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How to make a horribly produced album sound good? Ask Carcass. My initial review was nothing but hate for this album. I called this a "wall of noise", "instrumental rape going nowhere" and things alike. The funny thing is, it still perfectly meets the first criteria. This album's crappy production unintentionally made it one of Carcass' best known albums. Some people just loved it for the reason it was so goddamn hard to listen to. Then there are people who, for some reason, view this as the best music that mankind can create (ehh, no...) and then you have the people who are ultimately put off by the production so much that they just hate it for that reason. I, like most times, tend to take up a more neutral point of view and say that both camps have their points and both are right at some things. No matter how much you hate or love this album, no one can deny its major influence on both grindcore and death metal along with this album's successor; Symphonies of Sickness. The album that successfully created the genre we know today as goregrind and also happens to be one of the best deathgrind/goregrind albums I have ever heard.
In contrary to Symphonies Of Sickness however, this album does not sound good. I still view Symphonies Of Sickness as one of the sickest, craziest and filthiest albums in existence, but I could easily swap it for this and put this in its place, because this is just as hideous, albeit in a completely different way. Most of the hideousness here is down to the completely scrambled production. The drums heavily overpower the other instruments at some points and the guitars are so poorly mixed they create a constant buzz that goes on in practically every song. This was one of my main gripes with this album in the initial review, how were I gonna listen to an album that's made out of cavemen, buzz sounds and a ridiculously overpowered drum kit? Well, the answer is listening past it. You really gotta pay attention to hear some of the more impressive bits of this album, still, there isn't any praise deserved for the instrumentation apart from the fact that it's fast, really, really fast.
The only thing in the sound here that's done well are the vocals. Carcass was a 3-piece back in 1988 and all 3 did vocals. Ken Owen did both the drums and the higher pitched vocals. Jeff Walker did the mid-range vocals and the bass guitar. And Bill Steer did the low, the ultra-low and the inhumanely low/pitch-shifted vocals. Especially the latter type of vocals had a major following that's still commonly heard in goregrind today. It really scared the fuck out of me the first time I heard them, I immediately realized they were fake but they were still quite a shock to hear. This was also still back in the time where I fucking hated this album so I absolutely despised them. I still don't feel really good about them as they clearly overpower the guitars which you can barely hear (along with the vocals.)
One of the most interesting things about Carcass in their early days were the lyrics. These lyrics were still very, very messy and overly gory. But with Symphonies Of Sickness and later on Necroticism they really progressed in their lyric writing and the lyrics on the aforementioned records are some of the best and most original I have ever read. These lyrics are much more focused on gore rather than the mentally questionable necro-lyrics that made Symphonies Of Sickness so interesting. I haven't taken a very close look at how much sense this makes, but it seems Reek Of Putrefaction kills the bodies in the most horrific ways, Symphonies Of Sickness eats them after decomposing, and Necroticism gets rid of them. Quite an interesting process if you think of it, especially considering the production jobs of said 3 albums all perfectly suit the lyrical themes.
So, while not terrible, Reek of Putrefaction is still easily the worst Carcass album in existence. It's hard to listen to; it's crappy, at times excruciating and absolutely hideous. However, somewhere, hidden deep inside the wall of sound that surrounds it, Reek of Putrefaction is actually a really good grindcore album that drew the blueprint for many sick albums to follow.
Carcass's debut Reek of Putrefaction was pretty ahead of its time and an extremely important album for grind music. I'm pretty sure some of my personal favourite death/grind and goregrind bands wouldn't be playing the music they play without this album, along with their next album Symphonies of Sickness. With that being said, influential doesn't always equal amazing and although I do find myself listening to this album from time to time it's undeniably flawed.
It's evident that these guys knew how to write good songs but the actual execution was done rather poorly, it just sounds like a wall of chaos. The drumming may be good but the sound of the snare is guaranteed to get on your nerves quarter way through the album and it's mainly because basically 80% of the drumming is blast beats so it's impossible to ignore. As for the guitar, I'm sure whatever Bill was playing was good but it's nearly impossible to make it out most of the time, there's a few riffs you'll be able to make out, "Burnt to a Crisp" for example. The tone of the guitar is so muddy and I blame that on the production which gives not just the instruments a muddy sound, the entire atmosphere of the album a very damp and muddy. Oddly enough you can actually hear the bass a slight bit but only with headphones, believe it or not. Jeff's vocals at times will be very low and nearly inaudible and at others time he's perfectly audible which I'm sure is due to the production or the mixing as well. I don't want to be that guy to say "it sounds like a wall of noise!!! that's all grind is!!1!!1" because I'm a huge grind fan but a large amount(not all) of this album is indeed a wall of unfocused, chaotic noise. This is what shocks me because despite all of this, I still enjoy listening to it from time to time.
As I said, you can tell these guys knew how to write good songs but a large amount of the songs have very similar parts and don't really catch your attention. But there's still quite a few standout tracks; "Burnt to a Crisp", "Oxidised Razor Masticator", "Pungent Excruciation", "Regurgitation of Giblets" amongst others(there's 22 songs on the album) but these are the ones that first come to mind. The songs really start to blend in together and sound similar mainly due to almost(or every? don't remember) each song having a verse or two where its wicked blast beats, guitar tremolo picking a power chord with Jeff growling over top, creating an aforementioned wall of chaos but I think if the production and mixing was done better, these parts would actually be pretty awesome. They are nice at first but then I begin to think half way through the album, sometimes not even half "Really? again? didn't I just listen to this?". This album definitely has its enjoyable, gory death/grind moments but its also got it's not so enjoyable boring moments. If there wasn't a chunk of good, enjoyable tracks on this the album would be straight up awful but fortunately, there's good tracks.
That's about all that needs to be said. As previously stated, despite all of the flaws it's oddly a good listen but I wouldn't recommend listening to this too often. It's their debut album so things like this are expected, their next album Symphonies of Sickness continued this style for the most part but much more focused, better production/mixing, etc. plus their song writing improved vastly, I actually consider it the best Carcass album. If you've never listened to Carcass, well first of all what's wrong with you? But seriously, depending on your taste either this (raw death-ish goregrind) or Swansong (death n' roll) are the last albums to listen to.
Many people often give this the misnomer of the first "goregrind" album. While it did help pioneer quite a niche style, I loathe such a term for how ridiculous its criterion is. Instead, I would give this more of a logical name, one that many people are more accepting and familiar with, "deathgrind". This along with Repulsion and their debut effort 'Horrified', helped merge two styles that were seemingly worlds apart into a sound that separates itself from other styles.
Both styles that are combined here shine in their own special way though. Some songs like 'Regurgitation of Giblets', 'Foeticide' and 'Festerday' might show more death metal sensibilities with relentless blast beats and more thrashing moments with Death-styled riffs, but songs like 'Suppuration' and 'Feast on Dismembered Carnage' display more of the grindcore stylings reminiscent of early Napalm Death. But within the aforementioned songs mentioned to switch between these dynamics, the other styles are still present. The stereotype that a lot of short songs make a grindcore album could give one the impression that this is a pure grindcore album, but the first set of songs listed could easily bring this argument down. However, all of these songs have that in common, they are short and to the point.
I'm afraid the riffs on some of these songs wouldn't have the same effect if they were more drawn out. Some of these songs would get boring easily and quite monotonous. Luckily, the benefit of the album as a whole, the band realized that there were a lot more riffs to be offered and a lot of them didn't really fit together. This has the illusion of monotony and massive variety both simultaneously, because while the riffs are vastly different on a lot of the songs, if there's not enough attention placed upon them, they can all seem indistinguishable and interchangeable.
But that raises the question - what is to blame for that? The production values and mixing? I could see this as the cause of the issue. Sometimes, the guitars can get lost within the blast beats, drowning them out beyond recognition, with cymbal echo and the snare overriding the general instrumental mix overall most of the time. The guitars themselves when they're distinguishable are reminiscent of a chainsaw, with a piercing sound to fit the crude nature of the songs. The bass is highly audible, which I guess is good, because it makes the guitars sound more full than they really are, but I would prefer less distortion. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it solos are mixed atrociously as well, soaring over everything else with ease.
Yet I find that's what fits with this album. With such dirty, disgusting lyrical subjects, you need an equally dirty sound to match all of it, and this does the trick. The lyrics aren't the fantasy-gore, torture stories found within such bands like Cannibal Corpse, a lot of these are possible impending dangers, described in horrific detail. Whether these stories are told from the point of view of a disease carrier or a 'Psychopathologist' (see what I did there), they're both equally as frightening, and when the vocabulary found within a medical dictionary is deciphered, these seem much more nauseating and possibly vomit-inducing.
"Purulent torso is a perfect maggots meal
Spilt cerebrospinal fluid is sucked up with zeal
Botulism vitiates the emulsifying bile
Liquidized gall bladder, viscid pus smells vile"
The delivery of such gory lyrics is impeccable as well, with all three members contributing to create a sordid cacophony of pitch-shifted gutturals, throaty rasps and shredding screams. There are certain moments within the album where two of these styles or maybe even all of them are all carried out simultaneously, to create an even creepier delivery. The effort and force put into these vocals are easily noticeable, as I sometimes think they're almost choking up vomit producing such things. This combined with the all the riffs that I've tried my best to describe are the near-perfect mixture of putrid disgust.
To think that this is what some consider just humble beginnings is staggering, because while there might not have been much to do in the way of producing better sounding albums, Carcass practically reinvented the wheel with this album alone. 'Symphonies of Sickness' brought this style to the next step, that's for certain, but this is a monument that is not to be looked over, and should be looked upon with the utmost respect. Enjoy yourselves with this one.
Count me among those few people who actually think that Carcass's debut album "Reek of Putrefaction" is better than most of their later full-length recordings. In spite of the muddy production which makes some of the vocals sound like mud-monster mutterings, the music has a flowing energy and electrical vitality about it. "Reek ..." starts in grand style with a brief angel-choir tone ambience and a very metallic guitar flourish that repeats a few times before pressing down the accelerator and pounding the drums into a rollercoaster ride down to the scrabbly and chaotic "Regurgitation of Giblets". Even that doesn't last very long before we're into the next track, an equally messy traffic jam of a song in which guitar and drums fight for the title of Most Juddery Twitchy Instrument and vocalists Jeff Walker and Bill Steer trade slurpy-slurp slimeball utterances.
The album more or less continues in this way and all the songs - there are 20 of them, trying counting 'em! - can be seen as variations of one whirlwind monster metal grind in which the main constants are frequent epileptic blasts of furious scrabbling guitars that sometimes spit lightning sparks of lead string soloing, convulsive episodes of skin-bashing, bass guitar barely able to keep up with the pace and those duelling / duetting vocals that spit out gravel-flecked vomit balls. Lyrics are as lurid and laughably sick as can be, limited only by the band members' imaginations and the range of comics and medical texts and dictionaries they'd seen at the time. For all that, the instrumentals are energetic and several tracks boast very catchy and dance-worthy groove rhythms - you can hardly stop yourself from bouncing up and down in time to the beat.
I really like the squealy high-pitched lead guitar flashes that are of "blink and you'll miss 'em" duration, the way they suddenly stutter and multiply like bacteria in a frenzy, and the sloppy, all-over-the-house drumming which give the recording a manic and deranged air which suits the over-the-top lyrics. On this album, Steer and Walker share equal vocal duties: Walker's voice has a vicious relish suggesting the bass player might just be harbouring psycho-killer tendencies - he certainly delights in wallowing in all the gore his lyrics muster - while Steer has a deeper swamp-monster vocal in which it's hard to detect what he's thinking or feeling.
Amazingly after the halfway point there's no let-up or relaxation in the pace and general delivery: if anything, the vocals get more vicious and deranged and in some tracks the lead guitar is even more stuttery and some real melodies, very electric and jerky if tinny in sound, sputter out through Steer's fingers. Some recognisable songs appear with repeating riffs and definite groove rhythms near the end, though the drumming is limited in range and is a bit floppy in sound. The final track starts with a gritty and skin-abrading rhythm and continues for some time with rather bland percussion before perishing in a bonfire of fiery lead guitar licks and splutters.
For all the muddy blur which can blunt some of the band's raw style, the trio is very tight and play almost intuitively, as if the guys can read one another's thoughts - their sudden lurches into rapid-fire machine-gun blastbeats and back into a more relaxed mode, repeatedly in the one song, can leave you slack-jawed (if you aren't already at the sheer heavy brutality of the music and the blood-spattered lyrics). There are so many riffs and blastbeats in most tracks that they tend to pass in a blur and they take some effort (and several repeat hearings) to register in the brain cells but what comes across overall is the sheer energy in the musicians' playing. The music appears very improvised and perhaps most of it was done on the spot during the album's recording.
The energy and vitality may not be channelled very well and a lot gets wasted in Steer's solo outings. I almost swear, there is something inhuman in the music, filled with an electric life-force, just ... dying (erm) to get out there!
Carcass has a pretty genre defining career. They were one of the first grindcore bands, THE first goregrind band, and one of the founders of melodic death metal. Well of their genre defining releases, this one falls under the grindcore. It shows much less of the goregrind characteristics that are created on “Symphonies of Sickness” and goes for a much more straight forward grindcore sound.
The songs differ from their second album in many ways. There isn’t as much variation, like I said; this is pretty much straight grindcore. “Genital Grinder” is the opener and it is an instrumental. This song does a fantastic job in letting you know what you’re in for, pure grind. “Regurgitation of Giblets” is an amazing song that is blast beats throughout the whole song. The songs differ from other grindcore bands like Napalm Death because while they still use a lot of blast beats, they also use slower parts to change it up every now and then. It’s kind of a foreshadowing of what’s to come on “Symphonies”. Napalm Death was pretty much fast all the time with some exceptions but Carcass never seemed to go full speed all the time.
The vocals on this album are a much rawer form of the trio of Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, and Ken Owen. Ken’s pitch-shifted parts are much more out of control and sound odd, probably because of the terrible production. Bill sounds pretty much the same as he usually does. He also seems to sing more on this release, it kind of seems like he is the lead vocalist on this album where Jeff seems to take over lead on later albums. Jeff Walker’s highs are not nearly as perfected as they are on “Symphonies”. He still has his vomit-ish noises he does so well but they are much more random on this album. It kind of seems like Jeff hadn’t 100% figured out his vocal style, listen to “Burnt to A Crisp”.
The production is just awful. The production is extremely raw and not really for the better. The guitars are there but pretty quiet. The bass, when you can hear it, sounds pretty lame but honestly, it probably sounds the best out of all the instruments. The drums are quiet and just sound terrible. The snare is flat, the cymbals are quiet and sound like crap, and the bass drum seems to do random things that don’t go with what is being played sometimes. The vocals sound pretty good though. They are above the music like they should be. My only complaint is the pitch-shifter they used sounds like horrible. And they seem to use it a lot more on this album.
The riffs on this album, when you can tell what they are doing are actually good. Bill Steer is a master of the art of grindcore. Everything he does in Carcass and what he did in Napalm is pretty much pure gold, except his solos. Bill has even admitted he didn’t really know how to play solos at the time this was made, so what he does is make random squealing noises. I guess they fit with the terrible production but still, they are pretty bad. Other than that and considering the circumstances that this album was under when they made it, Bill does an amazing job.
The rhythm consists of Ken Owen on drums and Jeff Walker on bass. The bass pretty much follow the guitars. It has a few standouts, (Malignant Defecation), but doesn’t do anything to wow. The drums are very sloppy. Compared to his drumming on later albums, this drumming is shit. His blast beats seem like he doesn’t have the stamina to keep up sometimes. His fills are average at best. And there is no double bass like on “Symphonies”; but know how badly everything went while they were recording, I try not to be too hard on them. Ken really shows how good he is, just not on this album.
The lyrics are straight gore. To me, it seems like they did all the killing on this album, left the bodies to rot, then dissected and ate them on the second album. The medical pathology is still there, a lot of words I don’t understand and would need a medical dictionary to learn them. They were still intelligent but not to the levels they were on the later albums.
This album is pure grindcore. If you like “Heartwork” and later, you will probably hate this album. If you like “Necroticism”, you will still probably hate this album. If you like “Symphonies of Sickness” you might like this album. Or if you just wanna know what Carcass sounded like as a pure grindcore act, check this out.
I would give it a better rating but the production…yea, I’ve explained it pretty well.
Best tracks – “Regurgitation of Giblets”, “Vomited Anal Tract”, and “Splattered Cavities”
Carcass’ debut album is definitely wicked and rotten, but not in a good way: while the band did have riffs and creativity to invent a whole new genre, the album ends up failing completely. Sorry, but there are no excuses for sounding like shit, and trying to come up with euphemisms would only make the headache caused by listening to this recording worse. This album is not "muddy", it is not "raw" and it is definitely not "atmospheric". It is a structural mess, with good riffs being constantly hidden by clearly unintentional noise walls, and sloopy, unprofessional drumming never failing to ruin what the band's creativity (there is plenty of it) struggles to do. The story behind the birth of this abomination is known by basically every death metal listener: Earache gave Carcass little time to record it, and according to Steer the studio engineer ruined the finishing product. They were barely able to mix anything, and ended up being less than happy with the product they had released. Nobody liked the album, it barely sold one thousand copies, Earache did not release anything else with the band and Carcass split up.
Okay, Carcass did not split up. Actually, the shitty recording sold some copies, enough for the band to… Change grindcore completely. For real, no one would have expected the inaudible guitars (E-string tuned on... B) and the shitty drums to be an actual “revolution”, but a miracle happened. Behind the wall of noise made of echoes and low-as-fuck bass, some people saw creativity. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, it was indeed there: if you ignore the drums, you will see that the vocalist does his job nicely enough and that there are surprisingly varied riffs and chaotic solos. In addition, Carcass tried to make stuff that was never made before: in more than a few songs, the bass becomes the lead, and since it reaches frequencies as low as 30 Hz, these parts end up adding a sick and crazy atmosphere to the music, which was probably intentional.
Unfortunately, the completely messed up production and the poor drumming become increasingly hard to ignore as you progress through the album. It is okay to say that some songs do make weird pictures of slaughtered innocents appear in your mind, but the more you listen to the recording, the more bored you get. Carcass tried to get a point across with this recording, and they would have failed their objective completely if it were not for the metalheads that saw talent where almost no one would see. Thankfully, not everyone is as narrow-minded as I am, because if they were, Jeff Walker would be washing restaurant’s dishes for a living nowadays. I would give this album a rating of 20%, but due to its historical importance, I will increase the rating a little.
Whenever I listen to this album, I am saddened. Saddened because of what this album could have been and what it is. Carcass, pioneers of grindcore, goregrind, death metal, melodic death metal, whatever the fuck genre they feel like playing at any given time, made their debut with this album. They're playing grindcore here, and of course, doing a damn fine job of it.
First things first, the production on this album is absolutely terrible. It's not authentic or raw or gritty or any of those adjectives that people use to praise the less than pristine production on older extreme metal albums. It just really, truly sucks. It sucks enough to actually ruin your enjoyment of the album. So, unless you're sure that you are a complete Carcass fanboy, or a grind addict who can pick riffs out of the most chaotic and repulsive noise, you would do well to stay away from this. Grindcore sounds like noise to a lot of people's ears as it is, even some fans of extreme metal, and this is a grindcore album with the worst production in the world. Ever.
Bill Steer, who handles guitar duties here, also played guitar on Napalm Death's genre-defining album, From Enslavement to Obliteration (FETO). And yet he manages to sound very different from what he sounded like on FETO. His tone is a lot less harsh, his riffs much, much more varied and he even adds some solos. I can't comment on the quality of the solos because they don't actually sound like solos on the album, but high pitched noise.
Jeff Walker's bass is pretty much the ether the album is swimming in. He is mostly following the guitar, but due to the ridiculously bass heavy production, it sort of fuses with the riffs and contributes greatly to the muddiness of the album.
Ken Owen is manning the drum kit. You hear the snare and bass drums boom out clearly from time to time, but pretty much any other distinct beats are difficult to make out. The drums maintain a quick tempo in the blasting sections and there really isn't much wrong with them.
All three members contribute to vocal duties. Each er... vocalizing, because they're obviously not singing, in a different vocal range. Walker's trademark, recognizable high rasp is what drives much of the vocals. Steer contributes a lot, both in terms of quantity and quality. He growls at lower than sub bass frequencies. If you turn the volume up enough I'm sure they would cause an earthquake. He would gradually reduce his vocal contributions on subsequent albums, but he growls quite often here. Owen does distorted vocals that are slightly higher sounding than Steer's but distorted enough to sound even more inhuman.
The riffs are awesome. No question about it. There are tonnes of them and they are all catchy. You may have to strain your ears a little, but they are audible and fairly distinct and will get stuck in your head. This is why the production is such a travesty. This album is good enough to be legendary, but it is robbed of that glory because it sounds like shit. The songs also have more coherent structures than the almightly blastfest that is FETO. The lyrics and song titles are what you expect from early Carcass, complicated biological and medical terms put together for the purpose of delivering maximum disgust. The songs are very much riff-driven and there is much less blasting than what you'd expect from a grind album.
The songs are all good, and as is usual for grindcore albums, they're best enjoyed when the album is listened to from start to finish. They also rarely exceed two or three minutes in length. It is a fantastic abum. It coud have been right up there with Symphonies of Sickness, perhaps even better. I love it and listen to it often. I really, really want to give it a score in the 90s. But I can't. The production is really that bad. A re-recording would make it more accessible to a lot more people, but there is practically no chance of that happening. Enjoy it for what it is. And lament over what could have been.
With the ripples of their influence able to felt from all corners of the extreme metal scene, Liverpool, England based metal band Carcass are truly a force to be reckoned with. Formed in 1985, as a Grindcore/Goregrind band, the group from its earnest beginnings worked its way up from hometown heros to world renowned metal heros, all through the use of hard work, intelligence and ingenuity. However, before their ascension to the throne of metal, Carcass played some of the rudest, crudest music known to man, which is displayed flawlessly on their 1988 debut Reek of Putrefaction, a savage and unforgiving slab of brutal Grindcore.
Everything aspect of Reek of Putrefaction is harsh and uncompromising, from the tortured vocals of Jeff Walker(the raspier growl), Bill Steer(guttural growls) and Ken Owens(distorted growls) to the intense blast beat drumming to the cruel guitar savagery that assails the listeners ear drums. Vocally the trio's approach to screaming is utterly sickening (in a good way). While Walker's incredible larynx torturing rasp dominates most of the record, Steer and Owens own brutal delivery often make their way into the mix, making for amazing dynamics between higher pitched, mid ranged and absolutely guttural vocals. A great example of this would be fifth track Carbonized Eye Sockets ( a great name for a song if there ever was one) The drumming on this record (courtesy of Ken Owens) would now be considered fairly straightforward and simple, but in the of 1988 his lightning fast blastbeat technique would inspire thousands of blooming drummers to reach and surpass his sonic record. There are breaks from his fast paced playing however, with these beats often rooted in more groove laden pastures. The beginning of Pyosisified (Rotten To The Gore) shows the more midpaced and slower playing while also demonstrating the impossibly fast speeds at which Mr. Owens was capable of.
The guitar playing (presented by Bill Steer) ranges from fast, tremolo picked guitar, to slower chugging palm muted riffs to slow crawl guitars. On tracks like Fermenting Innards the listener gets to see the contrast between his style of playing dabbling a bit in each setting of speed. Another great dynamic of Steer's playing on this record is it's technicality. Unlike a vast majority of Grindcore bands, who just stick to playing power chords at warp speeds, Steer includes many different cadences, chord changes and solos into his playing. His solos range from Slayer inspired whammy bar fests (Festerday) to alternative picked/legato solos such as in Excreted Alive. The bass on this album is sometimes present as in instrumental Genital Grinder but is mostly unheard more often than not sadly. The lack of bass is no doubt partially attributed to the fact that the production on Reek of Putrefaction is absolutely atrocious. All instruments and vocals (except for the drums which are actually very clear) are horribly muffled as if someone put a pillow over the speakers of the amplifiers. In most cases this type of production would ruin an album, but in Carcass's case the abysmal production works perfectly. For whatever reasons, the muffled instruments and sounds manage to "complete" the sound of Carcass, making whats already intense and raw, even more so. Lyrically, Reek of Putrefaction provides content that would make even hardened veterans Cannibal Corpse gagging. Taking terms and definitions directly from a medical textbook Walker twists and turns the subjects into things of horror, and gore, that would make any voluntary fan who looked at the lyrics sick to the stomach.
While Reek of Putrefaction see's Carcass already at a mature level lyrically and musically, this debut is only the first step in the evolution of this ever changing band. With the help of Reek of Putrefaction and it's abnormally strong content, Carcass as able to evolve their sound even further, with each successive release taking giants strides forward in style and ability. The roots must not be forgotten though, as Reek... most definitely proves to be a debut worth repeated listen.
Originally posted on Sputnikmusic.com
This album is the epitome of grindcore. Dark, heavily down tuned guitar riffs played over constant hyperblasting and sloppy guttural vocals with gory lyrics and medical terms abound.
Sure, the album sounds distant and awkwardly produced, but it sounds magnificent in the same way. The guitars are nothing but low-end and distortion, and the drums are nothing more than skull-crushing and sloppily played. The vocals are distant, quiet, but repulsive and devastating despite the drums being everywhere all the time.
First off, I'd like to address the song lengths. While some songs benefit from the short song lengths (i.e. Festerday and Maggot Colony), certain songs would've been so much more satisfying if they were a tad longer, maybe with extra riffs (Psychopathologist and Pyosisified).
The guitar riffs are your framework for what deathgrind would be known for later on. Extremely brutal, fast, and unintelligible (I mean, they tune to B for Christ's sakes, it certainly doesn't help the murky quality of the album), but always satisfying. The tone is, as previously said, low-end heavy and covered up by bass distortion and drums, but again...strangely satisfying in that ugly way. The riffs in Pyosisified are some of the best on the album, alternating between a frenzy of scathing guitar riffs played at a billion miles per hour and a slower, churning, hateful breakdown that epitomizes deathgrind and goregrind. The solos are nothing but high-end, and contrast the riffs so well, that you dread solo time, but can't wait either.
The drums are sloppy, but still satisfying and bone-crushing, but Ken doesn't exactly have a varied list of techniques for this album. He frequently blasts, rarely stopping to do a fill or simple beat, almost always that hectic blastbeating. His skills would greatly increase by the time of Necroticism and Heartwork, notably for the better. Also, the drums are a tad overpowering, which is kind of a letdown.
The vocals are ridiculous on this album, and definitely awesome. Switching between the super gutturals (Steer), the mid-range growl (Walker), the pitch-shifted gurgle (also Steer), and the slightly higher screams (Owen) we have a barrage of vocal stylings, and all fitting to the music. Owen's harsh yells on Excreted Alive catch you by surprise but are vicious, and Walker's mid range screams are always welcome on this album, which is dominated by Steer's monstrous presence. The vocals are a bit quiet and muffled but this issue is fixed on the next album (Symphonies of Sickness).
Speaking of muffled, the production is thick, grimy, and mucky as hell. The whole thing sounds as if it was recorded in five-foot thick hummus, and is ten times heavier than what the following release would be. The production is weird, shifting from the drums being overpowering to the guitars being a slight overpowering about halfway through the album, and thus the second half sounds much more interesting and heavier than the first half.
The songwriting is pretty linear, verse-chorus-verse-verse-solo, but the riffs contained in this super straight-forward adventure are the real highlight, as was previously mentioned. One of the best examples of Bill and Jeff showing a spark for extremely catchy riffing and vocal lines is the 16th track, the album's finest as well, Psychopathologist. The song has that linear pattern, but the way it moves through the pattern with ease and astounding brutality is unmatched in today's scene.
So, it all comes down to preference on this album, as with just about anything else. If you like slimy, wet grindcore with death metal riffing and vocals thrown in, pick this up without even thinking; well, actually, do think, because if you forget to listen to this album, you are fucking stupid. This whole thing rips you in two all the way through, but in good way I guess.
- Hefty guitar tone that cuts through the chaotic drum frenzy
- Four vocal attacks, all well performed
- Heavy and unsettling production
- Solos are messy and chaotic
- Audible distorted bass
- Master volumes change about halfway through the album
- Little to no drum variation
- Some songs would do better with longer lengths/more riffs
Buy this album, it's recently been reprinted, don't download this. This album deserves that $13, and is one hell of an album.
car·cass (kärks), noun
1. The dead body of an animal, especially one slaughtered for food.
2. The body of a human.
3. Remains from which the substance or character is gone: the carcass of a once glorious empire.
4. A framework or basic structure: the carcass of a burned-out building.
Carcass. A name that is seldom missed when it comes to old school Swedish/British grind and the beginnings in the melo-death scene in Sweden. Carcass started as Disattack playing hardcore punk at an early stage and as we all know, to those whom hardcore punk became too slack, founded the grindcore genre. Acts such as Napalm Death and Repulsion come to mind, but also Carcass, with their most disgusting debut of an album back in 88' "Reek of Putrefaction". And that debut surely lives up to its name in any and every way.
The basic formula for each song is a typical discharging aggression, as short and energetic as possible, with incredibly down tuned guitars. You can barely even hear them. Of course, the poor audibility of the guitars is a mixture between sloppyness, poor equipment and extremely low pitched guitars. You have some basic synthesized effects for a short solo here and there, but the fleshy structure remains the same. Punk style riffing, juiced up with some rock'n'roll with a nausea inducing vocal delivery as the cherry on top for all the sick people who actually enjoy this vile cacophony some people dare to call music. I know I do! The ultimate result of the terrible production is not only an overwhelming landslide of sonic mass, but also some really annoying audio feedback that is created. As this does not really disturb the overall enjoyment, but still is a lousy byproduct of something incredibly indecent, which is good... I think.
Now the really good part about grindcore aren't the yucky punk-influenced music, but the really good vocals. They have a great indifferent undertone to them, which is amazing. That Jeff Walker sounds like he doesn't give a damn about anything. Also seeing this guy live, spitting unintentionally while singing was very entertaining. If you like a really sloppy band, with great vocalists and gory, medical-themed lyrics, then this is the band for you! Avoid the band after 93' if you don't like the more melodic stuff, but this is material for another review, another time.
Conclusion: Highly recommended for every grindcore and old-school fan.
Many of those who have gotten into Carcass's works probably (at least in my case, anyway) were first exposed to their later works such as Swansong. Imagine my surprise when I first came upon this album and what it beheld for me.
Being relatively new to the goregrind genre, it wasn't that groundbreaking to me, and the screwed-up production didn't help much. But after a few listens, the ugliness, rawness, and over distastefulness of the album drew me in.
The opener, "Genital Grinder", is a short, fairly simple metal instrumental that draws me in every time I hear it... then from there on it becomes a never-ending onslaught of sick chaos, coupled with poor production which makes it sound as though the band is in a bass-heavy prison cell with woofers all over the cell. This barrage of drums and bass makes the guitar riffs difficult to comprehend, but what one can make out are prototypical gore riffs at their best.
But the reason this album was so influential is oh-so-obvious upon listening... it's fast, chaotic, shocking, brutal and sick all at the same. It's 33 minutes that will, if you are a fan of goregrind, will leave you satisfied.
I’m sincere, I’ve never loved Carcass too much during their first period. I must say, anyway that this band was fucking ahead for the period, featuring music that was hard to understand and accept in the 80s panorama. Napalm Death invented the grindcore, but this band invented a new genre, even more brutal and gore: the gore grind. The lyrics were different from Terrorizer, Napalm Death and closer to the fathers of this genre: Repulsion.
The grindcore attitude and speed are brought in an another direction with plenty of growls and the lyrics are something unbelievable for vileness. They’re about pathology, surgery and body diseases in a mess of mutilations, wounds and infections. These guys were just sick. The music itself is not too various and is more focused on the blast beats with down tuned guitars and hyper growlish vocals.
Needless to say how groups like Repulsion and Carcass were innovators for a new music conception, nowadays brought by lots of bands in the whole world, especially in Poland and that part of Europe.
Let’s start from “Genital Grinder”: one of the highlights here that features morbid atmosphere and the unmistakable cold, chirurgic way of playing. There’s no mercy and the drums are heavy like a machete crushing the bones.
From now on, the band is always fast as a train with inhuman blast beats and hyper sick vocals. They are almost like animalistic groans. The few mid paced parts are something unbelievable for putridity and stench. There’s nothing left to say, also because it’s useless to describe the songs here: they are all a brutal mixture of grind madness and gore atmosphere.
All in all, this is not an easy album to listen to and it’s recommended to any lover of these sonorities out there. This is anyway a big influence for the modern gore grind groups that “infest” our panorama.
Along with Fear of God, Repulsion, Impetigo and Napalm Death, Carcass were one of the first bands to play the grindcore genre. Unlike many of these bands, though, Carcass took it to a whole new level. Their music was heavy, down-tuned and were probably the FIRST grindcore band to use a pitchshifter. The lyrics much more grotesque, vile and violent. These songs weren't about zombies, nor were they about politics. These lyrics were all about the human body and the grossest things that can, and have, happened to them. With songs like "Carbonzied Eyesockets", "Vomited Anal Tract" and "Microwaved Uterogestation", even the biggest gore fan will feel like vomitting his own gizzards to the floor.
The music itself is fucking brutal. Not only will it knock you on your ass with the pure adrenalin and speed of the music, it'll keep you in shock with the horrifying vocals. As I said before, Carcass were one of the first to use a pitch shifter, and it makes the music a whole lot better.
This record layed the foundation for every and all goregrind/pornogrind record ever made since it was released. It is among the most influential death/grind records of all time, up there with Autopsy's "Severed Survival", Napalm Death's "Scum" and Fear of God's "Pneumatic Slaughter". Buy this as soon as possible and let bile fill your throat with glee!
I only use 'stinking' in the most loving, fond, caring way. Never has an album title been so apt a description of the contents that lay therein. These songs sound like they were written during a stoned drinking binge, submerged in a drainage ditch, shotgunned to pieces, stuffed in a mortuary drawer and forgotten for a couple of weeks, finally buried, then exhumed (to consume teehee) three months later. Thats all a good thing in case you were wondering.
It's weird to hear musicians, in this case, Bill Steer revert musically. At first listen, his work on the 'Mentally Murdered' EP sounds epic compared to this. After repeatede listens it becomes aparent there is a surprising degree of sophistication in his playing. The presumed primitiveness of this record is more due to the production on this record rather than riffs. A close listening with headphones caused this to become apparent to me.
Something I noticed (or it could be imagined) about this album is that the production seems to improve as the album progresses. I imagine the band in some tiny styrofoam and egg-carton lined room recording the album live, with Paul Talbot adjusting the levels and fiddling with the knobs all the time the band is playing, finally stopping at arouns track 12 when the songs stop sounding like a talking asshole. Not that the intro song, Genital Grinder is without a charm and sludgy sensibility all its own.
One thing that finally convinced me of this albums genius and solidified it's jellied guts as a classic to me is the solos. They have names. Names that have something to do with the song it's in. For example, the solo in 'Excreted Alive' is called 'Pulsating Sphincter'. And I'll be damned if it doesn't sound like my own sphincter pulsating as it unleashes it's wrath on the world. To me that little gimmick, and it's not even a gimmick, but a novelty, just screams brilliance and is just another touch that makes this album a complete audio-visual extravaganza.
Everyone knows that this album is the blueprint for every good and every shitty goregrind band that followed blah blah, so all I can say is buy (NOT download) this album (with original gore artwork) or forever be a posing little BITCH.
I am being highly charitable in thie review instead of giving this the review it deserves ( a big fat goose egg), because after all, this is a pioneering release. There, I said it. Now for the honest truth part; this sucks out loud.
The production is shite to say the least, a distorted blur of downtuned noise and muted drums--this was one of Colin Richardson's first productions, if memory serves and it shows. Some would consider this cool, but even an underground release needs a little more fidelity than this.
Once past the sound quality or lack thereof, the lack of playing ability comes into the picture, most damningly on Ken Owen's part, as it sounds as though he had just started playing drums a few months previously, and enthusiasm only counts for so much. Bill Steer's riffs all mush into a wall of mud with wet shit-tone bass flowing underneath them, and the vocals are blatantly effected out. The few solos are no more than chaotic whammy bar squalls and noises, Kerry King/Rick Rozz worship at its more blatant. Incomprehensible medical terminology for lyrics and hey presto, (AOL VOICE) you've got grind!
I can't say I really can single out any good tracks on this album, because they all are pretty much interchangeable. This is for completists and gore grind fanatics only, honestly. And I am not really either one of those two most of the time. The following album, "Symphonies of Sickness" was far, far better than this mess, and I can at least listen to that one and enjoy it.
Carcass' first full length feature comes in the form of "Reek of Putrefaction", and it shows Carcass utterly at their roots - a bona fide grind band. Delightful song titles greet us with each track (Genital Grinder and Vomited Anal Tract being my person favourites). Most of the songs begin in a calm fashion, with the instruments being easily identified. The issue arises however, when the drums begin blasting on top of the guitar, bass and dual vocal tracks, then it usually becomes a total wall of noise. However, the band remains tight, even in the midst of some of the shittiest production this side of Mayhem.
Genital Grinder opens up this slice of subatomic sludge in grind fashion, with a heavy as fuck riff plodding along with sewage drums of doom...(whatever that means). Then it's basically 30 minutes of gutteral vocals, lightning fast riffs and surprisingly melodic solo breaks. The lyrics are great, much better than their later stuff and evoke an image of a few young men flipping the pages of a medical dictionary in search of the most grotesque words possible.
Notable tracks include Carbonized Eyesockets, which has a more "together" feel than many of the other tracks, "Burnt to a Crisp", featuring very strange opening vocals and "Fermenting Innards", for having some excellent riffage going on. "Execreted Alive" has some additional nice riffage packed into it's short length along with some Demilich style vocals.
If you like Swansong/Heartwork and haven't heard any other Carcass, don't get this yet. Start with Necroticism, as this is probably the most different of their work, even more extreme than the slightly more deathy "Symphonies of Sickness".
This review will be short. I called this album a classic because it is. However, you might seem sceptical with it getting only a mere 75.
That's because this motherfucker IS IN DIRE FUCKING GODDAMN NEED of being remastered. Music's all groovy (as compared to most grind), and has alot more catchy leads and fills, but it all sounds so horrible, it's like no budget was even used.
Now, maybe it won't be so short. The vocals are kind of brutal, and if you're a fan of new Carcas (ie only Swansong) you're gonna hate this. This is not the melodeath they sold out to. Not the melodic death that Heartwork was, nor the death of Necroticism. This is grind. Shorter songs, more brutal, but kind of.. funky.
Riffs sound clunky. Refuckingmaster. But once again, looking past that, it's awesome shit. The drumming is too, generally forming nicely tied in blastbeats, or popping in nice fills.
Ok, this review's pretty much over. Get it, because it's really great music. However, if they should remaster it at any time, it would definatly be in anyone's best interest to pick that up too, even if you own the old version.
PS: All Carcass artwork sucks.
This is where goregrind started. This album is still one of the most brutal and extreme releases ever to hit the ground. The great meaning of it meaning of it is evident – many bands tried to copy the sound and the manner the album is written in. Carcass were the first to introduce medical terms in songs, and to write anatomical, medical lyrics.
The songs on the album differ from each other; almost each of them has some catchy riffs or some memorable moments, many tempo and rhythm changes, changes in vocals. Music changes from ultra fast to simply fast paced and to mid paced, no slow numbers on this album. All this makes album non-monotonous and less boring then Symphonies of Sickness. Many tempo changes as there are, the fast and ultra fast tempos are the dominant.
Guitars are down tuned and heavily distorted (it is not Black Metal’s wall of noise, but still), riffs
below vocals tend to be alike in the most of songs. However, when no vocals, a wide variety of riffs can be observed.
Solos tend to appear randomly and to be rather chaotic. They are usually fast and lack any kind of melody so they sound rather “noisy”.
Bass is also down tuned and distorted like in Black Metal. Bass work on the album is very good – it is not drowned behind the guitars and drums, but can be clearly heard. In definite places bass takes the lead. Intros for two songs are also bass (Genital Grinder and Malignant Defecation).
Vocals, range from guttural growling to “crepation” and screaming. From time to time effects as pitch shifting and distortion are used. There are two vocalists in carcass so they sort of “duel” with each other (like Priest’s guitar duels, but in singing): one vocalist takes up growling and another takes “crepation”, screams and other vocal techniques of higher range.
Drums. Lightning-fast blastbeats, blastbeats and again blastbeats.The usage of bass drum is very good in here.
Lyrics on this album are full of anatomy, gore, rotting and of course maggots. In general they sound quite insane, because of the detailed way they are written in. And as I already mentioned they are filled with medical terms.
And now some words about production: it’s raw, dirty with dominating low frequencies but still all instruments are heard pretty well.
The Album’s Highlights include : Genital Grinder, Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore), Feast on Dismembered Carnage, Splattered Cavities, Burnt to a Crisp, Oxidized Razor Masticator, Malignant Defecation.
Recommended as a prefect start into goregrind and grindcore in general.
Carcass's debut full-length, re-released with the original artwork which is an interesting mish-mash of cutouts of body parts (some miscoloured due to decay) which had been banned until now.
Guitars and drums merge together to form a intense wall of sound with the twin vocals puking over the mass that barely changes in each of the 22 songs (you can tell where the music changes and each of the songs are different so the album isn't a mass of sound).
The lyrics deal with gore on a medical basis, examples like the song titles like "Oxidised Razor Masticator", "Microwaved Uterogestation" and the lyrics have their fair share of words you otherwise would see in a medical textbook (with a touch of Britishness thrown in for good measure).
There are some moments in the album that could've been in a death metal album like the song "Burnt to a Crisp" which is probably the only death metal song in the album (as an example).
Best songs on the album:
Regurgitation of Giblets
Burnt to a Crisp