Album Review: Carcass – Surgical Steel
Posted by Reggie
I have to admit that when I first heard Heartwork oh, a very long time ago in 1993, death metal or melo-death as it is now called really wasn’t my thing. In fact, around that time I was going through a serious Grunge hangover and getting back to what I loved most in music…Thrash metal. Heartwork with all its grandiose brutality was tempered by melody and that was the door that opened allowing me to branch my wings into a much faster and heavier form of metal. I guess it was a big deal for me because I was beginning to listen to a lot of bands no one around me (except for a select few) heard of. I did as any enthusiastic fan would do and bought some of their older albums and enjoyed the hell out of them. As quickly as Carcass entered my hip pocket of go-to bands (we had cassettes back then so it literally fit in the pocket), they seemed to disappear, but not before giving us Swansong which I really tried to like and it was ok, but something was missing. Then, Carcass went missing. Talk about disappointing!
After a long absence from the studio, it was much to my enthusiasm when I learned Carcass was recording another album. It had been so long, the album could have been Heartwork re-recorded and I still would have been excited about it. Lucky us, it’s new and it’s called Surgical Steel and it’s out now. You should get it.
Would it be obsessive if I said I was on my fourth listen already today – the actual day I wrote this? I gave it the treadmill test and it held up well, though most would argue that running to music is not a viable form of analysis. I beg to differ. If music motivates me to run longer, then something is done right. 1985 is nothing more than a musical intro that simply builds up what is about to be unleashed on me. It’s melodic and sweet which enabled Thrasher’s Abbatoir to come off as extra brutal. It is splendid song that brought back every bit of Carcass nostalgia. It was like they never left. Only, they did and I will never forgive them for that. Speaking of Abbatoir, what the hell is that? Sometimes iTunes (people) can spell shit wrong, but an alternate spelling “Abattoir” led me to discover that it is another word for a slaughterhouse. Sometimes musicians like to alter spelling, so we’ll go with that.
The riffing is killer and since my mind is flooded with all things Carcass, the riffs man, the riffs reminded me of one of the reasons I ever got into them. The riffing that opens up Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System is tight and carries the song on a nice intense gallop. Noncompliance to ASTM 899-12 Standard opened with very memorable guitar work very reminiscent of Heartwork era Carcass. On my initial spins, it is my favorite track so far – melodic, brutal, fast-paced, and loaded with virtuosic harmonies. The vocals are prime as if there was never a 17 year gap between albums. No sign of age, yet.
So, I like that album. Am I painting this picture? If not, I have failed you and Carcass. No need to do a full play-by-play, so I will get ready to conclude after talking about Mount of Execution. Why, because it has acoustic guitars. Don’t let that upset you, it’s a really cool song and something I would not necessarily call a ballad, but it is a bit of a slower tempo than the other songs, but equal in heaviness.
Lastly, let me give Carcass come credit for their ability to be creative in the song title department. Instead of calling their songs something simplified like Bitch, Asswipe, or Dildo Face, they take it to a whole new level…and this isn’t new for the band. I mean, they aren’t ALL terribly creative, but most are quite clever. Here is the track list…
- Thrasher’s Abbatoir
- Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
- A Congealed Clot of Blood
- The Master butcher’s Apron
- Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
- The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
- Unfit For Human Consumption
- 316L Grade Surgical Steel
- Captive Bolt Pistol
- Mount of Execution
- Intensive Battery Brooding (Bonus)
There had to be some thought process that went into some of those song titles. I had to look up some stuff. Track #6 Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard is actually the standard for wrought stainless steel for surgical instruments. 316L Grade Surgical Steel is an austenitic steel used for implants or equipment that is put under pressure such as bone fixation, screws, or prosthesis. 316L is often used because it is less brittle. I find this kind of thing interesting because only Carcass can write a song about the gauge used in steel surgical instruments and make it come off as most bad-ass.
Overall, I think it depends on what era Carcass fan you are if you are going to like this album. Obviously, my first love for the band is in the Heartwork and Necroticism era, therefore I say Surgical Steel really made my day. But, only you can be the master of your musical domain.