the second guitar. This really does herald the rise of Melodic Death Metal, with At the Gates and Dark Tranquility already running strong prior to this release, but I think with Carcass building this album it really put things on a far larger stage.

Walker has even changed his vocal approach entirely and it doesn't seem Steer is offering any of his death growls in the background. Walker's main vocal approach is a mid-range snarl, which seems more akin to the Melodic Death Metal scene growing in Sweden. He doesn't seem to have the intense scream element of the Swedish scene, but Walker's vocals really work quite well for what they are performing here. Some may be disappointed in the shift in lyrical direction. Gone are the usual medical journal influenced songs, but now Walker has written a far more thought out songs. I know there are many that enjoyed the original lyrical direction, but I think I can sympathize to a degree, where you can only take that approach on so many albums. If there was a time to change, it was probably around now.

The guitar work is where the most noticeable shifts occur. The guitar leads tend toward the more progressive and at times sort of feels more like a Megadeth song than a Carcass song. There is a lack of general brutality throughout most of the album, but I still find their approach to be quite heavy. They may no longer use the frantic and insane guitar styling of the early albums, but this is still a Death Metal album from beginning to end. Owen's drum work has certainly changed drastically to accommodate the more groove oriented style. Blast beats are very few on this album, but they do show up from time to time. Perhaps this album would have been very different in feel with more intense drumming, but Owen does a pretty excellent job of accenting what the music really needs to make it stand-out in a larger sense.

In the realms of Death Metal, this is probably one of the most accessible albums of the time. It can clearly cater to a wider audience and I think those striving towards the ever more extreme, but not really ready to pick up Suffocation's "Effigy of the Forgotten" will find "Heartwork" a rather pleasant excursion into the realms of Death Metal. I'm sure the die-hards would see such an assessment as a death sentence for a band's career, but everyone has to start somewhere. People rarely suddenly pick up a Vlad Tepes demo and exclaim how good it sounds, no, there is a growth into this genre. People sitting around listening to Metallica and Megadeth and wishing things were just a little heavier can turn to this album. From here they can turn to other more intense forms of the Metal genre. I think "Heartwork" is timeless in this regard, it will probably serve as a go to starting album for people to get into the more extreme ends of the genre and I think that's why it gets lauded as a classic more than anything.

Carcass - Tools of the Trade
Earache, 1992
Genre: Death Metal

1. Tools of the Trade
2. Incarnate Solvent Abuse
3. Rotten to the Gore
4. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II

After the success of "Necroticism" Carcass return to record four songs for this short EP. "Tools of the Trade" is one of the songs that I think gets referenced as one of the finer Carcass outputs and to showcase their Death Metal era.

"Tools of the Trade" also showcases a bit more flair into their guitar work. You can easily tell this is the case with the solo on "Tools of the Trade". This is also where they started including a bit more of Melodic Death Metal element, just listen to the early guitar parts of "Incarnate Solvent Abuse". They really do manage to blend this with the "Necroticism" style quite well. With some of these riffs we see Carcass delve into a catchier foray, but this doesn't detract from their Death Metal at all. In fact, it appears to be similar to how Entombed and Dismember incorporate catchier elements into their music and Carcass seems to merely be responding to that influence. Naturally, we still have some of the standard frantic brutal riffing Carcass are known for, but this EP just has a lot more variety in riffing styles as Carcass experiment and blend a lot of elements together. This is probably the last true Death Metal release Carcass made before doing a massive style overhaul on their next release, so if you're in love with Carcass' early days, this is probably worth hearing.

Carcass - Necroticism - Descanting Insalubrious
Earache, 1991
Genre: Death Metal

1. Inpropagation
2. Corporal Jigsore Quandry
3. Symposium of Sickness
4. Pedigree Butchery
5. Incarnate Solvent Abuse
6. Carneous Cacoffiny
7. Lavaging Expectorate of Lysergide Composition
8. Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article

Now this is the album where Carcass really started to shine in my opinion. This is where they really started to pull off the music I thought they were best known for in the later years, and will always be remembered for. I know they will always be known for their influence in beginning the Grindcore genre with Napalm Death, but in terms of Death Metal influence they'll always be remembered for “Symphonies of Sickness,” but the one they are best remembered for is “Heartwork,” I believe. However, for me “Necroticism” is a close second in quality compared to “Heartwork.”

