Carcass started as a band steeped in Gore lyrics and Grindcore philosophies. As they aged, more Death started to creep into their sound, and even more importantly, Melodic twin leads. This drove some early fans away but won legions more who found a new champion. They released a few albums in the 90s to critical and fan acclaim, only to go their separate ways for over a decade. The band never really broke up but never really stayed together, either. After 17 years, they returned with an epic, and some would say career-defining album, Surgical Steel. This led to years of touring and playing around the world. Now the long revered and legendary Death Metal band have decided to bring in the new decade with an EP of songs that apparently didn’t make the cut for their upcoming album release. The band still liked these songs, though, and decided to put them out as a teaser/taster of what is to come. Called Despicable, the four tracks featured here are everything that the fans love about Carcass, all rolled-up into an easily digestible little collection of shred-tastic fun.
Opener “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” hits straight-away with those twin, melodic guitar runs. The licks so sweet and tasty they melt in your mouth like cotton candy. While you’re savoring the sugar, they rip into a run of riffs and battery that remind you just how nasty they can be, too. Right off they show their horror roots (the song named after an awesome early 70s zombie flick) as a way to remind the people that they haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from. The mid-paced, thrashy beginning soon gives way to a whirl of speed and terror. In one song, Carcass has managed to touch on everything that makes them so beloved.
“The Long and Winding Bier Road” comes next. The playful song-title nod to The Beatles contains absolutely nothing Beatles-like, of course, but it does have some more sweet melodies and more chunk n’ roll. There’s a tumbling feel to this one, like you’re rolling down a hill in a cemetery, hoping you don’t bust your head on a tombstone. This one pretty much occupies a mid-pace chug zone, with some guitar heroics to add some flash.
Third song “Under the Scalpel Blade” is an older cut (get it?) added to this collection. It is the most concise of the tracks here, starting with attitude and a bit of speed before slowing to grind-and-crush for a bit. It quickly builds up speed and the riffs almost become literal scalpel blades, slashing at your face in a whirling frenzy. The song goes back and forth between the crunch and the speed, always keeping your ears guessing.
EP closer “Slaughtered in Soho” starts almost elegantly, delicate melodic leads twining together to create a frilly intro. But don’t worry, the sinister is always there, lurking beneath the surface. A little bit of cowbell leads us into the chorus, and sweet that cowbell and chorus both are. This one is a shambling, lurching hulk of pretty melody set on top of a rotting corpse of Death. This is the most commercial song on this collection, and when I say “commercial,” I mean catchy.
Not sure why these excellent tracks won’t make it on the upcoming full release. I suppose they don’t fit thematically or something like that. Mostly, I don’t care why, I’m just glad we get them at all. These are good, solid songs, nothing fancy, just Carcass being Carcass. And while this might not be enough for fans that want to see a further evolution to their sound, it’s certainly more than enough to please old-timers like me. More of this, please. Can’t wait for the new album when it comes out next year.
Four Buckets of Blood out of Four
Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews. He likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website: www.kellymhudson.comor on Amazon