Carcass - Surgical Steel
Label: Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Álvaro Rodríguez Ortiz - 2013-08-03
Highlights: The Master Butcher's Apron, Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard, Captive Bolt Pistol
The first time I heard about the rumors of a uncoming Carcass album, I was freaking out. I’ve been a fan of Carcass since 2008, and I was always wondering and asking myself why they don’t release new stuff. The rumor became true when Carcass anounced this album, Surgical Steel, to be released in 2013’s summer. I was hoping to hear Bill Steer’s guitar solos, Michael Amott riffs, and of course, the carismatic voice of Jeff Walker...
Carcass is a legendary band from Liverpool, England. They have released legendary and essential albums in Death Metal, such as Heartwork and Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious, along with some Grindcore albums in their early days. The band was disbanded in 1995, and the members formed a few other bands (Jeff formed Blackstar, Michael Amott formed Arch Enemy and Bill Steer a rock band called Firebird). After a long time, in 2006, Jeff talked in several interviews the posibility of reforming Carcass (let’s remember that the original drummer, Ken Owen, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, making impossible to him to play drums like before. So they hired Daniel Erlandsson, Arch Enemy’s drummer, to fill the gap. The reformed line up of the band was complete. They started playing and touring all over the world, but a new album was something utopic, due Michael and Daniel’s concerts and albums with Arch Enemy.
In november of 2012, Jeff made a statement: Carcass was going to record it’s 6th album. According to Jeff Walker, they had a external push after watching Daniel Wilding playing drums, because his playing reminded of Ken Owen’s style. I was very excited, but this news had some problems: Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandsson had to leave Carcass, due to some inner problems and schedule problems. I was a bit pissed off, because I though Carcass sound was coming from Amott. Oh boy, I was very wrong. Carcass’ Surgical Steel is the 6th album of the band. The band suffered a second reforming, and the line-up end up as Jeff Walker (voice, bass), Bill Steer (guitars and voice) and Daniel Wilding playing drums. If we see carefully the artwork, it has a resemblance with Carcass’ Heartwork cover. I do think this is a state of intent (In several interviews you can search on Internet, Jeff Walker said that this album was the missing link between Heartwork and Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious) and he’s right. This is the missing link, but at the same time, it’s a whole new world for Carcass by itself.
We had the chance to listen to a song before the whole album was leaked, Captive Bolt Pistol (it was in a free CD that came in a German magazine), and everyone was super excited about it. A few weeks ago, Carcass uploaded a YouTube teaser of the album. And finally, it is leaked, so let’s review it (I have to say, I was very skeptic about the whole album, due the new members, but I was wrong...). The album is more or less 46 minutes long, and it has 11 songs. It was mixed by Andy Sneap (and he did a terrific job, by the way), and it was financed independently as they had no label backing at the time. I really like when bands release very short albums, and they don’t add shitty songs to cover the 15 track ratio. This album is super solid, all the songs are perfectly produced and with no flaws. After listening to it a couple times, you feel like there are no bad songs in this album. Not aditional songs to reach the 15 track ratio. The album starts with 1985. This song is instrumental, and you can hear multiple guitar layers, made in Bill Steer. I was wrong, Bill Steer is “the sound” of Carcass. The wah part it’s amazing, by the way. You get gosebumps as the track goes by, because you know the heavy stuff is going to start...
Next song it’s Thrasher’s Abbatoir, and... SURPRISE!, Jeff’s vocals are the same now than in other albums. This song is super short, around 2 minutes, and it’s very fast. It’s a mix between grindcore and death metal. And it’s surprising that in a very short song, there’s a very good solo on it. After that song, Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System hits you in the face. Compared to Thrasher’s Abbatoir, it’s more melodic, specially in the guitar leads. Jeff’s long screams are very impressive, it’s very good that he had taked care of his voice all over the years. The classic Carcass breakdown is there: Bill playing long octaves on guitar while Jeff continues singing. The solos on this song are brilliantly accompanied with really heavy guitar riffs. The end is super sick, with a very good performance on drums by Daniel Wilding.
Next song is A Congealed Clot Of Blood, and the main riff could be part of a missing song of Necroticism with no doubt. The chorus is pure classic Carcass, the guitar tempo is slow, playing octaves, while Jeff continues growling. There’s a guitar interlude on the middle of the song, just before the solo starts. This solo is very melodic, very Ammot-ish, and then the heavy part hits you again.
The Master Butcher's Apron is a very fast song at the beggining, and it’s actually one of my favorites. The best songs of the album are in the middle, at least in my personal preference. This song has a super groovy riff, one of the best riffs of the album. The mix between the riffs and Jeff’s vocals is sick.
Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard (sick name o.O) starts with a very melodic guitar line, and then it progresses into a really fast blast-beat part. The chorus and the main riff in this song is very similar to The Master Butcher’s Apron, and the fact the whole song goes though different time signatures and speeds adds more variety to the song. The solo has Bill’s signature, very long bends and ends up with a fast lick. The song has another guitar breakdown, with a very chunky and heavy riff, accompanied with a really good drum beat. After that, the second solo streaks again, and it has the Bill’s signature (again). I do think Bill is one of the most underrated guitar players in Extreme Metal.
The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills it’s next, and it starts with a melodic guitar line; then the drums and bass start playing, and we have a sorta solo on it, before the song goes crazy. This song, compared to the previous ones, has a slower tempo, but the brutality of Jeff’s voice and the down tuning guitars of Bill are still there. The guitar solo in this song it’s pure rock, but of course, it has been accelerated to follow the drums, but then we have a mid tempo lick. Variety is the key to success!
Unfit For Human Consumption comes right next after the previous song, without time to breathe, and it starts with a super catchy riff. After a couple minutes, the tempo accelerates, and the guitar riff too. Then a sweep picking solo hits you in the face. With no time to breathe, the song accelerates even more, with blast-beats on drums, really fast guitars and super harsh vocals. I really want to remark the double bass drums in this song, it’s killer.
316 L Grade Surgical Steel starts with a super catchy down tuned hard rock riff. That riff could have been part of a Thin Lizzy’s song, but no, it’s in a Carcass album. The chorus remarks the main guitar line with some background power chords. After the solo, we have a incredibly heavy, yet simplistic riff going on. The song ends with a really good line sang by Jeff, super catchy.
Captive Bolt Pistol, the released single, could have been part of Heartwork with no doubt. This could have been a second Heartwork, or a second No Love Lost. This song is pure Heartwork Carcass. Super fast riffs, super fast drums, and insane vocals. A fucking classic, and this is going to make insane mosh pits live, I can promise you that. The fucking guitar solo is super technical, and I fucking love it.
The last song of the album is Mount Of Execution, which is the longest one. It starts with a very long instrumental part (if we compare it to the other songs). This song is a perfect recap for the whole album, and a great way to finish it.
If we compare this album to the previous ones, this is maybe slower, but still full of epic songs, and really heavy tunes. And I really like the fact Nuclear Blast is going to release it on tape, like if we were in 1985. Also, the special version with the aid-kit, limited to 666 copies it’s amazing, and I’m sure it’s going to dissapear very quickly. I though (well, more than though, I was hoping) that the best album of the year was going to be Deafheaven’s Sunbather. But it’s really hard, if such a legend like Carcass, that they haven’t put out a bad album, NEVER, was going to release one album the same year as them. And there’s still a personal highlight this year, Ulver’s new album, and I can’t wait to listen to it. This album is a statement. Carcass is back. They never changed. They are still the same. Enjoy the Carcass, and see you soon in JorZine