Original grind progenitors arising from the ashes of Napalm Death, Carcass initally recorded sloppy and medically grotesque grindcore but have gradually "progressed" into technical heavy metal/rock music.
flag of the United Kingdom Carcass - Reek of Putrefaction (1988)
Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness (1989)
Carcass - The Peel Sessions (1989)
Carcass - Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious (1991)
Carcass - Tools of the Trade (1992)
Carcass - Heartwork (1994)
Carcass - Swansong (1996)
Carcass - Wake Up and Smell the Carcass (1996)
Reek of Putrefaction

Production: Stochastic resonance includes noise in quasi-improvised studio sound to boost a full and deep guitar from reverberating crepitant, deliberately ugly waves of gnarled texture.

Review: Grindcore arose from the ashes of punk, which took rock 'n roll riffs and stripped them down to keyless powerchord streams, and added to it the metal sense of a poetic summary or "heavy" conclusion, where earlier riffs formed a narrative that when summed up in a final bridge added context to the song and, in that sense of distance projected, gave new weight to what had transpired as narrative. Carcass injected this style with a grotesque, ironic sense of humor which, like the Misfits before them, turned 1950s style rock music into a parodic horror suggesting a society of pleasant illusions hiding a corrupt and more literal reality.

1. Genital Grinder [instrumental] (1:32)
2. Regurgitation of Giblets (1:24)
3. Maggot Colony (1:37)
4. Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore) (2:55)
5. Carbonized Eyesockets (1:11)
6. Frenzied Detruncation (0:59)
7. Vomited Anal Tract (1:45) mp3 sample
8. Festerday (0:22)
9. Fermenting Innards (2:35)
10. Excreted Alive (1:21)
11. Suppuration (2:19)
12. Foeticide (2:46)
13. Microwaved Uterogestation (1:24)
14. Feast on Dismembered Carnage (1:27)
15. Splattered Cavities (1:54)
16. Psychopathologist (1:18) mp3 sample
17. Burnt to a Crisp (2:43)
18. Pungent Excruciation (2:31)
19. Manifestation of Verrucose Urethra (1:02)
20. Oxidised Razor Masticator (3:12)
21. Mucopurulence Excretor (1:09)
22. Malignant Defecation (2:14) mp3 sample
Length: 39:41

Carcass - Reek of Putrefaction: grindcore 1998 Earache
Copyright © 1988 Earache

Songs surge forth with riffs played at full punk speed but drums often lagging in slower paces, giving a sense of insouciant urgency as a storm builds below; riffs are mostly of the rushing style pioneered by Discharge that sound like changes in fast-moving water currents, and by their ambiguous tonal centering suggest an ongoing revelation and not a static state. These vary in the rock style from riff to chorus, but then are summarized in the best interpretation of heavy metal, with longer melodic phrases -- mimicking the cheerful melodies of early rock music, transposed into minor keys and dissonant modal dislocations -- that draw internal contrast to a scenic viewpoint, gesturing a completion and yet expansion of themes.

While the new style of grindcore, including the saprophytic vocals and booming disintegrating guitar tone, seized the imagination of most, what made the work of Carcass and others a new style was their interpretation of music itself: they mocked the past by simplifying it and directing it to expose seamy undersides instead of shiny new facades, but in doing so, revealed an irony to this pursuit, which is the frailty of humanity and the absurdity of its condition. On this album, the desire to sense of the gore and horror and give a vision of the future was not yet subsumed by this irony, which like all fragments is simpler than a whole and so, like heroin, a tempting meme.

Symphonies of Sickness
Production: Muted torsion of garage level production wrenches music through intense abrasion to create metallic effect of edging and polarizing musical tone.

Review: Melodramatic extremist grindcore explores the discontiguous nature of life's end in overdemonstrative but concise metapoetry involving simple, sloppy, grindcore riffs grating up against a metallic sense of extended arrangement and epic song construction. Despite the simplicity of the playing here, the players very skillfully manipulate simple melodies into the rhythm and handful of riffs and budget-composition elements to put together intense and wide-ranging songs.

