Have you ever gone years without seeing an old friend, then you run into them and it's like no time has passed at all? You fall comfortably back into the old routines and rituals of friendship as easily as writing your own name, as if time had no power over the strength of a true bond, a real connection. Listening to the new Carcass is sort of like that for me. I haven't seen my friend in over a decade, and so many new friends have come and gone since then. And none of it matters a bit. Those years in between have seemingly not even happened. The conversation is familiar, but my old friend seems to have gained a hell of a lot with age.
The new Carcass smokes. Period. Everything a metal fan could ask for and more. Majestic, soaring NWOBHM melodies. Scorching grind/death metal with precision blast beats. Blazing thrash metal in the finest 90's tradition. A wide array of both face-melting and melodic solos. Throat-scraping growls from Jeff Walker as viciously wicked as ever. Puzzling, disturbing song titles and lyrics. Ah, welcome back to my headphones, Carcass.
This album flows right along with ridiculously perfect pacing. I don't know if I've ever listened to a metal album with more of a perfect balance between speed, brutality, melody, and riffing. The musicianship and songwriting are beyond reproach, and to that end, the album seems to have been written and recorded with obvious knowledge of a masterpiece-in-the-making. After listening to it about ten times, I'm beginning to think of it as the "Rust In Peace" of extreme metal.
Every fan will have their own favorites, but for pure thrash/grindcore mayhem, you won't find better songs than "Thrasher's Abattoir", "The Master Butcher's Apron", or "Captive Bolt Pistol". On the melodic end, I can't, can't, can't get enough of "The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills". And for an exact demonstration of how to play flawless thrash, look no further than a track that had to be mentioned for both its high quality and catchy title, "Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard". Did I mention how glad I am to see my old friend?
Without question, Carcass have entered the conversation for Album of the Year. You'll be hearing a lot about "Surgical Steel" before 2013 is out.
on September 18, 2013
It's safe to say we've all been waiting quite awhile for this one. And man oh man was it worth the wait.
Steer's rhythm guitar work, running the gamut from speed metal licks to thrash riffs to melodic hooks to tremolo picks, is superlative. Walker's rasp & lyrical wizardry are in top form. The drumming is tight. The production is slick.
So far I'm liking all of the tracks. I'm trying to find a weak link in the bunch and so far I'm not finding it. The only one that I will call out by name is the surprising 8+ minute final track, "Mount of Execution", and its throwback to NWOBHM/early thrash riffs & imagery; in terms of Carcass' own history, and given the song's slower pacing, it's more like a track from the Swansong era than anything else. This is not a bad thing - this is a top track.
And lastly, I might add, it's also great to hear Bill Steer's guttural growl return on some backing vocals. Haven't heard that since the Necroticism days.
If you are a fan of Carcass then I'd wager that it's almost impossible to be disappointed with this album. So go buy a copy!
on September 17, 2013
I had never heard about Carcass until I saw the Heartwork video on Headbanger's Ball back in the day but I immediately purchased the album Heartwork and its predecessors. When Swansong came out I wasn't disappointed, as the more pretentious hardcore fans were, because I was just thrilled to hear more Carcass music and, while it was different, I thought it was still better than most of the other music out at the time.
Surgical Steel is the album all Carcass fans have waited for. There is a return to the themes of their first few albums, both in subject matter and use of their thesaurus, as well as sharp riffs, blasting drums, and alternating vocals of Necroticism and Heartwork. My first reaction was that this is the album Carcass could have produced after Necroticism using the production of Heartwork. But there's so much more to it than that.
I won't make this a long review. It doesn't need to be. If you love hardcore music, regardless of genre or sub-genre name, and aren't one of the aforementioned people who think Carcass was only good when the production value was low and you could barely differentiate one riff or vocal from another, then you will enjoy this album very much.
Surgical Steel hasn't left my CD player since I got it.
on September 17, 2013
What can I say about this album that hasn't already been said? This album, to put it simply, is outstanding in virtually every way. The songs sound like they are from the Necroticism/Heartwork era (my favorite era of Carcass), while still sounding completely fresh and new. Bill Steer's riffs, melodies and solos are blistering throughout the entire album. Jeff Walker's vocals are classic Carcass - disturbing and funny at the same time. While I miss Ken Owen, and it's a tragedy that he can't perform anymore, Dan Wilding's drums blew me away on this album. There are so many memorable songs on Surgical Steel, but "Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System", "Noncompliance To ASTM F 899-12 Standard", "Unfit For Human Consumption" and "Captive Bolt Pistol" really stood out from the rest. Surgical Steel will go down as an instant death metal classic from a band that showed the world 20 years ago how it's done. If I could only buy one album in 2013, this is the one I would buy.
on September 30, 2013
I'm not going to write a long review of each song, etc. but just wanted to voice my opinion, and make one point. First of all the album is great. Solid four stars, and worth the wait. I don't feel like they are breaking any new ground here, as they did in the late 80's, and early 90's, so I wouldn't give it five stars. Reek, Symphonies, Necroticism, and Heartwork all brought something to the table that had never been done before, Surgical Steel doesn't bring anything new, but is still a very solid release. Back in their prime, Carcass was setting the bar for everyone else, and it is nice to see that they can still perform at that level. In a way it feels like this album should have come out two years after Heartwork. It really fits that era.