On this album I think Carcass was still progressing and searching through their sound on what they could add to what they do. For example in the opening track “Inpropogation” they have some little guitar flares that are more progressive sounding than anything. They don’t quite work as well as the band maybe hoped, but that’s because the guitar tone and work is still more reminiscent of “Symphonies of Sickness,” which is really heavy and somewhat harsh sounding to me, especially in terms of guitar tone. So to hear a real smooth guitar lead over it feels somewhat out of place from my perspective. The major improvement I was waiting for Carcass to make in the vocal department came in full swing on this release. They still have lower growls mixed with mid-range at points, but more for accent sections and emphasis, which aren't the whole song. The album mostly favors Jeff Walker’s mid-range vocals, which sound great with this album and the added progressive guitar licks that are thrown in. Not to mention this album overall has lot more melody thrown in than previous works so it just needs to have that mid-range vocal tone to have it sounding quite pristine. Song writing wise they also have groovier guitar rhythms than previous albums, I think, something reminiscent of what you would find on an Entombed album, only more melodic in terms of Carcass. A cool thing I did notice they added into their songs were samples from movies or television in general. I thought that was a pretty interesting thing to throw in to switch up their music. Lyrically they've barely changed at all. I think maybe they’re using less randomized medical terms, so the lyrics actually have words that more than medical doctors use. Maybe they’ll be heading for a lyrical progression in the future; I figure one can only write in this fashion for so long before it becomes rather mundane.

On this re-release of the album they incorporated two movie recordings. The first was “Corporal Jigsore Quandry,” which is a live recording of Carcass, probably around the era this was recorded. It actually doesn't say anywhere on the disc unfortunately, so, ultimately, I don’t know when the live set took place. The live video is actually pretty well recorded, you can hear everything that’s going on and you can see the whole band and everything. They used multiple cameras to record the set, so you get to see plenty of different angles of the band; it’s probably a recording they took for making a VHS of their live concert way back in the early 90’s. The second video on this CD is “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and this is an actual music video rather than a live set. It’s actually pretty well done for an old music video. Carcass didn't try to do anything fancy, but the video is kind of humorous, which is to be expected with any metal video. At least I've come to expect it in all the years of listened to it. There’s always something comical about a bunch of guys trying to look overly bad ass and mean, especially when they’re pretty skinny guys altogether. However, Carcass has the essence of it all, and it’s got some cool camera/computer graphics incorporated into the music video. I found those graphic tweaks to be the most appreciable, since it wasn't just the band playing. It added more to the video visually, though I can’t see what the video had to do with anything lyrically, just as few videos make any sense with the song lyrics anyway.

We have yet another further progression for Carcass on this album and I feel it’s more a step in the right direction because I think Carcass is focusing a lot more on the quality of their music. One thing that is great about Carcass thus far is they haven’t once gotten stuck in a rut and they've looked at different things to do on each release thus far. I definitely highly recommend this release to all fans of Death Metal because you’re guaranteed a quality album as well as a piece of Death Metal history.

Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness
Earache, 1989
Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore

1. Reek of Putrefaction
2. Exhume to Consume
3. Excoriating Abdominal Emanation
4. Ruptured in Purulence
5. Empathological Necroticism
6. Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment
7. Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency
8. Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites
9. Slash Dementia
10. Crepitating Bowel Erosion

This is a major improvement for Carcass in my opinion! This album is pretty much intense Brutal Death Metal. 1989 seems to be the year for fairly Brutal Death Metal acts; this is when things were brought up a notch in intensity. This year we were all graced with Entombed’s debut album “Left Hand Path,” Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness, and Obituary’s “Slowly We Rot” to name a few of the great acts that came about. Prior to this, things still dabbled in Thrash crossovers a bit, and in Carcass’ case they played Grind. 1989 is the year for me that really put Death Metal on the map in a major way because it set the stage and standards for what a lot of bands would have to benchmark themselves against. Carcass was only one of the bands that brought forth some of the most Brutal riffing on an album and they were probably finally outdone by the likes of Suffocation when they released their first album “Effigy of the Forgotten,” which set a whole bench mark on what it means to play Brutal. Unfortunately for this album Carcass focused more on a brutal delivery than on an overall finesse in terms of writing a song, so they don’t stand out as much against the other bands I mentioned above.