Guttural grunting and shrieking mockery are the two voices of guitarist and bassist as they work through mini-operettas of gastrointestinal fate, vivisection, or organ decomposition. Probing and tearing rhythms afflict cyclic winding into consistent motion which then decays, bubbling and chortling in guttural vocal accompaniment to detuned, suppurating guitars. Riffs, and song structures, reflect more clarity, alluding to the structuralism that made death metal so distinctive because it crafted its songs from riffs-as-phrases which taken together, revealed an order which unlocked the commonality of its motives.


1. Reek of Putrefaction (4:09)
2. Exhume to Consume (3:50) mp3 sample
3. Excoriating Abdominal Emanation (4:31)
4. Ruptured In Purulence (4:11) mp3 sample
5. Empathological Necroticism (5:45)
6. Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment (5:13)
7. Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency (3:10)
8. Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites (3:23)
9. Slash Dementia (3:23)
10. Crepitating Bowel Erosion (6:28) mp3 sample
11. Genital Grinder 2 (2:59)
12. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation (6:11)
Length: 53:13

Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness/Reek of Putreaction - Grindcore 1989 Earache
Copyright © 1989 Earache

Carcass hang in deliberately dissynchronized rhythm, letting distorted and muddied phrases synthesize into lengthier, grinding masterpieces which satirize older melodic styles in barre chords shuddering through longer phrases. Varied are tempi, intelligently enough to pace songs against each other in settings from driving multiphrase blast beat to slow rolling double-hit death metal paces. Hardcore emerges as the face behind the genealogy in some running verses, bridge uptempo shifts, and deadpan industrial rock drumming; in other areas, hints of metal from the previous and current generation emerge.

Contrasted to earlier Carcass works, this album reveals its underground music genetics to be a more finely calibrated hybrid of grindcore/hardcore, which shows more of a rock 'n roll heritage in the short loops of its riffs, and the newly-minted death metal, which used longer loops in riffs and created musical information through the shape and changing direction of each phrase, not its harmonic destination. This is the more metal of the two early Carcass works. Though built from barre chords and refragmented rock beats, this album guides our eyes through an underworld of horror, fragile life, violence, anti-ideological compassion, and delightfully incognito absurdist humor.

N.B.: During the early 1990s, Earache sold a Symphonies of Sickness/Reek of Putrefaction combined CD, which lacked "Genital Grinder II" and "Hepatic Tissue Fermentation" from Symphonies of Sickness, and "Carbonized Eyesockets","Frenzied Detruncation", "Festerday", "Microwaved Uterogestation","Manifestation of Verrucose Urethra" and "Mucopurulence Excretor" from Reek of Putrefaction.

1. Crepitating Bowel Erosion (5:10) mp3 sample
2. Slash Dementia (3:25)
3. Cadaveric Incubator of Endo Parasites (3:18) mp3 sample
4. Reek of Putrefaction (3:34) mp3 sample
Length: 15:27

The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit/Dutch East India, 1989)
During the 1980s and 1990s, when it was more difficult to distribute music, having a band come and play live in the studio for a radio show was popular because listeners could hear it, and many would tape it and spread around the new sound. UK Radio One DJ John Peel, who "discovered" (for the indie world) Napalm Death and Carcass, invited the band into his studio in 1989 to record four songs live on the air. Later made available, this CD is exactly what you would expect: four-track production and live dynamics, with songs being slightly faster and oddly, less sloppy than on Symphonies of Sickness, with all of the urgency and tape hiss required for a successful radio debut. While this recording will appeal to collectors, its more rigid playing makes these songs seem sparse, and so for casual listening perhaps it is better to hear them in the blur of noise and more relaxed nerves that the albums offer.

