It feels like an age has passed since the last Carcass record was released to world, 1996’s ‘Swansong’ feels like a distant memory. Since their reformation in 2007 extreme metal fans have craved a new studio record from the pioneers of both grindcore and melodic death metal. Now, in 2013 we are treated with a brand new Carcass record entitled ‘Surgical Steel’, will this new record further reinforce Carcass’ chokehold on extreme metal or has time been unforgiving?
When it comes down to the musical style of Carcass it’s difficult to establish one single genre; their early records were very much aligned to grindcore where as both ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Swansong’ both established the sound of melodic death metal. One thought that did indeed cross my mind was what genre was ‘Surgical Steel’ going to fall under, Carcass have more than likely noticed this dilemma and responded with the best possible outcome.
‘Surgical Steel’ can be described as a combination of both musical styles. For example tracks like ‘316 L Grade Surgical Steel’ combines the crushing riffs associated with grindcore and nice intricate solo work as seen in melodic death metal. Yet on occasion individual tracks themselves tend to go for one preference over another; for example ‘Thrasher’s Abattoir’ is built around the musical style of grindcore through powerful rapid riffs and snarling vocals where as ‘Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard’ is built around melodic death metal with intricate guitar solos and complex riffs. The effect it adds a nice balance of pace, consistently changing throughout to ensure the listener is fully engrossed in the music.
This leads to another incredibly strong aspect of ‘Surgical Steel’, the sheer musical talent present on this record. The combination of both Jeff Walker and Bill Steer’s vocals are gritty and rasp from start to finish; just what to expect from Carcass. Despite Michael Amott leaving Carcass in 2012 the lead guitar work provided by Bill Steer shines sheer quality. the combination of solos and intricate guitar play are excellent and creative where as Dan Wilding’s drumming technique provides excellent rhythm and ensures there is no break from the carnage. Time clearly hasn’t hindered Carcass’ musical talent in any aspect.
As previously mentioned ‘Surgical Steel’ is a blend of both styles Carcass are known for and one fear I had upon first listening was the production standard. As Carcass’ period of making grindcore music was usually accompanied with poor production value I feared this pattern would continue with ‘Surgical Steel’. Thankfully, the production on this new record, provided by Colin Richardson, is brilliant which effectively makes this record so very enjoyable to listen to indeed.
17 years on from ‘Swansong’ and 25 years since their debut ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ Carcass are still going on strong, showcasing why they are considered to be such a heavyweight in extreme metal. ‘Surgical Steel’ is brilliant from start to finish, shining in sheer musical quality and thus is a incredibly strong contender for album of the year. This is the record extreme metal fans have been craving for in 2013.