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Reek of Putrefaction - 94%

TheSpirit, July 20th, 2010

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.

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