Carcass - Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious

1. Inpropogation (7:09)
2. Corporeal Jigsaw Quandary (5:50) mp3 sample
3. Symposium Of Sickness (6:58)
4. Pedigree Butchery (5:18)
5. Incarnated Solvent Abuse (5:02) mp3 sample
6. Carneous Cacoffiny (6:45)
7. Lavaging Expectorate Of Lysergide Composition (4:05) mp3 sample
8. Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article (7:12)
9. Tools Of The Trade (3:07)
10. Pyosified (3:11)
11. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II (6:37)
Length: 61:14

Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious (Earache, 1991)
Beware bands who have crested the arc of their actual accomplishment and, lacking any further reason for positive direction, are now resting on their accomplishments while waging negative warfare against any who come to unseat them; they have dropped out of the process of life and into the process of power. On this album, the quirkily innovative creator of gore-inducing grindcore hangs up the towel on foreward momentum, but defends its position by throwing in sweeteners and comes up with a blueprint for all future death metal which wishes to be normed into rock music. In addition to simple grindcore riffs, heavy muted-strum death metal riffs surge forward in a melange of classic heavy metal/hard rock riffs, melodic and cheesy glam metal guitar leads, very basic Pantera-styled bouncy speed metal riffs which set up a jaunty doubled pattern whose power rests entirely on its rhythmic complement in anticipation, creating music designed to lead you along by your nose. The disingenuity of this approach shows in the song structure, which is verse/chorus with each having a linear sequence of riffs repeated in a circular pattern, as if trying to fool us into thinking there's complexity here. Drumming sounds like Jawbreaker on a bad day, riffing is like an alarming anal hybrid of later Megadeth and Pantera, and the "death metal" aspects are the worst dumbed-down aspects of Suffocation and Malevolent Creation cloneage on record. With the "progression" of this album, Carcass have abandoned death metal and grindcore both musically and philosophically. Metal represents a perspective beyond the individual, surveying life through the eye of history and science, seeing information more than tangible matter, and so being immune to sentiment and personal drama. For all their bloviation about how terrible corporate rock is, Carcass replace this philosophical perspective with the grindcore-infused heavy metal equivalent of U2: pop meets protest rock in one-step "emotional" melodic hooks that emphasize a comforting harmonic and rhythmic monoculturalism, where that culture is the focus on individuals feeling important for having emotional reactions at the expense of the averaging of all its influences into a uniform mixture of schmaltz and self-righteousness. This approach works by making the individual feel a connection to a simplified view of life; it is not negating of the individual, and looking at broader patterns and designs and structures as death metal was, and so it's much more like the cosmopolitan, hipster, advertising-fed and corporate-approved nonchallenging focus on the ego that rock music has always been. This work lacks an attention span, and by pandering to an audience of the same outlook, it laid out the blueprint for generations of directionless death/grind.

1. Tools Of The Trade (3:06) mp3 sample
2. Incarnate Solvent Abuse (4:44)
3. Rotten To The Gore (3:10) mp3 sample
4. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II (6:37) mp3 sample
Length: 17:37

Tools of the Trade (Earache, 1992)
Having perhaps realized what a dripping excremental mass Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious was, Carcass attempted to return to the roots of their first two albums with this more underground offering. The basic stylistic mix from the album is present, crushing diversity by lumping together all its different elements and so emerging with an emulsified compromise that loses the distinctive power of each, but the emphasis on simpler riffs mated to more selective melodic solos gives this the technical edge developed on Symphonies of Sickness on half of the tracks. The rest are either borrowed from the full-length or in its style, showing us a band which cannot decide between keeping its integrity and keeping the label and the voiceless majority, who prefer to buy new versions of unchallenging things they already own, happy. History shows the band choose the latter, spit out another two albums, and then dissolved in a total lack of forward momentum which caused internal infighting, much in the same way nations collapse once they have lost any agreement on collective goals beyond personal convenience.

