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Motivated by the welcome news that after a lengthy layoff, grindcore godfathers and death metal legends Carcass are set to release a new album later this summer, I decided to revisit some of their impressive back catalog, the centerpiece of which is arguably the groundbreaking “Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious”. Stylistically split between the band’s grindcore roots and the melodic death metal they fully implemented on “Heartwork”, “Necroticism” forms the perfect middle ground between the band’s older and later work.
Does that mean it is the ideal album for Carcass newbies to check out the band and become familiar with their sound? No, it does not, as “Necroticism” is in many ways an odd record, as odd as a blend between two rather contrasting styles like grindcore and melodic death metal may sound to those who haven’t heard it. At the same time, herein lies the charm with Carcass’ masterpiece: it sounds like absolutely no other death metal album out there (yes, it has spawned its fair share of imitators, none of which came remotely close to matching its brilliance) and it is very demanding upon the listener, but when you take the time to really digest and decipher it, you will be rewarded with one of the very best extreme metal albums ever written.
Musically, there’s so much going on here that I don’t even know where to begin. This is an extremely intricate, multi-layered and technical album featuring countless tempo changes, a boatload of crushing yet insanely catchy riffs, lots of melodic guitar leads, plenty of memorable solos and even two singers, with guitarist Bill Steer’s ultra-low gurgling and bassist Jeff Walker’s raspy growling perfectly complementing each other. (On a side note, “perfect” is an attribute you may encounter frequently in this review.)
Tempo-wise, with the possible exception of “Lavaging Expectorate…”, which stays on the slow side throughout its duration, the album sees the band constantly and seamlessly switching between varying speeds, never maintaining the same tempo for very long. While this may pose a problem for some listeners at first, it also makes this record much more intriguing in the long run. Special mention goes to drummer Ken Owen, whose blast beats are arguably among the most impressive you will hear in extreme metal.
As for the riffing, the band is firing on all cylinders here, churning out one amazing riff after the other; take “Carneous Cacoffiny”, for instance: there are enough riffs crammed into this almost seven-minute long monster of a song for lesser bands to fill entire albums with. But it’s not just the sheer quantity that’s astounding, it’s also that many of those riffs will stick in your head forever. Perhaps even more remarkable is that due to the band’s superb songwriting skills, the album never seems like a chaotic jumble of disjointed ideas – everything is in the right place, everything is used to maximum effect and it all simply makes sense. Rounded off by the melodic lead work and virtuosic soloing courtesy of Steer and fellow axeman Michael Amott, who brings a decidedly Swedish sense of melody to the table, the guitar work on “Necroticism” is absolutely stellar, and the production’s massive guitar tone certainly helps in that regard.
Aside from the actual music on “Necroticism”, however, what really makes it the classic it is rightfully regarded as today is that it stands as a complete work of art, from the instantly recognizable photograph on the cover right down to the lyrics. Carcass once again delved deep into their medical dictionaries and the stories relayed here are delightfully distasteful and perhaps entirely too gruesome for some of the more sensitive types out there. Yet at the same time, it’s all so over the top and delivered in such a tongue-in cheek manner that you can’t help but laugh about the absurdity of it all. I mean, the adhesives industry using human body parts for their products, which are then consumed by glue sniffers around the world (“Incarnated Solvent Abuse”)? A mentally deranged composer disinterring corpses, then using the decayed remains to build musical instruments on which to play his latest masterpiece (“Carneous Cacoffiny”)? A mass-murdering lunatic manufacturing dog food from the dismembered bodies of his victims and feeding it to his pets (“Pedigree Butchery”)? Nice, very nice. Oh, and did I mention that the solos are even given names in the booklet?
Another noteworthy aspect are the spoken-word intros to most of the songs, which are basically sound bites of pathologists talking about bodies in varying stages of decomposition. They add a nice little wrinkle to the album, enhancing the atmosphere the music and lyrics try to convey.
