Released: 1996, Earache
Reviewer: The Punishment Due
Hidden Gem Selection
Sadly, this was to be Carcass’ last album, but damn did they go out in style! This album is very much traditional metal/classic rock inspired, with less focus on making songs complex and malevolent, and more focus on melody and straight-ahead kick-ass rockin’ songs. That said, Bill Steer and new guy Carlo Regedas do an excellent job writing catchy, technical riffs, perform some amazing solos (R**k The Vote!) and brilliantly use harmonics a lot. A bit of riff re-usage can be seen too by any diehard fans. “Cross My Heart” opens with a completely reversed version of the riff from “Embryonic Necropsy And Devourment” off SYMPHONIES OF SICKNESS. “Polarized” has the same bass line as “Genital Grinder II.” Also, the first and last songs use the same drum rhythm and almost the same riff. That still doesn’t take away from the power of SWANSONG – Carcass have something to say this time!
This album was originally titled CORPORATE ROT when it was recorded in 1995. However, due to Columbia Records’ insistence that the band ease off the metal riffs, and that Jeff take singing lessons to “humanize” the music, conflict began. Jeff refused to compromise with the record company, and after a year of wrangling over the music content, the band were dropped. Carcass went back to Earache and had the album released as SWANSONG – the year-long fight with Columbia wore the band out. Still, it’s a testament to metal that Carcass refused to bow down and sell out under the thumb of such giants as Columbia Records.
The lyrical content is a complete hate campaign against corporate rock, brainwashing, social control and guess who……Columbia Records. Jeff Walker shows a lot of anger and bitterness towards the corporate fat cats and the “rock star” attitude. Musically, Jeff’s bass is very easily made out and smoothly guides songs along with a groove. The bass intro to “Child’s Play” is one of the coolest bass lines I’ve ever heard – cool, is the only word to describe it.
Ken Owen doesn’t go as insane on this one. His drumming is still great, varying tempos and rhythms a lot, and sometimes there’s the feeling that he’s done a little more than would suffice. He shines especially on “Child’s Play,” “Firm Hand,” and “R**k The Vote.”
Overall, this CD is brilliant. I urge people to take it as it is, and not to always hold it in comparison to the previous albums. No, it’s not death metal, but it’s still metal and excellent melodic, technical music. My only complaints are with the general speed of the music, very mid-paced. Also, that the songs generally follow standard, straight-forward formulaic structures. But at the end of the day, it’s catchy, soothing metal with a theme and cause that I fully believe in. A fine, last performance from a truly superb band.