As I opened with, this is a much improved Carcass. Carcass seems to have revamped themselves entirely on this release and put forth great effort to write longer songs, which are not only fast and brutal, but also structured and have memorable moments. You can hear the guitars a lot clearer in this recording as well, so they don’t sound nearly as messy as they did on the “Peel Sessions” recordings. Vocally they didn't use the lower more “brutal” vocals and they used the more mid-range Death Metal vocal performance, which I had pointed out was more favorable. That vocal style dominated these recordings more and I think that’s what brought the songs more together as a whole to me. Real low and harsh vocals sound good at times, but they didn't really work with Carcass nearly as much as they do with other bands, as I can easily point out in later Morbid Angel recordings where they enhanced the music even more. Whereas for Carcass’ case the mid-range vocals enhanced their music rather than going lower. They used some low tone vocals here and there on the album, but nothing that really ruins the album for me, so I found them tolerable. Some of the vocals are silly, such as on “Crepitating Bowel Erosion,” at the start of the song and they don’t really fit all that much.

The guitar work overall is great and much more thought out, and the solos go together with the songs much more than they ever did before. They even redid the songs recorded on the “Peel Sessions,” which is most apparent on “Reek of Putrefaction.” They lengthened the song a little and added a more powerful introduction. I think this was a great move for opening their second full length because it really made the listeners aware that they were about to get a whole new Carcass on this release. The song opens with what sounds like power surges then goes into a brutal riff and cymbal choke sequence for a few seconds then keyboards come in. The keyboards add a whole new and strange atmosphere to the whole presentation. They removed the messiness from the guitar arrangements of previous works and played more precisely and I think that added to the brutal nature of the music a lot more in the end.

On a fun fact note, the original cover art for “Symphonies of Sickness” and “Reek of Putrefaction” were pulled and Earache originally forced Carcass to make new covers because the originals were deemed too “offensive.” Well for the latest re-repressing in the new millennium, apparently they were deemed okay to print. The original covers were fairly silly in terms of a cover, with a bunch of dead bodies and pictures of meat thrown all over the cover in a haphazard collage fashion. I’m not entirely sure how this was considered offensive, but then again it was 1989, by now I've seen covers that are far worse. Look at a Waco Jesus cover, for example, I think their goal is to make such covers to sell albums because they’re so outrageous and their music probably isn't good enough to sell anyway. So regardless, “Symphonies of Sickness” in terms of album art is mild by today’s standards and here we get to see it in full with original Carcass logo and all.

If you’re not a fan of Grindcore in the least then I highly recommend your Carcass listening begins with this album. You will be far more pleased with this than anything they did previously. I definitely respect Carcass for what they put forth on this release, but I can’t help but say that the other bands I mentioned earlier on did it better. Such as, I prefer Entombed, Morbid Angel, or Obituary’s recordings to this one to be honest. I don’t pull this out to listen to very much because after this Carcass did bring forth better material in the studio in my opinion. Either way, this is where Carcass started to put forth a good amount of effort in their songwriting and made their tracks much more interesting.

Carcass - The Peel Sessions
Dutch East India Trading, 1989
Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore

1. Crepitating Bowel Erosion
2. Slash Dementia
3. Cadaveric Incubator of Endo Parasites
4. Reek of Putrefaction

1990 CD pressing pictured above.

The Peel Session recordings weren’t done only by Carcass. These took place for John Peel’s radio show and they are probably no longer done considering the age of these recordings. Napalm Death is another big name Death Metal band that took advantage of these recordings through the years, as well as a score of other metal acts not limited to just Death Metal. This particular recording was made on December 13, 1988 and aired on January 2, 1989.

