overground scene


That Carcass feel

carcass_logo

The year 2013 is marked by lots of hype in metal circles. First, there was the release of the first Black Sabbath album with Ozzy since 1978. The hype eventually translated in sales, with the album earning #1 status in nine countries. Of course, the hype was not merely driven by the fact that many people love Black Sabbath, but also by a very well orchestrated marketing campaign involving press conferences, release parties, studio updates and airplay. Second, September will see the release of a new Carcass album, their first since the (at the time) aptly named Swansong, in 1996.

As much as I have loved Carcass I don’t ever remember actually missing them. The first reason is that their albums still sound fresh so no matter how many times I have heard them over the years I never got bored of them. The second reason is that there are so many Carcass clones active out there. Within two years of the release of their debut they already had their own tribute band,Carcass1 General Surgery from Sweden. Since then, many Carcass clones stubbornly continued the style of music that Carcass introduced with their first two records and abandoned since. The main elements of this recipe include the interchange between screaming and guttural vocals, the mix of metal and hardcore, medical/gory lyrics and, occasionally, the blatant stealing of actual Carcass riffs. Some of the most well-known of these bands are Haemorrhage from Spain, Impaled and Exhumed from the US and, to much lesser extent, Aborted from Belgium.

There are some people who are skeptical about reforming a cult band for fear of messing up with their legacy. I am not among those people. There is always the possibility that the motives behind a reformation would be to cash-in on the resurgence of interest in a band (and the overall interest in extreme metal), but that does not necessarily mean that the result would be bad. I am sure that many of the bands I love were motivated by money even when they started their careers. In the case of Carcass, I doubt that the primary motivation was money. I believe that Bill and Jeff sincerely love music and that they genuinely wanted to create music together again. Even in this case, however, skeptics might be worried about ruining the band’s legacy. Again, I  personally do not care about that. Musicians should not think whether they will disappoint their fans. (That’s one of the reasons I respect Morbid Angel.) In any case, Carcass never stayed “true” to their own sound. Album after album they experimented and morphed into a slightly different monster. Many Carcass fans do not even like the brilliant Swansong.

Carcass-Surgical-SteelSurgical Steel is exactly what its cover art signifies: a polished version of post-1992 Carcass. If this album was released in 1994 it would have made the transition from Heartwork to Swansong much smoother for the fans. It is more melodic than Heartwork and at times flirts with more Rock melodies and structures, but refrains from giving itself entirely to the more simple forms and slow pace of Swansong. (I have always thought that Swansong has incredible songs, beautifully structured and orchestrated. The awesome riffs, the inventive vocal patterns and the amazing lyrics make up for the slow pace of the album.)

The album starts in quite majestic way with the short instrumental “1985″. The undernote in this song is, “stand the fuck aside, we’re coming through”. Three kinds of bands can dare to open an album the way Surgical Steel kicks off: spoiled middle-class brats, kind of dorky epic-metal bands, or masters in their craft. Carcass are neither brats nor dorks and, in any case, neither brats nor dorks would be able to come up with the specific aesthetics of this song,just the attitude. Jeff’s vocals are, for me, the big asset of this album. The vocal patterns he comes up with are as good as ever. Some riffs, such as the first riff of “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” blew me away completely. I must have listened to that riff a million times the last week. Add Jeff’s growling and the result is a recipe for hundreds of bands to copy in the years to come. However, the melody that follows that riff is a major anti-climax for me… Nevertheless, the song eventually unfolds into a small masterpiece. “A Congealed Clot of Blood”  is another song I really like. Quite slow, with a main riff reminiscent of the song “Heartwork” and a melody in the beginning and the end reminiscent of the melody near the end of ” Corporal jigsore quandary”. “The Master Butcher’s Apron” is another impressive song with nice vocal patterns and amazing riffs. “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” is a very groovy song with a very catchy chorus and a fast punky mid-section. This song, maybe without the fast part, could easily be on Swansong. Definitely one of my favorite on the album*. What could be considered the eponymous song (i.e. “316 L grade surgical steel”) is quite remarkable, especially the chorus and subsequent fast sections as well as the vocals. The more Rock influences are apparent in this song again, especially with the major chord progressions and the closing section (right after a killer ‘criminally insane’ passage). My favorite so far on the album. The more straight-to-the-point songs, like “Captive bolt pistol”, “Thrasher’s abattoir” and “Noncompliance…” are also pretty impressive.