In conclusion, “Necroticism” is a complex maelstrom of ideas, a rare work of genius, a truly unique and nearly flawless masterpiece the likes of which come around only once every so often. It is not easy to fully grasp and takes a while to get into, but once you do, you will surely realize how absolutely essential it really is.
Choicest cuts: “Inpropagation”, “Pedigree Butchery”, “Incarnated Solvent Abuse”, “Carneous Cacoffiny”
The album in the middle, out of Carcass' five releases where they genre-wise kind of change from each album, this is what I would call the definitive Carcass album. As the band is widely known for their melodic death metal and grindcore this album takes part in death metal, and it does it fucking right. Most of the tracks on the album got a little introduction with some people talking, on some it is for example pathologists. I don't know whether these sound clips are from a movie or something the band had specially recorded for the album. Either way it is something I find crucial in some way for the record. Instead of recognizing the starting riff of a song you might recognize a conversation between some pathologists talking about assembling decomposed bodies, or something else...
Since this is the first album to feature Michael Amott, it can easily be heard that he has joined since his solos are more melodic than Dr. Steers. Maybe it was the arrival of Amott that became the reason why the band got "softer" and maybe not, but if Carcass had just released grindcore albums I think they would just have been a flash in the pan, and not seen as the legends they are today, whether you like melodic death metal or not. Unlikely for Carcass, the album also feature the longest songs the band ever released, going all the way up to 7 minutes. When you listen to some bands and their longer songs you can hear it right away because you get bored, but it is not like that on Nercroticism. There is two tracks that lasts over seven minutes and they don't seem that long, the first time I looked and saw it lasted that long, I was like "huh... doesn't feel like that", so the tracks are not boring. Far from, and that goes for the whole album!
"Death is no escape..."
For the album cover the band thankfully chose another direction compared to their two first efforts. I never really liked the gore covers to be honest, I can't see the cool thing in them... They are just ugly and meaningless. As seen, this cover features a pathologists having some hammer smashing fun with a photo of the band. It's not really a spectacular photo, the bands name is not even eye popping. A pretty 'meh' cover, and I really think this album deserves a better cover. But to face the fact, Carcass just never were good at covers.
There is not really any songs I would like to pick out from the album, even though there are songs that stand higher than others. If I recommended two-three songs you would be wanting more, so go through the whole record. It is something you won't regret, since this death metal album is a jigsore that has been perfectly aligned and assembled.
Suffering a particularly bad case of the Baron Munchausen's, I allow myself to be coaxed back into the tender mercies of Liverpool's limber-fingered lanceteers. For many Carcass fans, "Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious" will be our Fearsome Foursome's finest hour - by 1991, Carcass had expanded to a quartet - where the balance of technical mastery, production, brass-necked cheek, brutal and aggressive delivery, and the sheer joy in going where no sane human being had gone before (and few have ventured since) was achieved and maintained consistently over an entire album. Earlier albums have more flow and sparking electricity, and "Reek of Putrefaction" will always be my personal favourite for its filthy sound and the improvised nature of the slipshod music that barely holds together, but compared to the album under review they can be uneven and erratic, and the production on them does blunt the band's full brutal force.
"Inpropagation" leads off in full majestic force and sets the standard for the rest of the album to follow with cheeky and inspired lyrics that, interpreted one way, might be a sarcastic comment on how people's lives and bodies literally are sacrificed for money and profits. The music is dense and suffocating with deliriously sick lead guitar solo melodies, passages where Ken Owen's pulverising drums take your brain to another level of trance-like zombiedom and Walker's deranged slavering vocals. The next few tracks are more business-like in sheer brutal guitar battery, Bill Steer and Mike Amott trading riffs and solo breaks, Owen coming into his own as a capable drummer able to lead and support the others, and Walker's bass somehow managing to keep up with the sheer force of the music while he's singing the convoluted lyrics. "Pedigree Butchery" continues in similar vein rhythmically though Steer's lead guitar is allowed to run away at times with nauseous tones; the lyrics on the other hand are a hilarious summary of how people and pigs can form the tightest of tight-knit ecological cycles. (Coincidentally or maybe not so, I'm writing this review at the same time two news articles involving pigs exploded across the Internet: one involved a hapless Oregon farmer and his 700-pound porkers, the other about a man in Tasmania, Australia, who helped a friend get rid of a murder victim's body using ... pigs.) Of course, in some contexts, "pigs" can mean some other kind of animal, not necessarily of the four-legged kind ...
