It’s been over thirty years since Liverpudlian grindcore bastards Carcass left people gagging to the gloriously gory cover of debut album Reek of Putrefaction (Earache) and reeling to the twenty-two charmingly immature blasts of vomitous noise dripping inside. Symphonies of Sickness delivered improved musicianship and longer songs, Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious and its divisive follow up, Heartwork, continued that trend but the run ended in 1996 with the rather lacklustre Swansong. Rebooted and reinvigorated (but sadly minus drummer Ken Owen due to health issues), Carcass returned with a bang in 2013 with Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records) and now, after a gap of eight years, they’re back. Again.
After The Used called upon fans to submit videos last month of their frontline fighters as part of a very special project sharing “Every day you wake up and leave your loved ones to fight to keep us safe. We want to showcase them in our new music video.” Today, the band has unveiled the music video for “The Lighthouse (feat. Mark Hoppus)” featuring Nurses, Doctors, First Responders, Gas Station Attendants, Grocery Store Clerks, Delivery People, and other Essential Workers as well as members of The Used and Mark Hoppus at home with their families. Fans can watch the heartwarming video today at the link below. The Used just released their new album Heartwork earlier this month (read our review here). BigNoiseContinue reading
While everyone is talking about one particular emo band making a comeback in 2020, there has been one band that has been consistent since 2002, The Used. The Ohioans are as relevant now as they were in 2004 and are here to deliver their eighth album Heartwork (Big Noise), produced by John Feldmann (Goldfinger), the album is packed with style—a quick blast of energy and intense rhythm. The album has many guest appearances that will become classic staples. Continue reading
Carcass didn’t invent death metal, but they helped perfect it. The didn’t ascend to the pantheon of the death and goregrind genres overnight either. Their earlier work, especially their debut Reek of Putrefaction, Symphonies of Sickness, and Tools of The Trade and a few EP’s were all growers. The band had a penchant of shifting genres and styles within songs and albums, owing to their talent, but displeasing some of the more ardent fans. They likely didn’t think about this or even discuss it, just musically going wherever the evil spirits guided at the time. This kept their growing fan base agitated, but interested to see what the band would do next in the burgeoning underground scene. So when Heartwork was unleashed on the world (Earache) in 1993, it seemed like all of these elements coalesced. Continue reading
For most Metal fans, the 2016 Slayer, Testament, and Carcass tour may just “reign” as one of the year’s greatest, as the month-long North American excursion not only includes two Thrash Metal titans, but also marks the first outing in many years for the legendary Carcass.
Since 1985, Carcass’ raw-edged aural assault has ignited Metal fans and influenced scores of bands. With six albums under the band’s belt, the most recent being 2013’s critically acclaimed Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast), Carcass are set to shred with stateside performances starting on February 22.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Carcass’ lead guitarist Bill Steer about the tour, as well as Carcass’ musical legacy, and he was kind enough to share some details.
First I’d like to talk your upcoming Slayer and Testament tour – how did this all come about and why tour now?
“Well, it’s probably surprising to learn the tour was initiated by agents talking to each other! The word reached us that there was a possibility we could play on this tour, and we couldn’t say no—if it was anybody else, we would have said no, but Slayer was the one band in our minds in this area of Metal music that we feel we could tour with without upsetting the audience!”
“We’ve seen Testament several times live, and have done festivals with them, but the touring thing has not happened before, so it’s going to be interesting for us—we’re not sure how accepting audiences will be of us, but it will be quite fresh for us as well.”
Can we expect a follow-up to Surgical Steel any time soon? And if so, how will the music differ from that album or other previously recorded efforts?
“Hmm, interesting question, really, because the new music will have to differ from the previous record to a degree, because you have to feel like the music going forward. With Surgical Steel, we had the advantage where people didn’t know we were working on an album until it came out, and expectations were low, which was great, because when the album came out, it was actually great, and it was surprising to many people.
When [Carcass vocalist and bassist] Jeff Walker and I get together and write music through, we’re going to have to walk a tight rope— writing music that’s identifiable, as well as breaking new ground.
We do have a couple of songs tucked away—the momentum just picked up, and at the start of last year, we got together and worked on a handful of tunes, and we’re excited with some of the things we were working on. When we have a quiet time this year, in 2016, we’ll look into the stuff more carefully. “
Quite honestly, Carcass are legendary and helped shape and hone a sound—do you ever think about the influence you’ve had on other Metal and Grind bands?
“I’d rather just “grind” on with what we do, because thinking too hard about your place in the scheme of things…. that’s just confusing and a distraction—and, you can’t really stop being self-critical. In my view, if you get self-satisfied, it leads to complacency. That’s not good for anyone in any genre. “
“Occasionally, people are very nice to say those things to us—about being legendary—and that’s good to hear, but you’re only as good as your last gig and your last album.”
Are there any Carcass albums or songs you’re particularly proud of?
“From the initial phase of the band, I’d have to pick the obvious, which is Heartwork. I remember quite clearly feeling really delighted with the sound we got on the album, as it was the first time we got anything we were looking for in the studio that coincided with really good writing. The music on that record…that’s the most pleasing stuff we did at that time. “
“I’m quite fond of the two song songs on Heartwork EP—they were bashed out pretty quickly. We had a couple of B-sides, and I’m quite fond of those. As for other stuff, well, I’m still pleased with Surgical Steel. I can critique it, but it feels like a big achievement since we had so much stacked against us—doing something most people wouldn’t like—but we overcame the obstacles, and I just like the stuff on the record—it’s a hell of an album.”
On the forthcoming Slayer tour, will your set list focus on newer Carcass music, or include some of the older stuff as well?
“I would say this is a different situation for us than when we were a headlining act, where a large chunk of the audience is familiar with our music. On a tour like this one with Slayer, there’s going to be so many people every night who don’t know anything about us, so we need to comprise a 30-minute set that is hard hitting…we’ll be chewing that one over. But, the set is probably going to lean more towards the middle period of the band and music from Surgical Steel.”
How do you feel Carcass has evolved musically and lyrically from album to album?
“The lyrics remain Jeff [Walker]’s 100 percent from my perspective—he gets very focused on something, and I think the lyrics he came up with on Surgical Steel were brilliant—easily the best to date.”
“The music thing is definitely more organic—I just have bunch of riffs, and we take them into the rehearsal space. Surgical Steel was quite straight forward. We hadn’t worked on Carcass material for so long, but we decided the music was going to have styles from all eras of the band. I was hearing some stuff that harkened back to the very early Carcass days, and it wasn’t out of place. It was a cool thing to do because looking back it made sense, it was quite harmonious, but any music we write now has got to move forward.”
Anything else Carcass fans can expect from the band this year?
“We’ve got a few festivals in the diary—I’d like to keep up our live chops, which means playing from time to time. I’d like to have a large chunk of rehearsal space time—if we’re going to make a new record, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”
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Easily the most anticipated tour in the USA this year, practically everyone I know that is a fan of metal was going to attend the 2014 Decibel Magazine sponsored tour to see Carcass. Oddly enough I know people who straight out dislike anything resembling death metal, but were still going to attend on the strength of the Carcass name alone. I know some scoff at the near mythological amount of praise heaped on Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast), even though it was the Ghost Cult 2013 album of the year (*cough cough*). Any way you slice it (bad pun intended), it is good to have them back, kicking ass, and going strong. The Paradise isn’t really a venue fit for metal on so many levels: from the awkward layout of the place, the inexperienced staff more used to indie rock fans, and clearly not ready drunk moshers, and stage divers. Most venues in Boston ignore the city-wide ban on moshing (WTF Boston!?!), but these guards were intimidated, overly cautious, and sometimes hapless. I felt a little bad for them, until they treated my friend and occasional Ghost Cult photog Hillarie Jason, and all the other photogs badly too. Sad that a club with the kind of history it has can’t rise up and better.
Nosiem: holy shit! They opened a can of whoopass on the entire Paradise. I really only listened to their Agony Defined (A389) album once or twice, and boy was I regretting it during their show. They were young and full of energy and immediately had the early crowd feeling wide open and angry. Lead screamer Tyler was mad impressive, running all over the cluttered stage. They were a loud unruly bunch, glorious young noise-makers who totally pumped up the already excited crowd. If I was under 20 again, they would be my favorite band.
Gorguts was up next and the Boston nerd-musician-Jazz hands kids quotient in the room rose significantly while the sperm count dipped to dangerous levels. Luc Lemay’s current incarnation of the band includes Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel from Dysrhythmia, with Patrice Hamelin on drums. It’s always like going to guitar school watching Luc play his mighty axe, and he sports his glasses on stage now, rocking a very professor-type feel to his demeanor. They did focus their short set list predominantly on the moody Colored Sands (Season of Mist) material, which left me a little flat. Thankfully they did an encore of their classic ‘Obscura’ which saved the day for me. Enjoyable, sure. But Gorguts is a band I really need to see play a longer, or headline set for me to really sink my teeth into.
Always a fun time, The Black Dahlia Murder, just hit the stage already seemingly full of sweat and smiles. As per usual Trevor Strnad just flew all over the place, raging hard and high—fiving everyone. He is one of my favorite performers to watch. Similar to Gorguts, they were short on time. However they did a nice job touching on some hits and a few cuts from last years’ Everblack (Metal Blade) album. The band sounded as tight as ever, and despite how much TBDM has toured the New England area, the room seemed to be enraptured by their set. They almost have an arena rock bigness to their shows, which seems unbelievable until you see them live. Ryan Knight in particular was amazing on guitar with a few sick solos, but the entire band continues to be exceptional and consistent year after year.
Despite their comeback US tour in 2009, I was surprised at how many people were seeing Carcass for the first time ever. It guess it owes as much to the latest generation of death metal fans coming up of late. There was a weird energy in the room like anything could happen, in a good way. Rather than watch the show from the crowd, I snagged a spot from the balcony so I could soak in the madness. There was already moshing and a few surfers testing the jumpy security before the first note was played. When the lights went down a roar went up like you wouldn’t believe. I will likely never forget the beautiful insanity of this crowd when ‘Buried Dreams’ from Heartwork kicked in. The miniscule Jeff Walker is like a living Chucky doll, since he is so small and evil. I kind of want to scoop him up and give him big a hug. Dan Wilding was immediately impressive at how perectly crushed on the drums. The early set mixed in Surgical Steel tracks with classic ones perfectly. The material certainly meshed well with the oldies, and since everybody and their mother had the new album, it was cool to hear many folks growling along.
Jeff is still quite the showman after 30 years in the business. Hilariously funny, with a wry sense of humor that is just a little too smart for most Americans, if I may disparage my own country for second. Still, everybody laughed when Jeff singled out a super- tall guy for blocking the view of a short-statured girl. Too funny for words. Of course a lot of people still grump about the absence of Michael Amott, who is no longer in the band, but I have to wonder why? Bill Steer was terrific and new guitarist Ben Ash was more than capable of creating the bands’ signature sound. Steer possesses on of the best guitar tones ever in metal. Naturally the band was flawless in its execution of their classic songs, like ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ and ‘Corporeal Jigsaw Quandary’. It was a pretty amazing night and a good time, leaving everyone satisfied and feeling like we just saw the best concert we will see in 2014.
Carcass Set List:
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
No Love Lost
The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
This Mortal Coil
Reek of Putrefaction
Unfit for Human Consumption
Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
Exhume to Consume
Captive Bolt Pistol
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Keep On Rotting in the Free World
Words by Keith Chachkes
Return of the titans has never had such an apt meaning than when applied to Carcass; if there’s a band that needs no introduction, it’s them. Propelled into the spotlight with Heartwork, they have enjoyed a virtually unparalleled place at the head of death metal since the early 90’s, despite their last release being seventeen years back. Now returning with fresh material in 2013, it’s hard not to be apprehensive. Replacing both Amott and Owen for fresher blood, they are virtually a different band.Continue reading