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Great Death Metal - 84%

ImpureSoul, September 28th, 2010

Despite the fact that I hold black metal in much higher regards than I do death metal, mainly for black metal's variation from band to band, and all of it's little sub-genres, there are an odd few death metal albums that I like quite a bit, and Symphonies of Sickness is one of those. It is the second album of one of UK's biggest extreme metal acts, Carcass, and, comparing this CD to their previous one, Reek of Putrefaction, I can say that rarely do I see a band expand and improve over the course of only one year. While Reek of Putrefaction is remembered (by me, at least) as a sloppy mess that, hearing it, reminds you of what a disemboweled and mutilated corpse would look like (you can barely make anything out and once you've experienced it you never want to be around it again), this one has a brutal and heavy sound, with deep guttural growls, harsh screams, and pig-like gurgling, lyrics that I sometimes need a dictionary to understand, and it's a hell of a lot more organized and interesting to listen to than that dèbut album.

The first song, innacurately titled 'Reek of Putrefaction' rather than 'Symphonies of Sickness', starts up with a symphony, and, following that, booming guitars, rattling, choked growls. Right from the get-go, Carcass has successfully set themself apart from their dèbut album without a hitch of inconsistency. The riffs are simple but, because of their B-tuning and the accompanying bass guitar (very high in the mix) pack a hell of a lot of punch. Quickly it has become one of my favorite death metal songs.

Now, another reason I don't tend to favour death metal albums or bands is this: the songs are quite like one-another. You can listen to one song independantly, but when I listen to an entire album at once, I tend to lose interest. Here, the band has remedied this with vocal variation, and tempo variation. Listening to the first 3 songs of the album will make this evident, and that's one of the bigger reasons that I like this Carcass album. It manages to avoid monotony for the most part, without needing to use any sort of interlude or instrumental for those fans that like it heavy without pause. As well as that, there are hints of melody here and there in the album, (though it's mostly reserved for the solos). Even the melodic parts sound
just as heavy as a death metal fan could want, so in this way the band is able to make an album more extreme metal fans can get into.

The best songs here are Reek of Putrefaction, Exhume To Consume, Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment, and Crepitating Bowel Erosion. Now, if you're like me and not a big death metal fan, this will take a little getting used to (it did for me), and while I said it does manage to avoid most monotony, it doesn't completely bypass that factor, (which is why this gets a 16/20) but it comes close enough for me. It probably wouldn't bother most death metal fans though, so if you're into death metal, seek out this album and get it. It may not be as well-known as a Cannible Corpse record, but in my own opinion it surpasses anything I've heard from Cannible Corpse.

I think the reason this album so much surpasses Reek of Putrefaction is that Carcass decided to be serious. In the last album, they really didn't overly care. It shows that they were just incompetent teens trying to be heavy with ugly, morbid lyrics and muddy production. They come off as much more proffesional in Symphonies, with better-constructed songs, hints of melody here and there, more cohesive production (that still keeps its brutal crunch) and just overall improved musicianship. In the end, 'Symphonies of Sickness' is one of my favorite death metal albums that I've heard so far, and if you've heard Carcass' debut album and hated it, this one will smell like a breath of fresh putrefaction in comparison.
Originally posted on under username InfinityZero.