Carcass / Gorguts
Decibel Magazine Tour
The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
April 12, 2014
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf
When you think of surgical precision in metal, you think of Liverpool’s Carcass, the recently resuscitated goregrind / death metal / melodic death metal band which is revered by many metalheads. I first discovered Carcass in May 1992, while watching a HARD N HEAVY videotape of the late 80s / early 90s grindcore / death metal scene. The video included segments on several Earache bands that I was familiar with, including Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed, and Bolt Thrower. The last band featured was Carcass, and when the ominous billowing winds started at the beginning of “Reek of Putrefaction”, I knew I was in for some heavy shit! I was shocked by the savagery, sickness, and overall heaviness of the song! It crushed everything else on the video and the next day I bought the first Carcass cassette I could find, which was NECROTICISM – DESCANTING THE INSALUBRIOUS. I finally got to see Carcass live for the first time at last year’s Maryland DeathFest and the music was mindblowing. New album SURGICAL STEEL, their first in 17 years, is a great album that many metal reviewers put at the top of their annual lists for 2013 (it was #2 on mine). When it was announced that Carcass would headline the 2014 Decibel Magazine tour, I was excited to see them again and get the opportunity to hear some SURGICAL STEEL live. Put your scrubs on, get that compression forceps and let’s get ready to operate!
Tonight’s show is at the Trocadero, my favorite venue in Philadelphia. The old (est 1870) building holds 1,200 people standing room downstairs and another 250 up in the balcony. The stage is large and very high, unfortunately stage diving has been eliminated with the photo pit which serves as a gap between the crowd and the stage. Sound quality is good and loud and the place just oozes a metal atmosphere, I’ve seen so much good shit here over the years (Morbid Angel, Crowbar, Grip Inc., Testament, Overkill, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Kreator, and Grave off of the top of my head). Crowd is close to sold out tonight and the place is buzzing! BRING IT!
First band that I cared about on the bill was Canada’s Gorguts. I was lucky enough to catch them on the 2012 DEATH TO ALL tour and now they are promoting their new album COLORED SANDS. Gorguts was very tight and together, their new stuff sounds kind of doomy / trippy / proggy with Luc Lemay’s great elongated growls. Their musicianship was quite impressive and the crowd really dug what Gorguts had to offer. Only one older song was played and it drew the most violent response – “Obscura”. I was hoping for something off of CONSIDERED DEAD (how about “Bodily Corrupted”?) or THE EROSION OF SANITY but it just wasn’t to be. It’s a shame they only got a half hour. A word on COLORED SANDS, live the stuff sounds great but the studio versions feature much lighter vocals from Luc, I suspect that is intentional to appeal to a wider audience. The heavier the better for me!
Gorguts set list:
1. Le Toit du Monde
2. An Ocean of Wisdom
3. Forgotten Arrows
4. Colored Sands
Carcass took the stage at 9:30 and opened with “Buried Dreams” from HEARTWORK. I don’t even like HEARTWORK, but the song sounded great, perfectly mixed and blended riffs and rhythms from Bill Steer and newcomer Ben Ash, strong bass and ferocious vox from Jeff Walker, and proficient drumming from Dave Wilding. Without taking a breath they dove right into fan favorite “Incarnated Solvent Abuse”, which was fucking brilliant, and then blasted us with the new song “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”, one of my faves from SURGICAL STEEL. It was a damn impressive way to start the set and the crowd was rabid and frothing but somewhat awed at the same time. The evening had just begun!
Bill Steer is just amazing, he’s one of the few death metal guitarists that I’ve seen playing a Gibson, and that probably has to do with his diverse musical background of blues, rock, NWOBHM, and grindcore. He deftly handled heavy riffs and stunning solos, sometimes playing lead (during “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” he was all over that fucking guitar), sometimes playing rhythm (“The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills”). Drummer Dave Wilding is the one of the only death metal drummers I’ve seen with one bass drum, as a result his sound would never be mistaken for Steve Asheim or Tim Yueng but he was still pretty good. Ben Ash handled all of the material well but didn’t dazzle me, Mike Amott he ain’t. And then we get to Jeff, who is a complete ham. In between songs he was cracking jokes, insults, and just using good old British bluntness. He credited Philadelphia for “inventing Aids” (Tom Hanks movie Philadelphia for those that haven’t seen it), corrected our Carcass chant (“IT’S CAR-CASS, NOT KAR-KUS”), commented that Bill is the only good looking guy in the band, said he was having the back doors locked when it was time to play some material from the reviled SWANSONG, and said the best way to keep a band going is to recruit some new members that are 20 years younger! Jeff is a great bass player, as a vocalist he handles most of the vox nowadays, both the high and the low. His high vocals are savage, nasty, and piercing. His low ones are decent but it is not the same as having Bill do them.
The set was an awesome mix of new and old material, highlights included “Noncompliance to ASTM 899-12 Standard (boy that is fucking medical mouthful, but a great song!), “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” (WTF is that about?!?), “Reek of Putrefaction” (Bill sang part of this one and it was brutal, old school pit action too!), “Unfit for Human Consumption”, “Exhume to Consume” (I DEVOUR THIS PEDICULOUS CORPSE! – more Bill deep vox, fucking MOSH!), “Captive Bolt Pistol” (circle pit!), and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” (I did a group headbang with about 10 people in the pit, awesome!). Jeez, can you tell I don’t like HEARTWORK or SWANGSONG? I think it’s great that those lighter albums got more people into Carcass, but if there’s no Bill Steer vox, it just doesn’t cut it for me. There were several medleys, 4 I think, see the set list below. Generally I don’t care for medleys, I’d rather hear fewer full songs than a bunch blended together, but the musicianship was so impressive I didn’t really mind. Of course I would have rather gotten all of “Ruptured in Purulence” instead of having it mixed with “Heartwork”, but it still sounded superb.
After 75 min I had worked up a good sweat in the pit and everyone seemed happy. Driving home my hands stunk of b.o., but it was not my own; it was from shoving others while moshing in the pit! If that isn’t a sign of a good pit, I don’t know what the fuck is! Hell, it sounds like THIS IS SPINAL TAP (“He choked on vomit, but not his own vomit.”)! It was an excellent set and a great night. Crowd response was the best I’ve seen in a small venue since the Metal Alliance Tour last year (Anthrax, Exodus, and Municipal Waste). My 42nd birthday was earlier in the week and this was a great birthday present for me! In my opinion, with apologies to the great Morbid Angel, Carcass is the most musically impressive death metal band in the world, there is no other band like them and there never will be. Vocally, I don’t think Carcass is on the same level as the best live death metal bands (Obituary, Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, and Deicide) but musically no one can touch them. SURGICAL STEEL is a killer album and the Liverpool’s boys can bring it live, check ‘em out when they come to town!
Carcass set list:
2. Buried Dreams
3. Incarnated Solvent Abuse
4. Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
5. Carnal Forge
6. Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
7. No Love Lost
8. The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
9. Edge of Darkness / This Mortal Coil
10. Reek of Putrefaction
11. Unfit for Human Consumption
12. Genital Grinder
13. Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
14. Exhume to Consume
15. Captive Bolt Pistol
16. Corporal Jigsore Quandary / The Sanguine Article
17. Black Star / Keep On Rotting in the Free World
18. Ruptured in Purulence / Heartwork