"Incarnated Solvent Abuse" is a strong track boasting more riffs, changes of pace, guitar melodies and variations in rhythm than it deserves to - but heck, this is Carcass, who are famous for packing in riffs and melodies into the one song like they're all going out of fashion! "Carneous Cacoffiny" features an unusually laid-back and swanky rhythm over which lyrics that describe how every part of a human body is made into a musical instrument; Steer himself seems impressed with Walker's efforts as his solos take on a jaunty, frilly air. A weird kind of virtuosic romanticism, sort of reminiscent of 19th century Romantic composers dying for their art as they strove to create impossible concertos while wracked with hacking tubercular coughs, hovers over this track.
There are indeed filler pieces on this album but the standard across eight songs is very good and even lesser tracks like "Lavaging Expectorate of Lysergic Acids" (oh, spit!) have catchy groove rhythms. On all songs, the band plays as an almost organic whole with no-one player flagging behind. There is plenty of space for Steer to take off on flights of shrill if sickening guitar fancy and Amott gets a few lead breaks as well. Towards the end there is an indication of the musical direction Carcass were to take on "Heartwork" with the guitars forming a solid impenetrable attack force, very martial and stiff and not to my liking at all. While most songs have lyrics revolving around dismemberment of cadavers and the joy therein to be found, the more interesting lyrics in tracks like "Inpropagation" involve exploiting human flesh and body parts for profit or plain self-centred greed.
This review was originally written for http://www.MetalNeverLies.com
Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991) is definitely... interesting to say the least. I couldn't tell you what the name of the album means, and I'd be willing to bet that you couldn't either without using a medical dictionary. There is a lot to say about this CD. First of all, it was released in 1991 – which was a great year for the world of death metal. Second of all, this CD was released between two very influential albums one of which is Gore/Grind and the other of which is Melodic Death Metal, but it's style is stuck somewhere between the two. Carcass had such a unique style on this album, and that is one of the reasons that this release is so enjoyable.
Carcass decided to include spoken audio tracks at the start of some of the songs on this CD. They're pretty cool and sometimes add a lot to the tone and feeling of the song, but some of them seem forced. This isn't a big deal, but it definitely is a cool approach that could've probably been handled slightly better. For the record, the spoken audio tracks at the beginning of the first and second songs are the ones that are pulled off the best. “Inpropagation” is the first song, and it's amazing. The drum work fits brilliantly with the brutal riffs. The guitars have a certain tone all throughout the album: they sound as if they're grinding down skeletons with their riffage. Maybe not, it's hard to explain, but it's definitely a cool tone that adds a lot to the music. The vocal approach is grotesque in the best possible way anything could be described as such. There are plenty of guitar solos for everyone in these epically long and brutal songs. “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” is the next song, and wow, it's relentless. The pounding drum beat at the beginning is more than enough to get me pumped. Also, both in the first song, this song, and just about every song to follow, the riffs are actually catchy and you will notice a slight turn toward melodicness which really adds a lot of interesting parts into this CD.
Most songs are similar on this album, but another stand-out track is “Carneous Cacoffiny” and the reason this track stands out to me is because it's borderline creepy. Let me explain, this song is about writing a masterpiece of music played on strings made from human remains. When I listen to this song, I feel as if the band actually went out and murdered somebody and then proceeded to craft an instrument from their corpse, and they are recording the song with that corpse-instrument. Just, the solos and melodic riffs sound like the guitarist is saying “Look at me, I'm playing this on a corpse-guitar!” I don't know, it creeps me out sometimes, but that's a good thing because it adds more to the music.
Moving on, “Lavaging Expectorate of Lysergide Composition” is the shortest track at four minutes, then the album finishes up with “Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article” - which is a great ending song for a great CD. I can't really describe all the feelings that this CD gives me. It's creepy, yet at the same time catchy and highly headbangable. That's all I can really tell you, you'll have to hear this album for yourself. Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991) is definitely a classic, and arguable Carcass's best work. If you're looking for something new to listen to, I'd definitely recommend giving this a listen.
Carcass: sweet Satan below what can be said that hasn’t already been said about Carcass? Holding an unassailable position as the kings of deathly grind, this is a group that has both redefined and exemplified the music with a sickly cloud of rot and odorous decay hanging about it. Certainly, they are one of the few who deserve the endless bloody rain of praise poured down upon – their influence on the modern melodic death scene and the murky confines of the grindcore underworld is utterly irrefutable.
And while there are some who argue that the UK legend’s crowning glory is the vomit inducing goregrind of ‘Symphonies of Sickness’, and others who hold the melodic metal milestone ‘Heartwork’ in highest regard, there are those who understand the truth. That here, on the legendary ‘Necroticism - Descanting The Insalubrious’ (the bridge album between the two aforementioned discs), Carcass laid down the greatest, heaviest work of their pathology-obsessed career.
The songs here are enormously different from those you’ll find on ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ or ‘Symphonies’, with their run times nearly doubled or in the case of songs such as ‘Inpropagation’ and ‘Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article’ pretty much tripled in length. The death metal influence hinted at on ‘Symphonies’ takes to the fore here, with song structures slowed down and sped up where appropriate in place of the relentlessly blasting of the two preceding albums. Solos feature prominently (a rarity in most forms of death metal), and an unmistakeable hint of melody shines through each one, though nowhere near that seen on ‘Heartwork.’ Lyrically, gore fans will still be satiated. While the over-the-top titles are absent, in their place is a far more surgically precise kind of description, equally graphic in their gruesome detailing of decomposing, decaying human bodies.
‘Necroticism’ is also an album characterized by a very genuine atmosphere of ominous dread and barely contained bloodlust. This is helped in large part by the sound itself: herein the listener can find one of the finest, heaviest production jobs that Colin Richardson has ever put his stamp on, with each instrument ringing out as clearly as the one alongside, all the while retaining one of the meatiest and most satisfyingly crunching guitar tones ever heard on record. The additional interview samples opening almost every song are the cherry on the cake of the production.
As players, Carcass were on the very pinnacle of their game here. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer’s infamous and highly influential vocals come into their own, coupling Walker’s hellish, primal scream with Steer’s sinister low-end growls to produce a fantastically unsettling effect. Ken Owen gives one of his best performances ever, adding a variety and flair into his drumwork (though his forays into hyperspeed are not completely absent), and his fills are as stunning in their power as they are in skill. And of course, it would be impossible to talk about ‘Necroticism’ without mention of the awe-inspiring guitars of Steer and Michael Amott, who bring grinding, writhing, coruscating riff after riff to the table, along with lead guitar work and solos that are some of the most memorably astounding in all of death metal.
Inarguably, the songs here are laden to the brim with hooks; the very riffs themselves are the kind that will stick in the brain for weeks – the main riff for ‘Incarnated Solvent Abuse’ is one of the greatest riffs of all time – and the subtle groove underscoring the likes of ‘Pedigree Butchery’ and ‘Carneous Cacoffiny’ are guaranteed to set heads banging as hard as any pounding deathly blasting ever could.
All of these elements combine to make one utterly sublime masterclass in death metal artistry, one of the true, inarguable classics of immense significance and historical importance in heavy metal. Truly the greatest Carcass album of all time, and one of the best albums you will ever hear in your entire life. Seek it out now, and revel in the festering slime of ‘Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious.’
Wow, talk about progress. Almost everything dirty and filthy had vanished since their previous "Symphonies Of Sickness" album. The last remains of grindcore almost gone. Jeff singing most of the material with his Kreator-inspired vocals and Bill playing one briliant lead after another. And most notable: a very decent, heavy and ‘modern’ production. Carcass had transformed into a raging death metal group. On this album it also became obvious the boys knew how to play their instruments. The addition of mr. Amott was just a minor detail since Bill and Ken still wrote most of the songs anyway.
