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Symphonies Of Sickness
Released: 1989, Earache
Reviewer: The Punishment Due
Hidden Gem Selection
Following their legendary debut album REEK OF PUTREFACTION, Carcass have moved very swiftly in a more musical direction. Gone is a large part of the grindcore and punk influences that made them the premier grindcore band. The production is pretty good on this one – you can actually make out all of the isolated riffs. This album is much more death metal orientated, with great crushing riffs, excellently coordinated drumming, some nice solos and decipherable vocals. What’s more, the songs are longer and are more complexly structured.
Bill Steer didn’t do much on the first album to endear himself to other musicians, but he had obviously matured for this recording. Lots of catchy, memorable riffs and technically proficient guitar work, solos that actually go somewhere and “belong” in songs, as well as an increased songwriting depth – songs are longer with various tempo shifts, riff changes and fit into solid structures. His growling has very much improved too, with deep belches straight from the gut creating a chilling atmosphere on their own, without the need for much vocal distortion (which was completely abused on the debut.)
Jeff Walker has risen from being merely “the bassist who does some vocals.” His vocal contribution has vastly increased, partly due to the fact that Bill’s more demanding role on guitar has left him with fewer opportunities to perform both tasks at once. Jeff’s famed high growl is absolutely unique, and is one the aspects that gave Carcass their own identity. His bass work is much more demanding here, and the low tuning (down two and a half steps, to B!) gives the guitars an enveloping characteristic. The bass line that forms the intro of “Ruptured In Purulence” is haunting as hell! As well as being the bassist and vocalist, Jeff is the man who came up with the renowned gorey lyrics that go sickly deep into details of medical atrocities and other such foul themes. The “anthem” of this album is undoubtably “Exhume To Consume,” which obviously tells a tale of grave robbing and eating of corpses!
Ken Owen’s drumming is outstanding. The flow of his double bass play is excellent, and it dominates almost every drum rhythm he plays. Just as Steer switches often between pacey energy filled chugging and deep power chording, Ken switches between super fast drum rhythms with a “tripliting” kick to them, and slow unpredictable double bass/snare that just grooves along. You never know when the place is going to explode into a shower of brutal chaos. Blast beats do feature a lot of this CD, but aren’t a predominant force. They are very intricately placed seemingly where Bill’s lone guitar riffing gets repetitive and a song needs a boost – it’s not simply for the sake of brutality.
Overall, this CD was great. Lots of excellent riffing, mesmerizing drums, perfect vocals and just the right amount of brutality. It’s amazing to see how much better this band got.
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