Given that Carcass has now been officially reformed for six years, having toured frequently and delighted many a new-found fan of extreme metal, a forthcoming release was inevitable. And from the very moment that “Surgical steel” was announced to be released in late 2013, it seemed as if the constantly turning heart of the death metal world had stopped just for a moment. Sure, this new line-up is lacking one Michael Amott, yet with one listen of Carcass’ new album, you’ll soon be forgetting about “Necroticism…” or “Heartwork” and start revelling in the fact that the band are simply back to grind everybody’s ears to dust. It will also convert whoever detested the remains of “Swansong” back to gleeful fans of extreme musical precision.
Though the band’s name would suggest otherwise, carcass sound as fresh as a strawberry in the great country air of Dorset. The opening one-two gut punch of the strongly anthemic ‘1985’ and teeth-grindingly intense ‘Thrasher’s abbatoir’ (The latter perhaps aptly titled for those listeners who are rather fond of slasher fiction) just breeds new life into a band which, seventeen years ago, didn’t really sound as convincing as they had done when they first formed. Jeff Walker’s trademark snarl is here in spades, and it’s hard to think that the tantalisingly menacing nature of ‘The master butcher’s apron’, ‘Unfit for human consumption’ or ‘Captive bolt pistol’ would ever be the same without his style. The rhythm section, consisting of long-time member Bill Steer and newcomer Dan Wilding (who seems to be performing as if he had been in the band for much longer than a mere year), couldn’t be any better if it tried. From the slow-burning, gradual heaviness of ‘The granulating dark satanic mills’ and ‘A congealed clot of blood’ to the razor sharp, fast-paced battering ram in ‘Noncompliance to ASTM F 889-12 standard’ and ‘Cadaverpouch conveyer system’, every aspect of “Surgical steel” seems to be charged by not only an astounding all-round musical performance, but a collection of well-structured songs that never so much as hint at the band simply messing around with their instruments as if they had only just learned how to play them.
However, what instantly makes “Surgical steel” the eye-opening extreme metal album of the year is in fact the way in which the band have seemingly revisited their former glories, and created one particular style that fuses melody, brutality and precision all into one. Whereas the shorter likes of ‘Thrasher’s abbatoir’ and ‘The master butcher’s apron’ naturally take the gritty grindcore influences of carcass’ first album “Reek of putrefaction” under their wing, both ‘Cadaver pouch conveyer system’ and ‘Unfit for human consumption’ replace what could be mere seconds of brutality for harmonizing melody, and instrumentally it sounds both sweet and terrorizing to the naked ear. Other songs, such as the menacing ‘Captive bolt pistol’ and ‘Noncompliance to ASTM F 889-12 standard’ (In particular the song’s flawless intro), clearly bow down to the magnificence that once was evident in “Necroticism: Descanting the insalubrious” and “Heartwork”, and it’s only a matter of time before you realize that Carcass, as a musical entity, still have years of life in them.
You could argue that ‘Unfit for human consumption’ and ‘316 L grade surgical steel’ both bear uncanny resemblances to earlier songs on the same album, hinting at such a slight idea that the band may be repeating themselves a bit, but this is instantly forgettable when you know that Carcass have returned to lay down the law, and show everyone how it’s done. “Surgical steel” is an example of a band continuing where they left off, and within the last few eviscerating notes of ‘Mount of execution’, you’ll be wondering to yourself just why Carcass ever split all the way back in 1996. The lowdown is, Carcass aren’t going anywhere. And on this evidence, who would want them to?
2. Thrasher’s abbatoir
3. Cadaver pouch conveyer 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. 316 L grade surgical steel
10. Captive bolt pistol
11. Mount of execution
Full album stream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMzPxHieFmU