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Some albums have very apt titles for the music they contain and Carcass's second full-length studio effort goes into this category: "Symphonies of Sickness" truly is a symphonic effort in over-the-top gore-related cheek. Liverpool's finest apply their six-string scalpel-n-scissors set to another unwilling cadaver and serve up ten tracks of dense grind / death metal battery that often goes all over the house in pace, melody and riffs for our degustation ... and the music at least is pretty tasty. The style and method of attack aren't far removed from the first album "I Reek of Putrefaction" but what's different here is that the music is more precise and the guys now have a better feel for one another's style so they're playing intuitively, able to anticipate who's going to do what and adjusting their own playing accordingly. As the speed on songs like "Exhume to Consume" can be hell-raising to say the least, Carcass's ability to present as one really tight unit is impressive. Yet for all their technical chops, the musicians still maintain a free-flowing energy through most songs and there's a definite mood of evil, deranged relish combined with aggression over the entire album.
At just under 44 minutes in length, the album is best heard in one sitting: it plays like one really long jam and the members' enthusiasm and slavering zest slide from one song to the next as though all ten tracks are linked by an invisible spinal cord. (Most likely the guys didn't record the entire thing in one hit but it sure seems as if they did. That might be the best thing about the disc.) Each succeeding song piles on the intensity and sends the cheekiness of the entire shebang to another level with Jeff Walker and Bill Steer's duelling / duetting vocals picking furiously over the corpse burst apart by decomposition in "Ruptured in Purulence" or the whole band charging furiously through a messy autopsy in "Empathological Necroticism", among other things. By "Slash Dementia" and "Crepitating Bowel Erosion", you'd think the guys must be jaded playing such dense and wild brutal music and with such a big pile-up of things to burn in the incinerator but, no, they go completely ... demented on "Slash Dementia" (well, what else?); on the last track when the, er, shit and more besides hit the fan, the boys are way beyond help, spiritual or otherwise, as they collapse in seas of viscera and stinking body fluids.
It's not just all guitars-n-drums barrage: synthesiser can be heard on a few pieces like "Exhume to Consume" and most songs boast smart, smooth groove rhythms which unfortunately don't last long or repeat only once in among a bewildering range of riffs and melodies in each and every track. It's as if Carcass approach song composition thinking each song they do is gonna be their last and their brains are just shit-full of ideas, musical motifs and crazy notions that they must offload all at once or their heads will end up in the same state as bodies do in their lyrics. Steer's guitar solos have improved technically over the spurts and splats of the first album but still retain their squealy electric-shock quality.
The lyrics describe either the decomposition process in its variations, unprofessionally performed autopsies or acts of cannibalism and auto-cannibalism in lurid and colourful detail. Whatever one imagines can be done to and with a human body, it's there.
The only thing that would be sicker and funnier than this symphonic grindcore / death metal effort would be a scenario in which Jeff Walker decides to turn the whole thing into a stage musical with full orchestra backing.