carcass_2013

There are some riffs that remind of old songs, a little bit of “Blind bleeding the blind” here, a little bit of “Firm hand” there (as well as some lyrical references to the past, e.g. ruptured in purulence), but that’s natural. There’s only one thing I don’t like about the new album. I cannot ignore the “Holy wars” rip-off on “Unfit for Human Consumption”, which ruins this song completely for me. This riff is one of a kind. There’s no way you can copy it and get away with it. I’m really surprised nobody picked it up (although I wouldn’t be surprised if none of them has listened to Megadeth for the last 20 years so they just forgot what this riff reminds them). In any case, it feels a lot awkward to me (in the same way I feel when I hear Anvil ripping off “crazy train”, Ghost ripping off King Diamond’s life work, Metallica shamelessly ripping off Diamond Head, Ritual Carnage ripping off Slayer, Decapitated shamelessly ripping off Vader, etc.).

In my opinion, Carcass made a phenomenal album worthy of their old ones. As a person who has loved every single album they released I am pretty chuffed to be hearing a comeback like this. Did they re-invent themselves? I wouldn’t say so. They sound to me like they settled somewhere between Heartwork and Swansong. Does that mean their art can be considered redundant? No way! Carcass belong to the league of bands (Immolation, Paradise Lost, Napalm Death, Autopsy) who have a unique style yet they are not crippled by it. To my ears they are as relevant as ever. All their songs, including the new ones, are timeless. And although bands like Haemorrhage and Impaled have kept us company all these years, with some admittedly amazing albums, and have done the job of Carcass more than fine, they never addressed the more melodic side of Carcass. This new album has a lot of that latter. And it makes a big difference to hear the masters themselves.

* The numbers repeated in the chorus are 6026961. Not having read the lyrics I cannot imagine what this stands for. However, if we remove the “satanic”  part (i.e. 666) then we are left with 0291, which stands for, among other things, the classification code for the livestock and animal specialties industry group in the United States, which sounds pretty Carcass to me!

p.s. I tried to embed links of songs off Surgical Steel but all videos on youtube were eventually taken down.

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27 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You sir…Is probably the first one who is actually sniffing the actual solution to the: 6026961 riddle. Concrats 🙂

-Great review by the way…

//
Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Billy

Glad you enjoyed it! I also thought that it might have something to do with Beverly Hills, 90210 XD Im pretty sure once the lyrics surface we’ll find out the true answer…

Comment by lentil81

Hmmm a strange coincidence in link adress and the theemes in the later song: “The dark satanic granulating mills”? (Obviously refering to: Blake/preface to Milton…)

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/leen+ritmeyer/the+quest/6026961/

====>Bok No. 6026961:
“The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem”

Howevere it would be a bit awkward to use a reference ta an internet link, so its probably not correct. If not correct..its however a fascinating and very improbable coincidense 🙂

//

Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Billy

Edit:

-Sorry…
By the “theemes in later song” reference, I of course ment to write: “Mount of Execution” 🙂

Sorry for confusioin..

//

BR. Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Billy

Ha, that’s a pretty cool coincidence indeed! I’m familiar with Jerusalem but I’ve never actually read Blake… Anyway, it would have been even more amazing if 6026961 was mentioned on mount of execution!

Comment by lentil81

Fuckin hell! You’re onto something here! Dark satanic mills is indeed mentioned in the poem :O http://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/rdover/blake/jerusale.htm
Could it be that Walker is chanting a book reference number that is somewhat associated with Jerusalem?! XD

Comment by lentil81

http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/28907/Carcass-Frontman-Jeff-Walker-Calls-Out-Bands-That-Have-Plagiarized-Carcass-Sound

Middle of page: Soundclip

…Hat’s off: -You are mentioned by Jeff 🙂

//

BR. Bills’ left pinky

ps. By The way I think actually I have the correct-/Jeff intended; soulution!?
-Interested?

Comment by Bills’ left pinky

Jeff thinks I’m clever… 🙂 Hahaha, good stuff! Thanx for the link! Did you read the previous comment I posted about your initial interpretation? That sounded pretty accurate too! So, what is your new theory?

