18 November 2013

Carcass - Surgical Steel


That was the first thing I thought once the first proper track (Thrasher's Abbatoir) thundered through my headphones like a demented bull. Seeing as the last album was a sonic equivalent of a wet fart (Swansong - rant to follow), it was awesome to hear the energy and vibrancy in the music again.

Carcass were one of the major players in the early UK grindcore scene and their lyrics and song-titles (Picked from medical textbooks) drew certainly drew attention, as did the thundering music. Coupled together with album covers that were collages of dead bodies and rotting meat, this certainly lent a mystique of sorts - especially when the police raided (then-label) Earache's offices on the pretence they were snuff pictures! Irony being that the majority of Carcass were vegetarians. It takes all sorts, I guess.

In the early to mid-90's, Carcass began to change from grindcore and into something which would turn into melodic death metal. This wasn't too bad and - sorry to offend all the purists out there - turned out to be their best era for me. Then it all went wrong. They released an album called 'Swansong' which IMO was crap. Yes, there were a lot of problems at the time (They'd been signed up by a major label - Columbia - and then went back to Earache and split up before the album was released!) but that usually fires people up. Instead, we got an album that sounded confused and didn't know if it wanted to be stadium-friendly or full-on metal. Kind of like any Megadeth album after 1992 - especially Super Collider. Then...nothing.

Until now!

After playing reunion shows since 2007, Carcass made the announcement that they were gonna start recording again and sure enough, we have this album! And it's fucking brilliant. Not as good as their early 90's heyday but thank fuck we never got another 'Swansong'. The band sound re-energised and tear it up in the studio! Joined by new members Daniel Wilding on drums (Old drummer Ken Owen couldn't come back as he'd suffered a cerebral brain haemorrage in 1999) and Ben Ash on guitar (Michael Amott was doing his Arch Enemy thing). With a more than competent production by Colin Richardson (Usually, his mixes are heavy but a bit muddy), they managed to release this album. Each track on here is a savage and violent attack which is just what you want, instead of shitty puns based on Neil Young songs. The sound of this album is somewhere between Necroticism and Heartwork. Now some people may point out that this is a regression, that a band who previously experimented and pushed themselves have gone back somewhat. I wouldn't agree - if anything, they've gone back to doing what they're good at IMO. Let's face, this type of music is never gonna be a commercial hit so why bother trying?

This is an album that sits well with their early 90's stuff. I'm headbanging as I type this, having listened to "Unfit For Human Consumption" for the third time. Hey, it's the best song on here! In all honesty, it's one of those albums you could go through without skipping tracks. It's not as good as Necroticism or Heartwork but sits well amongst them. But at least it's better than...oh, you get the idea (I never liked 'Swansong' btw). The only downpoint is that the drums are a bit 'clicky' but it doesn't hamper it too much.

8/10 - Oh you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.

Chris J.

This album is available on iTunes.

Listen to this album on Spotify

Buy this album on Amazon

(Ed's comment - whilst Mr. Jerm is entitled to his clearly wrong opinion about Swansong, here is a link to that review where you can make you own opinion - Eddie)

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