1. Buried Dreams (3:58)
2. Carnal Forge (3:54) mp3 sample
3. No Love Lost (3:23)
4. Heartwork (4:31)
5. Embodiment (5:36) mp3 sample
6. This Mortal Coil (3:49)
7. Arbeit Macht Fleisch (4:21)
8. Blind Bleeding the Blind (4:57)
9. Doctrinal Expletives (3:39) mp3 sample
10. Death Certificate (3:37)
Length: 41:57

Heartwork (Earache, 1994)
Starting life as a spinoff from Napalm Death, arguably the innovators of grindcore, Carcass made hard, simple, fast, off-time, loud, assaultive and deviously humorous material that sidestepped the angry politics of punk hardcore for a view of mortality that brought the focus of listeners back toward what, in life, was not an illusion of reality arising from social consensus. On Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious, the band applied instrumental learning to craft more modern grindcore: tighter, abrasive rock-like harmonies and blasting rigid grindcore percussive structures, drawn more in the cutting edges of chords played off each other in compact structures than loose, heavy sludgeblasts colliding in the freespace of off-time drumming. Heartwork extends this progression further but also drops Carcass back to the stone age of their influences as young musicians, bypassing the hardcore/grindcore associated with their sound for 1970s hard rock and 1980s speed metal. This flashy guitar-hero commercial hard rock, a sound Carcass had so seriously eschewed and mocked during their early days one wonders about the sincerity behind this album, has taken over direction and technique to convert underground metal into rock music dressed up to sound like extreme metal. The ornamentations of heavy metal accompany the distorted Carcass trademark rasp and the muscular sense of rhythm in riffing found on Necroticism, creating an unusual crossover reminiscent of later Megadeth, with more emphasis on extensive guitar solos (something generally played in noise rather than notes in early Carcass), interludes, dual guitar harmonies in the style of Iron Maiden harmonic meandering and a general resemblance to normal rock. Although this disc represents the descent into Pantera-styled crowd pandering that destroyed all cerebral aspects of underground metal, and so normed it into the commercial surrogate for socialization that is rock music, the musicianship is excellent: it creates its own space among listeners and moves into it, but never moves them. It reeks of lost ambition and missing potential. The conversion of grindcore to its origins in accepted commercial rock did not sit well with the fanbase, and this album essentially slammed shut the career of this promising band.

1. Keep On Rotting In The Free World (3:39)
2. Tomorrow Belongs To Nobody (4:15)
3. Black Star (3:27) mp3 sample
4. Cross My Heart (3:30)
5. Childs Play (5:39)
6. Room 101 (4:31)
7. Polarized (4:00) mp3 sample
8. Generation Hexed (3:46)
9. Firm Hand (5:20)
10. R**k The Vote (3:50) mp3 sample
11. Don't Believe A Word (3:56)
12. Go To Hell (3:18)
Length: 49:11

Swansong (Earache, 1996)
When direction is lost, the only option besides quitting while you're ahead is to form a tight circle and follow it until it becomes a vortex leading downward. A steady gradient of speed/heavy metal admixture into the grindcore/death metal of Carcass occurs from Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious through Heartwork, but on Swansong, all connection to the past is pitched and the band launches into Led Zeppelin imitation with accoutrements from heavy metal, hard rock, grindcore, death metal and shredder rock from the 1980s. The band seemed determined to bash its legacy with a very standard album that showcases the playing ability of individuals, but also illustrates how the band as a collective can no longer produce interesting music. Fans agreed, and this album zipped to used racks across the nation while the members who used Carcass as a jumping-off-point went on to promote their own acts which somehow took this style further. The pomposity of the lyrics, and the "in your face" departure from metal, suggests the band became bitter at its fans (and the members probably at each other) and decided to burn some bridges and burn them good. I think they like to pretend a superiority in knowledge and imply it ironically in case they get called on it, but as the clueless reversion to standard topics (Orwell, cliche politics) demonstrates, this is more a pose than a new direction or wisdom. It's wise for anyone who likes good music to avoid this album, but if you did not notice or mind on Heartwork you'll appreciate this hard rock version of that album.

