CARCASS - Surgical Steel (NUCLEAR BLAST - LP 2013)
So… they are really back for good. Something, what at first seemed to be nothing more, but just a series of gigs turned into more serious thing and Carcass – with new line up – has recorded their first album since 1996. For sure it is a great event, even if you may not usually like such reunions… but this is Carcass – legend of grind / death metal! You cannot be unconcerned, when speaking about this band. Obviously many people will be very sceptical towards “Surgical Steel”; many will question the sense of doing this album and there will be also a group of people, who will always say that Carcass has done it just for money and the music sucks – and they will say so, even without listening to a single song off the album and without reading any interviews with Bill Steer or Jeff Walker. And sure, such worries can be explained, as you know… there was a reason why Carcass did split up back then. They simply lost interest in playing extreme music, in death metal… so why now? Personally I may have been also slightly sceptical if “Surgical Steel” will be least as good as “Heartwork” and definitely I hoped that Carcass will not do an album similar to “Swansong”, because that would have been a disaster… Luckily first listen of “Surgical Steel” erased all my worries and I greeted the return of the gods with joy and pleasure.
But speaking about Carcass isn’t easy. There’s always a problem of their past achievements and the legendary albums, which this band did 20 years ago or more. And one of the problems will be the fact that almost every album was different to the previous one and so there will be fans, who only like Carcass from their first two LPs and there will be those, who’re into “Necroticism” and some, who enjoyed the melody of “Heartwork” the most. So, nowadays it would be impossible for Carcass to pleasure everyone with “Surgical Steel”, because there are many fans and they all have different preferences… But let’s be honest – it would be also just stupid to expect that Steer and Walker will record an album similar to “Reek of Putrefaction”! Definitely though the expectations were high for “Surgical Steel” and it is only everyone’s taste if this new album will speak to him and please enough. So far I have read several reviews and they all have been very positive, so the more I was eager to hear “Surgical Steel” myself and give it an opinion. Once I got the LP, I started to listen to it… and yeah… this is it. For me this is classic Carcass, just as I remember this band from the 90’s and what I liked them for. It almost feels like the time has stopped and the band just toured for “Heartwork” and “Swansong” never happened, so “Surgical Steel” is the fifth album… you know, Walker’s vocals are unchanged – which is great, as I love his shrieking voice – and the music is very alike, with similar aggression, energy and melody. Personally I love all their early LPs, but “Necroticism” is my favourite, then I also worship the early period of Carcass, but I also really, really like “Heartwork”… and you know, “Surgical Steel” for me sounds like albums number three and four putted together… Sure, it is mainly similar to “Heartwork”, because of many melodic parts and almost lack of grinding speed, not to mention that “Surgical Steel” hasn’t got a trace of that harshness and dirt nor that sheer brutality, which you can find on the first three albums. Other than that there are many classic ingredients, which were always characteristic for Carcass and were always making their music sound special. I already mentioned these killer vocals of Jeff Walker, who still sounds incredibly angry and impressive. Even if I didn’t know it’s Carcass LP, I would instantly recognize not only his vocals, but also that trademark style of riffing, melodies, some excellent blasting parts or even dual vocals, which appear here and there. Some will moan that lack of Michael Amott is hearable – but that for me is bullshit, as Bill Steer recorded here some incredibly good guitar leads and melodies. OK, I won’t fool you – there are maybe two or three songs, like “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills”, which I don’t like so much and I wouldn’t cry, if they were not on the album. At these moments Carcass sounds too much like Arch Enemy for me hehe. But at the same time there are such killer tracks as “Captive Bolt Pistol”, which was the first single, announcing “Surgical Steel”, and really blew my head off from the first listen. It is just as good as any old Carcass classic and I can put it next to “No Love Lost” or “Heartwork” (best Carcass song ever!). It has killer riffs and is so aggressive, so damn fast at places that it is just awesome. There are also such songs like “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”, “The Master Butcher’s Apron”, “316L Grade Surgical Steel” – and they all are just bloody good, in my opinion. For such tracks “Surgical Steel” is worthy to be listened to and they only prove that the return of Carcass is just truly welcome and the album is totally recommendable. “The Master Butcher’s Apron” is especially awesome, after “Captive Bolt Pistol” it is my favourite song, for the intensity, speed and great riffs. And that surgical precision of execution… spotless.
So yeah, there’s some good stuff on “Surgical Steel” and I really think that the fans of (90’s era) Carcass should all like it. Except couple of songs, the album is just really damn good and it sounds like a right continuation of “Heartwork”. Stop being sceptical then and enjoy this music! From my side I can only complain on one thing – I hate how Nuclear Blast has released the vinyl. And no, I don’t really care if they released 20 different colour versions of the LP, because I don’t think it is important – and more so, I definitely don’t care what colour my LP is and how limited it is. I just don’t like the idea that they decided to force this album into two LPs. Why the hell? It could easily have been squeezed into one LP and that would be better, at least the listen would be more comfortable and smooth. But NO; they decided to make a double LP edition… uurrrghhh… shit. Other than that, I had a great listen and can only welcome Carcass back, hopefully for good and not just for this one LP!
Standout tracks: “Captive Bolt Pistol”, “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”, “The Master Butcher’s Apron”, “316L Grade Surgical Steel”
Final rate: 73/100