Now the point that I wanted to make. So far, what I read, and hear from a lot of people is how bad they expected this album to be after such a long break, and now they are blown away by how good it is. Well, I agree that this is a great album, but I think the reason it is getting so many five star reviews is because people are so surprised that it doesn't stink. I think the expectations were so low for Surgical Steel that when everyone finally heard it, and it was great, it floored them into five star reviews. This is not a five star album. As I said before, there is nothing new here, but that is okay because these are good songs, the right length, played well, and better than almost everything else out there right now. I don't feel like this album will be the classic that Necroticism, or Heartwork is. I don't mention Swansong here because it was admittedly just a quick run together of songs to fulfill a contract, and it shows. If I had to rank all of their albums in order from best to worst it would be Necroticism, Heartwork, Surgical Steel, Symphonies, Reek, Swansong. The Tools of the Trade EP is pretty strong too.
Anyway, pick this up. It is definitely worth it. A fantastic release by these legends.
on September 17, 2013
Words don't do justice to this situation. It's basically a death metal fantasy/pipe dream come to life. When the reunion shows started it was still just pillow talk, intangible ideas that fans salivate over discussing incessantly. Now 17 years after the last Carcass l.p. and even five years out from the reunion shows, Surgical Steel is here. If there is any doubt in any mind as to what Carcass may have left or if there even is a need for Carcass anymore, all one needs to do is listen to the first five tracks here and marvel at the remarkable feat provided by one of the all time greats in Extreme Metal history.
This album packs all eras of Carcass on to one finely honed disc and pushes things even further into the future. It's become standard for us to hear new bands translating the Carcass sound into their own molds. But to listen to the originals do it, it becomes immediately apparent which band does it best. The production is excellent, sounding both brutally heavy and natural. Nods to Slayer and Death as well as that fiery, bluesy, lead work by Bill Steer are the absolute driving force of the album and to say the Death Metal community has missed him, is a supreme understatement. The contributions of new drummer Dan Wilding are incredibly intricate, groovy, and pay a small homage to Ken Owen's style which is the only way this reunion could have worked so well. Jeff Walker snarls and rasps his way through 11 tracks of political, biological, and existential disdain like it was 1993 all over again and his bass playing really augments the faster drumming and guitar playing and completes Carcass.
There is absolutely no reason not to buy this now. Don't steal it, buy it. Let's show the bloated stagnant Billboard charts that Extreme Metal fans support our favorite groups to the death. As filthy and repugnant as they've ever been, Carcass are masters once again!
on September 18, 2013
If you are a fan of Carcass, Surgical Steel is, without question, a "must have". After seventeen years (yeah, nearly TWO DECADES), Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, and company are back in such proper form that it seems like they had never left. They bring the tasty shredding riffs and eerie/awesome solos that we all love. This material is as fresh and as biting as everything else they gave us so long ago.
When some bands return after a hiatus, they are just trying to recapture an old era, and the resultant music is tired and watered down. Surgical Steel is NOT that kind of comeback. All of the aggression that you expect is packed in there, with Jeff Walker's signature vocals and even Bill Steer's ore-crushing vocals accent the songs here and there. Their new drummer, while he isn't the same style as Ken Owen, does a fantastic job, and his playing might give the music a bit of an extra edge because his playing style is a bit more aggressive overall.
Like others have said, they blend the styles that they developed on each of the albums over their career very well in Surgical Steel. It is absolutely one of the best metal albums, and you should probably stop reading my review so that you can buy it and hear it for yourself!
on October 20, 2013
I first heard about carcass when a friend of mine bought 'Reek of Putrefaction' when it first came out in 1988 and I couldn't get over the front cover. He lent it to me right there and then without even hearing it himself so I took it home and started to listen. I think for the first time I became somewhat freaked out by an album. listening to the two vocalists in conjunction with looking at the front cover made me a little sick. i showed my brother and he too was slightly concerned. But i knew this was very different and very intriguing.
Years have passed and I ended up buying all of their albums and saw them twice live (1991 & 2008) and now have the latest in their catalogue "Surgical Steel". I never thought I would see another album by Carcass but have to admit I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy and hear it. Carcass are my favorite heavy band by far because there is something different about them. There is no obvious devil worshipping or death songs, but the compositions (or decompositions if you like) study other subject matter that removes itself from many conscious considerations and delve into a dark, and at times more frightening realm.
I found the album a pretty good return for this talented band. I like the way the songs seem to progress as the albums did from their early in your face compositions through to their later, more structured work.
highlights for me include:
Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
Captive Bolt Pistol
Mount of Execution - particularly the ending
the playing is top standard as you would expect however some of the songs seem to drag in parts. Also i wasn't a huge fan of the drum sound and thought the bass drum could have been more pounding like in the earlier albums.
But these are small criticisms and overall it is a great addition to their already impressive discography. i hope they release more...
on November 23, 2013
It's CARCASS. A bit of a mix between "Tools Of The Trade" and "Heartwork". Nice solos. If you're a Carcass fan... you will like it. Not a bad return for these fellas. See what you think.
on September 17, 2013
The other reviewers have pretty much covered it already. This album sounds like it could have come out a year after Heartwork. My first impression was shock that they have lost no aggression whatsoever over the many years since their heyday. As usual, one of my personal guitar heroes, Bill Steer, is true to form. Very cool riffs and excellent solos. Walker's vocals sound the same as always surprisingly. For a lifetime Carcass fan like me, this album does not disappoint at all. I hope that it has great success, and they make more. The world could always use a little more Carcass. \m/