(Nuclear Blast Records)
When prototypical Liverpool, England-born Death Metal pioneers Carcass unleashed their groundbreaking debut Reek Of Putrification upon a largely unsuspecting public in 1988, the group immediately appeared destined to have a significant and lasting impact on the then still-burgeoning genre. 'Jam-packed' with a staggering array of quasi-blasphemous offerings (i.e. “Genital Grinder”, “Feast On Dismembered Carnage” and “Manifestation Of Verrucose Urethra”, among others), controversial imagery and a previously unparalleled emphasis on incorporating elements of the Grindcore, Goregrind and Splatter Death Metal sub-genres, nothing seemed capable of preventing them from succeeding. Fortunately for all parties involved, this was indeed the case as they effectively laid the foundations for an entire generation of like-minded brethren. Now, twenty-five woefully long years later, I again find myself utterly intrigued with their long-overdue comeback Surgical Steel.
On the stellar Surgical Steel (2013), an expertly assembled eleven song collection (the digipak, European two LP and steel book versions contain the bonus track “Intensive Battery Brooding”) of Melodic Death Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling modus operandi “Thrasher's Abattoir” and the delightfully maniacal “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Wisely attempting to improve upon the arguably lackluster, Carlo Regadas-fueled Swansong (1996), the group engulfs the proverbial average listener amid a veritable avalanche of bowel-churning vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Deftly intertwining an intangible element of lyrical, musical and stylistic originality amid each all-consuming composition, the curiously disinterred group finds itself firing on all cylinders, operating amid a bona fide peak.
Continuing with the speed-of-light lament “Noncompliance To ASTM F 899-12 Standard” and the impossibly hook-laden “Unfit For Human Consumption”, the newly-rejuvenated combination of vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker, lead guitarist Bill Steer (Angel Witch, Firebird, Napalm Death), guitarist Ben Ash and drummer Daniel Wilding (Aborted, Heaven Shall Burn, Trigger The Bloodshed) steamrolls ahead with what can only be described as a uniquely sickening ease. Partially propelled by the recruitment of the oft-frenetic Wilding, the group drives home each key focal point with the now-trademark brutality and ferociousness that highlighted their prototypical past (most notably the ingenious post-Symphonies Of Sickness era). Wasting little--if any--time reaffirming their rightful place amid the fabled hierarchies of the Death Metal genre, the group flexes their creative muscles, yielding a series of auditory odysseys that are both truly devastating and lastingly memorable.
Produced, Mixed and Mastered by a 'dream team' tandem of Colin Richardson (As I Lay Dying, Machine Head, Trivium) and Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Megadeth, Testament), other standouts, including the bile-spewing tirade “316 L Grade Surgical Steel” and the equally impressive, acoustic-tinged closer “Mount Of Execution”, offer a veritable wealth of further sonic evidence in support of the group's long-overdue resurgence. Easily the most highly-anticipated Death Metal release of the rapidly waning year, what ultimately separates the mighty Surgical Steel (and, as a result, the collective members of the group itself) from it's few legitimate contemporaries is an overall emphasis on recreating the unhinged ferociousness that once propelled them to the dizzying heights of international notoriety and recognition. The end result(s), as you've likely already deduced, of the group's more than considerable efforts are easily worthy of the highest critical and commercial accolades.
So what's really wrong? Absolutely nothing. Although not necessarily on par with the improbably long-running group's already much-celebrated coup de grâce Heartwork (1993) or the awkwardly-titled yet highly-effective Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious (1991), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly over-the-top wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to appeal to both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike. Most definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of constitution (or, for that matter, anyone without a genuine and sincere appreciation for all things 'Melodic' and 'Death Metal'), Surgical Steel is quite possibly as good as it gets. As a result, if you've once again found yourself in search of an unrelentingly bloodthirsty reprieve from the painfully mindless din and clatter that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane cures for whatever it is that ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Surgical Steel (2013)
Choice Cuts (2004)
Best Of Carcass (1998)
Wake Up And Smell...The Carcass (DVD) (1996)
Wake Up And Smell...The Carcass (1996)
The Heartwork EP (1993)
Gods Of Grind (EP) (1992)
Tools Of The Trade (EP) (1992)
Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious (1991)
Live At St. Georges Hall (EP) (1990)
The Peel Sessions (EP) (1989)
Symphonies Of Sickness (1989)
Pathalogic (EP) (1989)
Reek Of Putrification (1988)
Symphonies Of Sickness (Demo) (1988)
Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment (Demo) (1987)
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