Unreleased Tracks from "Swansong" sessions 1995
1. Edge of Darkness (6:08)
2. Emotional Flatline (4:15)
3. Ever Increasing Circles (4:05)
4. Blood Spattered Banner (4:41)
5. I Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck) (3:50) mp3 sample
Radio 1 Rock Show sessions 1994
6. Buried Dreams (4:05)
7. No Love Lost (4:51)
8. Rot 'N' Roll (3:44)
9. Edge of Darkness (5:48) mp3 sample
Heartwork EP sessions 1993
10. This Is Your Life (4:08)
11. Rot 'N' Roll (3:49)
Tools of the Trade EP 1991
12. Tools of the Trade (3:05)
13. Pyosisified (Still Rotten To the Gore) (3:09)
14. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II (6:38)
Pathological compilation 1989
15. Genital Grinder II (3:00) mp3 sample
16. Hepatic Tissue Fermentation (6:12)
Grindcrusher compilation 1989
17. Exhume to Consume (4:18) mp3 sample
Length: 75:45

Wake Up and Smell the Carcass (Earache, 1996)
Carcass founded much of what grindcore would become by managing complexity and compositional coherence through simple riffs without compromising the extremity of their art; the subtle difference lurked almost entirely in the distinctiveness of their riffs and songs because of their compositional centering in melody. This posthumous compilation of rarities shows the refinement and then decomposition of this idea, like a standard distribution plotted across time. The first session features alternates from Swansong, which is elegant shredder heavy metal that rolls along through rock rhythms and melodic riff hooks but leaves the stark austerity of death metal behind and bogs down in predictable elements of rock. Second comes recordings from the BBC Radio One show giving us rougher versions of the Heartwork sound, which introduces heavy metal and speed metal to death/grind, resulting in an ornamental but directionless mash that loses its distinctive power. The next two sessions borrow from EPs in the midlife crisis of the band, with the first taking lighthearted tracks from Heartwork and the second borrowing from their biggest waffle, Tools of the Trade, which shows an ambivalence between gore-grind and radio speed metal and never finds a direction. The two remaining sessions are both tracks recorded for compilation CDs, beginning with the Pathological compilation which received brutally-distorted yet upbeat versions of songs from Symphonies of Sickness, the groundbreaking 1989 Carcass masterpiece, including a perhaps more melodic bass presence. The second compilation, Grindcrusher, bore an amazing version of "Exhume to Consume" complete with neo-noise, neo-ultragrind introductory material and booming violently distorted production. Start to finish this compilation is an impressive collection of work by an impressive band, and is a good way to get early rarities from the two compilations mentioned above, but for the serious listener (not collector) it offers little quality music that the first two albums do not.

1. Genital Grinder (1:32)
2. Maggot Colony (1:36)
3. Exhume to Consume (3:50) mp3 sample
4. Swarming Mass of Infected Virulency (3:10)
5. Tools of the Trade (3:04)
6. Corporal Jigsore Quandry (5:48)
7. Incarnated Solvent Abuse (5:01) mp3 sample
8. Buried Dreams (3:58)
9. No Love Lost (3:22)
10. Heartwork (4:33)
11. Keep on Rotting in the Free World (3:40)
12. R**k the Vote (3:53) mp3 sample
13. This is Your Life (4:08)
14. Crepitating Bowel Erosion (Peel Session '89) (5:08)
15. Slash Dementia (Peel Session '89) (3:23)
16. Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites (Peel Session '89) (3:14)
17. Reek of Putrefaction (Peel Session '89) (3:35)
18. Empathological Necrotism (Peel Session '90) (6:05)
19. Foeticide (Peel Session '90) (2:54)
20. Fermenting Innards (Peel Session '90) (2:56)
21. Exhume to Consume (Peel Session '90) (3:59)
Length: 78:49

Choice Cuts (Earache, 2004)
Milking the corpse further, Earache released this compilation of tracks -- a greatest hits -- with selected tracks from the Carcass "Peel Sessions" recorded by UK Radio One DJ John Peel, ensuring that these stayed available on a full-price CD. Outside of these tracks, which are excellent, there are few manifestations of their earlier works, and lots of the stuff that as time passes people are increasingly regarding as "filler" -- Heartwork, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious, and the odious Swansong. As a result, listening to this CD is to find a little bit of familiarity, then a ton of randomized technique and half-complete ideas, and finally, to encounter a handful of tracks from the early days that differ little beyond production and being recorded live.

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