Comment by lentil81

Yepp..Read Your comment…Thanks,

However…As clever as my inital “spotting”, might have suggest the answer to be…I saw another comment that seemed to fit great with some earlier, amusingly arcane and overall general hints from Jeff himself (E.G:-With Internet it’s to easy “nowadays”. -I encourage people to use their imagination etc…):
So…A comment that “rang some bells” was something in the lines of : “20 th sept 1969: Lennon leaves Beatles”.
I.e. Someone had been ponderign the figures as upside down, and then read it kinda’ backwords….However if you just do that; the “2”, once upside down, will merely be a strange and non logic symbol…

BUT: If “6026961” instead is entered into an
“old calculator” you get the “2”:
to be rotational symetric 😀

You then turn the calculator upside down and you can READ : 1969209 = 1969-20-9 = 20th September 1969 = Lennon officially leaves Beatles.

=The “working class hero” is by then finally emancipated 😉

===>A conundrum, buy Jeff, with a heavily relevant, cleaver and elegant solution, in my humble opinion!

-That’s at least my one penny for a thought 😉

//

BR. Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Bills’ left pinky

That’s pretty cool! It even makes sense with some of the lyrics and it’s not really that far fetched. So, did Walker or someone else hint something about Lennon?

Comment by lentil81

No, not as in firing away a bunch of “Lennon hints”, in interviews touching upon the riddle.

Otherwise I’d say a big YES: Both in spirit, as well as: more directly, then and now:

E.g.:
Heartwork: “Arbeit macht fleish”
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: “Working class hero”

Also, not to mention both were/are pioners and also originating from Liverpool.

+ Final lines of Granulating dark satanic mills = direct citation/phrace and also a spot on paraphrace, on Lennons “Working class hero”…to be..to bleed!

//
BR. Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Bills’ left pinky

That’s impressive. I’m pretty sure you managed to decipher exactly what Walker meant when writing the lyrics! Now that I actually bought the album, all the lyrics are, as expected, a pleasure to read! I really like how songs 3,4 and 5 are kind of an anti-war/militarism trilogy! And the rest of the songs have some awesome ideas in them. Plus the record had a really cool bonus song 🙂

Comment by lentil81

Hi again 😀

Just sharing a “sort of visual” explenation of the solution:
(Near end of the video:-)

//

Bills’ left pinky

Comment by Bills’ left pinky

Heh, I love misheard lyrics videos 😀 really awesome job on this one! Car ass – fartword.

Comment by lentil81

Very well written and insightfull review.
“Timless music, like theirs, will allways be concidered classic”

//

Joan.

Comment by Joan

Thank you for your nice words, Joan!

Comment by lentil81

here you go!

Comment by Lsoto

Thanx 🙂 With the official permission of the company too! Apparently companies start to embrace the marketing potential of youtube rather than shutting down accounts.

Comment by lentil81

AMAZING AMAZING review! I LOVE it! Can not agree more on Swansong! In my opinion, it is THE most underrated metal album of all time. I also place it in the top 3 metal albums of all time. Ever. And I did feel that the Satanic Mills track closely resembles the Swansong feel, and it’s AMAZING! Thank you for such a fantastic review. I found your blog by trying to figure out what that number int he chorus was! Clever theory!

Comment by fadi

Hey, thank you for your really nice words 🙂 Swansong is brilliant and, actually, I like most of the “experimental” phases that extreme metal bands went through in the mid-90s. Dismember’s massive killing, Tiamat’s wildhoney, Morgoth’s feel sorry for the fanatic and the Napalm Death stuff, I love them all!

Comment by lentil81

whoah, unfit… is my favorite song on this brilliant album for the same reason you don’t like it – holy waaars 😀 and you’re the only one that actually took notice. congrats sherlock 😉

great review, riddle solution is best available so far.

Comment by maare

Thanx, glad you enjoyed the review 🙂 After listening to Unfit a few times I got used to it, it doesn’t bother me anymore… It’s amazing how much discussion the Granulating mills thingy has incited!

Comment by lentil81

Google 6026961 and you get this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/6026961

Which also leads to this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18845759/

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this was found within the depths of earth in a mine, either. 😉

Comment by sheckylarue

That’s true, a pretty fuckin heavy gene! 🙂

Comment by lentil81

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