A lot of lengthy songs that never get dull because of the awful lot of changes in pace and key. And not forgetting to mention the presence of some really brilliant riffs and leads. Tracks such as “Corporal Jigsore Quandary”, “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Lavaging Expectorate of Lysergide Composition” can even be considered catchy tunes. All this without losing power can be considered quite an accomplishment.
Clocking over 7 minutes, last song “Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article” is of such beauty and ingenuity it can still be considered one of the best death metal epics ever.
Though not Gore metal anymore there still of course were a few blast speed moments to be found on the album as well as the additional vocals of Ken and Bill which made Necroticism a typical Carcass album. This album introduced Carcass to the masses and was their final big breakthrough. A reputation well earned I must say. Do you like death metal or extreme metal in general? Then you will have this in your collection.
Ahh, Carcass, where would death metal be today without these UK grinders? They started off playing full on goregrind-pioneering the genre-and finished their careers as one of the leading bands of the new melodic death metal genre in the mid 90s. Necroticism - Descanting The Insalubrious, can be seen as the stepping stone between goregrind and melodic death metal. As a result, what we get here is the best of both worlds!
The songs on this album are finely crafted and very epic for Carcass. Songs like "Inpropagation" and "Pedigree Butchery" are both able to create atmosphere while retaining Carcass' brutality. The solos are amazing on this album. While not as virtuostic as the solos on Heartwork, they are still very technical, and very memorable. And since Michael Ammott joined Carcass from Carnage, there is now more emphasis on guitar than their previous albusm. Every song is PACKED with riffs and we see that Ammott and Steer make a great team as they trade off solos seamlessly. In fact, everyone on this album has stepped it up musically, as Ken Owen's drumming has improved drastically since Symphonies of Sickness and Jeff Walker's shriek becomes more effective on this album. Necroticism shows Carcass playing at their peak, and is a display of what death metal and grindcore is capable of. If there is one album you must buy from Carcass, this is it!
Okay, I love Gore Metal (the sub-genre this album spawned,) but I really don't get why everyone thinks this is one of the best CDs ever. All I'm hearing is a bunch of mid-paced plodding throughout the whole album. From listening to this CD, all I can remember is a couple riffs from "Corporal Jigsore Quandary". The rest just blurs together.
I admit, Impaled is one of my favorite bands, so I guess I'm comparing this album in reverse. But the way I see it, just because you're the first to do it, doesn't mean you're the best. I respect this album for how original and influencial it was, but I still find it pretty boring to listen to.
So many riffs here are just random notes in chromatic scale at mid-tempo, that are completely immemorable. Most of the album just plods and plods along, and I can't even remember what I just heard. There's some good parts, but then it just goes back into a verse with a lazy, boring riff behind it.
I guess if I would have heard this album before all the clones came out, I would have been impressed. When I listen to it now, I just can't help thinking it's boring as fuck compared to Impaled, Aborted, Exhumed, etc.
Now this is where it all came together for me as far as Carcass went. From a noisy joke to a highly proficient band of tight and skilled musicians, this album showed them at their apex. It did not hurt at all that they'd added the mighty Michael Amott on guitar by now and his soulful, emotive style sits well alongside Bill's ever-developing (by leaps and bounds) abilities. Jeff Walker's vocals and bass work are at their best too, and Ken finally got his act together to propel the band along with ease, better than his obvious struggling to keep the best in the past.
The production is fantastic as well, featuring a clear and compressed sound that had by then become Colin Richardson's trademark. Even Jeff's woolly bass sound had been buffed a little more than before, with more definition. Though the drums do sound triggered, now that I think of it...or are they just heavily compressed? Anyway, it sounds great.
