There have been few bands that have been as influential and important to metal as Carcass. From their humble beginnings as a gore-grind band all the way until now, they’ve been a pioneering force in music. They played key roles in creating and perfecting some of the sub-genres in metal that have have thrived over the past 32 years since they started their careers. From the dawn of grindcore with Napalm Death, the rise of Death Metal with Death and Obituary to the game changing melodic death metal sound with the likes of At the Gates and Dark Tranquility, they’ve had their hands in all of it. It’s not like they were just along for the ride either. They’ve literally produced some of the best albums these sub-genres have to offer. ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ and ‘Symphonies of Sickness’ are grindcore at its best, ‘Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious’ is a death metal masterpiece, and ‘Heartwork’ is one of the best, if not the best melodic death metal album ever recorded.
After ‘Heartwork’, Carcass released an album that had metal fans the world over scratching their heads. That album is ‘Swansong’. It was like a page taken right out of Metallica’s playbook when they released ‘Load’. Fans reacted in the same manner when it was released too. Carcass were either being labeled sellouts, or innovators. It was hard for people to comprehend why Carcass would switch gears the way they did after delivering a blistering and masterful album like ‘Heartwork’. The fact is, ‘Swansong’ was a clever combination of death metal and rock. This was a sound that had been originated by Entombed with their 1993 release, ‘Wolverine Blues’. Nonetheless, Carcass were once again playing a part in the pioneering of a new style of metal which would later be known as “rot n’ roll”. The incorporation of rock into extreme metal soon became prevalent in other sub-genres as well with bands like Satyricon and Destroyer 666 adding rock grooves to black metal to form “black n’ roll”.
After ‘Swansong’, Carcass released a compilation album of some of their “rare material” called ‘Wake Up and Smell the…Carcass’. In my opinion, the only good thing about this album is the bold and controversial cover, which is an autopsy photo of John F. Kennedy. After this release, Carcass broke up due to record label woes and tensions within the band.
In 2007, Carcass reformed and began to tour and play festivals. To say that their return to the scene was welcomed would be an understatement. Carcass hit the ground running and had metal fans all over the world anxiously anticipating a new album. In 2013, fans got what they were waiting for. Carcass released the ultimate comeback album. That album is ‘Surgical Steel’.
‘Surgical Steel’ was released on September 13, 2013 via Nuclear Blast with Jeff Walker on vocals and Bass, Bill Steer on guitars and backup vocals, and Dan Wilding on drums. That’s right, just three members. Sadly, Carcass’ original drummer Ken Owen suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1999, and was no longer able to play with the speed and intensity that Carcass required, but he did provide backup vocals for the album. Michael Amott who made noteworthy contributions to ‘Necroticism’ and ‘Heartwork’ was too busy with his band Arch Enemy to do anything with Carcass. Fans including myself would’ve loved to have heard these two on ‘Surgical Steel’, but frankly, their presence wasn’t necessary. Jeff, Bill and Dan put together an album that is a genuine masterpiece. From the intro “1985” all the way through to the end, ‘Surgical Steel’ delivers a masterful variety of songs that encompass the very best of what extreme metal has offer. The compositions are beautifully crafted, and every member plays with expert technicality and high energy. Unlike some bands, Carcass didn’t play any games with this release after their hiatus. They gave fans exactly what they wanted. ‘Surgical Steel’ is every bit as good as ‘Heartwork’, and it’s left hordes of extreme metal fans like myself licking their chops for their new album which is due out this year.