It appears Carcass’ stint with Grindcore was rather short lived. For a band to create a genre then move away from it shortly after is strange to me, but personally I can’t complain about it. They still have hints of Grindy moments in the songs here and there though. These songs have far more song structure and the opening track, “Crepitating Bowel Erosion” clocks in over five minutes, so clearly not the quick blistering recordings of “Reek of Putrefaction.” Carcass seems to be moving in a direction that I will like a lot more, but overall these songs could still be better. They’re decent, but I can’t see myself pulling these out over and over again to listen to. The songs are a bit more structured but they are a bit messy at times such as the opening to “Cadaveric Incubation of Endo Parasites.” The low toned vocals drown out the music quite often too, so a lot of this might be a production related dislike, because this isn’t exactly the most stellar quality. Honestly the low Death Metal vocals on here are kind of silly sounding and they would do well to move away from those altogether in my opinion, but when he uses his mid range vocals, such as during parts in “Slash Dementia” they sound really good. I think if these songs were sung entirely in that mid-range styled Death Metal vocals it would be a lot better because they seem to compliment a lot of the music better.

Either way in the end of it all Carcass are moving away from the prominent Grindcore tone and moving into a more Brutal Death Metal aspect which is much more appealing to me. They should further themselves in the future and write more in this direction and further this style more. I think a lot of the messy aspects of this are due to the low recording quality, so maybe something done in a full studio and not for a radio station will sound much more appealing in the future.

Carcass - Reek of Putrefaction
Earache, 1988
Genre: Grindcore

1. Genital Grinder
2. Regurgitation of Giblets
3. Maggot Colony
4. Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
5. Carbonized Eyesockets
6. Frenzied Detruncation
7. Vomited Anal Tract
8. Festerday
9. Fermenting Innards
10. Excreted Alive
11. Suppuration
12. Foeticide
13. Microwaved Uterogestation
14. Feast on Dismembered Carnage
15. Splattered Cavities
16. Psychopathologist
17. Burnt to a Crisp
18. Pungent Excruciation
19. Manifestation on Verrucose Urethra
20. Oxidised Razor Masticator
21. Mucopurulence Excretor
22. Malignant Defecation

1994 Re-issue pictured above.

“Reek of Putrefaction” is legendary in the sense that it’s one of the earliest Grindcore albums released and Carcass has been right alongside such groups as Napalm Death with this legendary status in creating the genre. Now I personally do not enjoy Grindcore very much, and by that I mean at all. I did not take to this album when I first heard it, and, to say the least, it never caught on, I basically never listen to it. When I first heard this album it was during a time when I thought good production was an absolute must in order to enjoy metal. Needless to say, my favoring of the rawer Black Metal recordings nowadays eventually won me over to a different way of thinking in that regard at least. So, when I first got this the recording quality was horrible to me and I couldn’t listen to it based on that, then again this is a new genre released in 1988, so how can the recording have high quality in the first place?

Even in my re-listening to this now, I think it’s better than what I thought before, but I still don’t like it very much and I don’t think I’ll find myself ever really pulling this out to listen to for enjoyment. One of the aspects that have become common throughout most Grindcore recordings is the short song length. I would say most of these songs are, on average, a minute and a half. This is one of the Grindcore trademarks that make it this messy blistering whirlwind of intensity. I suppose that’s the attraction to people who like this genre because they like having their senses assaulted. For this Carcass release, though, there are a degree of groovy riffs in between the crazy fast guitars and I find those groovier sections split up the songs. So it switches from coherence to incoherence. I also don't believe this is an all serious recording because there are some fairly silly sounding parts such as the vocal part on “Feast on Dismembered Carnage” where he’s pitch shifted his vocals so low that they sound ridiculous. Not to mention the track titles are beyond outrageous, “Microwaved Uterogestation” or “Vomited Anal Tract,” simply laughable! Grindcore has adopted the random gross titles to a degree and it sort of just stuck over the years along with the track lengths like “Festerday” which clocks in at twenty-two seconds.

Anyway, I think the majority of listeners of Grindcore would find more merit in this release than I have. The fans of the Carcass releases after this one might not enjoy this nearly as much because after this release and starting with “Symphonies of Sickness” they switched over to a more usual form of Death Metal. I think their Death Metal recordings are better and have more merit in my opinion, but I’ve always preferred Death Metal over Grindcore and I think I always will. Regardless, this isn’t the type of album I enjoyed very much, so let this be a warning for those of you who enjoy the other Carcass albums and haven’t heard this one yet. This is legendary in the sense that it jump started a new genre along with Napalm Death’s efforts in the same genre, but like Napalm Death Carcass refined themselves more and started writing more coherent pieces, which I personally preferred a lot more.

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