The songs actually have memorable parts, too! The breakdown during the solo section of "Corporeal Jigsore Quandary" (my fave song on display here), and the verses of "Impropagation" are just a couple of good examples of riffs that have stayed with me in the years since this came out. The samples that tie the album together are taken from various BBC medical programs and fit very well with Carcass' lyrical scheme. Altogether this is a very, very impressive display of musical muscle being comfortable bedfellows with brutality and the trademark sickness they'd become known for by now.
Before they lost their edge with "Heartwork", this is Carcass at their best, no two ways about it. It's all there, the production, the playing, the songs even. Easily my favorite album of theirs and the first one I reach for on average.
This is Carcass’s final album in the doctors’ outfits before Bill Steer was haunted by Mick Harris and this time, the future member of Sweden’s Arch Enemy, guitarist Michael Amott joins them. Bill Steer finally has a guitar playmate to exchange solos with.
This is the stepping stone between the goregrind albums “Reek of Putrefaction” and “Symphonies of Sickness” and the melodic Death Metal albums “Heartwork” and the Firebird album in disguise that is “Swansong”. This contains elements from both stages of the band’s history such as the lyrics, double bass drumming and named solos, which are the spine of the goregrind albums and the more understandable vocals and traditional metal structure of the later albums.
Also, this is the height of the length of Carcass songs (ho, ho) as Carcass get braver in writing songs that go beyond the four minute mark and even go beyond the seven minute mark with “Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article”
Michael Amott’s solos are the more melodic while Bill Steer’s is the heavier of the soloing duo and the lyrics are still tongue firmly in cheek (God only knows the carnage if goregrind bands were as serious as the infamous Black Metal scene in Norway).
Outside the soloing, both Steer and Amott prove to be quite the guitarists with the former playing out of his skin (ho, ho) and the latter slotting into place like a heart transplant. Ken Owen’s drumming can do no wrong and Jeff Walker’s vocals really doing the business as he and the band get stuck into their work. After Necroticism, Jeff, Bill, Ken and Mike hang up with white coats for good and decide to become charity workers… nah, they decide to go political when Mick Harris started chasing Bill Steer again, and Mike disappeared into the nearest men’s toilet (and vomited over someone’s pet dog).
Many, many people were attracted to the death/grind battering produced by Carcass on their first two releases. Everything that the band was capable of was realized on Necroticism. Adding Mike Amott as a second guitarist gave them a whole new creative input, as well as a counter to Bill Steer on guitar. Steer and Amott frequently engage in skillfully crafted lead guitar trade-offs, Amott taking a more melodic route while Steer expounds on sonic dissonance.
Necroticism was much more crafted in its production than Reek or Symphonies, and while it was not as "polished" as Heartwork, remains the definitive Carcass release, combining their penchant for lyrics requiring the listener to own a medical dictionary with some of the best and most creative metal music written yet. Carcass took a different turn on later releases, thanks in no part to the apparent commercialization of Heartwork imposed on the band by Columbia records (who even suggested Jeff Walker hire a vocal coach?!?).
High points on the album include the seminal Incarnated Solvent Abuse, as well as Corporeal Jigsore Quandary and Lavaging Expectorate...
Absolutely Carcass at their finest.
A midpoint between Carcass' early grind albums (Reek, Symphonies), and their more melodic albums (Heartwork, Swansong), Necroticism offers the best of both sides of Carcass. The somewhat free-flowing song structures from the grind days are still present, as are Bill Steer's ultra-low bellows (which, along with Jeff Walker's rasps, are still belching out obscene lyrics). With the addition of guitarist Michael Amott, much more melody was injected into the band's sound, which would be explored further on Heartwork.
Steer and Amott's guitar interplay is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Necroticism. Every song has great leads and riffs, which are split almost 50/50 between the two guitarists. Leads are usually of the melodic variety, with the occasional pinch harmonic or whammy bar squeal adding the death metal edge.
The other drawing point of the album for me are the vocal performances of Walker and Steer. The two members often trade off vocal lines, at times creating very memorable and catchy patterns (Corporal Jigsore Quandary). Necroticism is definitely a landmark death metal album, and while it didn't have the initial large impact that Heartwork had on me, I'm sure I will be listening to this album much more often in the long run.