Thursday 30 September 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Carcass, "Torn Arteries"

 By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/09/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Torn Arteries” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Torn Arteries (4:00)
2. Dance Of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 In B) ADM (4:29)
3. Eleanor Rigor Mortis (4:14)
4. Under The Scalpel Blade (3:55)
5. The Devil Rides Out (5:22)
6. Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited (9:42)
7. Kelly's Meat Emporium (3:23)
8. In God We Trust (3:57)
9. Wake Up And Smell The Carcass - Caveat Emptor (4:36)
10. The Scythe's Remorseless Swing (5:20)

The Review:  

Carcass have cooked up another post-reformation full length following on from 2013's rather great “Surgical Steel”. This time around, we still have Walker and Steer at the helm(s) and as the title track kicks in, this comes out of the gate like a straight up death metal record. The sound is good, the mix is good, the song titles are good. The record was worked upon at a few separate studios. James Atkinson of Gentlemens Pistols fame did a particularly good job with the guitars at The Stationhouse studio in Leeds; crisp, cutting and weighty. How about the material?

The title track is a great start- catchy, to an extent, with some blasts, some great riffs and the usual lyrical sturm and drang you would expect. “Dance of Ixtab” is slower paced, features a cowbell and some pretty righteous rock n roll grooving. I'll admit straight away that I am a huge fan of “Heartwork”-era Carcass and that I am not a fan, really in any way, of material preceding “Necroticism”. Thus, I can venture the notion that I am a fan of death metal Carcass and not the grind incarnation. Sacrilege to some, I know.

As such, this record is a musical treat for me. It's not as extreme as “Surgical Steel” and not as melodic per se as “Heartwork”. Instead, it is a good mix of death metal- done in the Carcass style- and almost hard rock songwriting.

While there are tracks like “Eleanor Rigor Mortis” and “Under The Scalpel Blade” which sound much more accessible than you might expect from the titles, there are also some real death metal gems sprinkled throughout- and even within some of the more straightforward songs. Some of the tempos and changes are resurrected from “Heartwork” here and there, too.

As the album progresses, there is plenty of chugging riffage, plenty of neck snapping grooves and plenty of skill in making this hang together as a good collection of songs. I suppose the real question here is where Carcass fit into the current death metal landscape. The genre progressed, stagnated, and diversified in equal measure after 1993 and now, I have to say, there is only one band in the genre that sounds like this. In that regard, they are akin to Obituary from across the pond- a band in a league of one. The sound is instantly recognisable and really is different from the multitude of blast and growl merchants out there. On that basis, Carcass are in a solid position to appeal to old fans, while also having a chance of being picked out by new converts.

It would not be unkind to say that some songs stick more than others; I found that “The Devil Rides Out” did not stand out particularly, but just around the corner is an acoustic intro and a roling groove for “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited”- there is variety here for sure, particularly as this one clocks in at over nine and a half minutes! Steer's style of riffing is also instantly familiar, which helps for memorability and accessibility.

 At ten tracks, it is not overlong and the band ring enough changes to keep the listener interested throughout. As noted, if you are not too keen on one track, then you may well like the next and so on. It's not front loaded either, “In God We Trust” recalls the riffing of “Corporeal Jigsore Quandary” and is thus a winner. It's dissimilar to “Surgical Steel”- and a lot more playful, to these ears at least.

By the time of closer “The Scythe's Remorseless Swing”, I think most listeners will have made up their minds. It's a great track and a stand out on the album. It's surprisingly accessible without going full “Swansong” and the songs overall are at least decent. Time will tell where it sits in comparison to “Heartwork” and “Surgical Steel”, but this is a solid entry into their death metal canon and there is plenty to enjoy here- not least that the band are still around and still writing quality music.

“Torn Arteries” is available HERE

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