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Compared to the predecessor which were much more dark and creepy, Heartwork punches you in the face in a much more straight forward style.
When you think melodic death metal, names like Children of Bodom and Arch Enemy will probably pop into your mind. And the idea of death metal blended with clean vocals and keyboards. Wipe out those thoughts, because Heartwork is the album that shows how melodic death metal should be done. With hair on the chest and a firm grip around the balls and of course the snarling vocals of Jeff Walker. Many Carcass fans hates this album and the following album Swansong that got released in '96, and that is a damn shame because this album is the bands best effort next to Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious. I have heard this album being called "a blueprint for selling out". It's more like a blueprint and a showcase of how melodic death metal should be played. Packed with aggression from the guitars, and the melodic solos of Amott fits well into the songs and so does Dr. Steers more aggressive solos. Ken Owen steps up yet again and after listening to the album a couple of times and learning the tracks so you know when he hits the crashes, it is just a fucking awesome feeling to smack the air at the same time! Or... your drums, if you're a drummer.
Lyrically the album is not as much about carving up stuff as it used to be. The album still got some really good song writing and a song that really struck me was 'Arbeit Macht Fleisch'. First of all I was wondering why Carcass was doing a song with a German title, but after talking about it with my friend we remembered that the Nazis used the term 'Arbeit Macht Frei', that term is also mentioned in the song. Speculations is that the lyrics of the songs are comparing modern society to a death camp. I don't know what to think myself, which leaves a great mystery about the song, and you can form your very own opinion. Besides 'Arbeit Macht Fleisch' this album is just filled with tracks you can listen to again and again. I would suggest Blind Bleeding the Blind, Embodiment and Doctrinal Expletives. But if you're not too lazy, it would be a better idea to listen to the whole album!
Some may think it is just filling for a review... But I always enjoy a good cover, and I like to talk about it, also when it is bad. I must admit that Carcass is not the band that I would mention first when I think about a band that got a line of awesome covers on the shelf. Heartwork is not really an exception. Even though it is not as horrible as the grindcore covers and Swansong. It still just strikes me as an odd cover to choose. The cover, or at least the sculpture on the cover was created by Hans Rudolf Giger, more commonly known as H. R. Giger. He also created works for bands like Celtic Frost, Danzig, Edge of Sanity and Triptykon.
Heartwork is a truly unique album. Even if you got the opinion that this album led to a sell out for Carcass this album clarified the bands legacy as legends. Pioneering grindcore and melodic death metal, now that is an achievement. With the rumours of a new Carcass record I really hope it will contain some elements from Heartwork. Now that Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandsson is not in the band any more, Carcass could return to their harder roots and mix it up with a bit of Necroticism.
But if you enjoy snarling vocals, and a fast assault with melodic elements you should definitely try out the album, and even if you don't know this band, give it a shot anyway! Maybe you have stayed away from Heartwork because of the negative feelings there is regarding melodic death metal, maybe you should think again and give it a chance...