Quite possibly the most anticipated record in metal to come along in a while, does Surgical Steel, Carcass’ sixth album live up to the hype and fill the void of the 20+ year absence since their last album?
Yes and No.
Allow me begin with a quick history lesson. Originally starting out as a grind act, Carcass catapulted themselves to the forefront of the metal scene with their 4th album, Heartwork, in the early 90s. Changing their style to be labeled by critics as “melodic death metal,” Heartwork was an insane success, so much so that they were signed to Colombia. Yes, a major label. Of course this divided fans. Nonetheless Heartwork still stands 20+ years later as one of the finest metal records of all time. If you haven’t heard it, you should be getting your hands on it before completing this sentence – that’s how good it is.
Once at Colombia, Carcass began working on their follow up to Heartwork, and were ready to enter the studio. However, issues arose and the label pulled their support and forced Carcass to write new material. Eventually, there was so much turmoil from Colombia and from within Carcass, they decided to break up. The album was eventually released (perfectly titled Swan Song) to an out raged community as it is easily one of the worst metal records possibly ever made. No matter how many times I’ve given Swan Song enough listens, I just can’t do it.
Move ahead to 2007, Carcass reunites for the Wacken festival in Europe to great fanfare. Eventually, more shows are included and it is decided to record a new album. And that’s where we are now in 2013 with the release of Surgical Steel. First off, Surgical Steel might be one of the best metal records in years. It’s great. But compared to Heartwork, it’s a let down. Heartwork will always be Carcass’ highest point and their curse.
The amazing opening riff in “1985,” showcases the theme of the album, taking us back to a time of thrash, solos and head banging. The follow up track “Thrasher’s Abattoir,” simply showcases to us that Carcass can still play fast and loud – especially for dudes in their 50s. It’s an okay song, I wish there was something more to follow up to “1985.” “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System,” follows afterwards and might be my favorite track on the record. It has everything I’d expect from Carcass. Plus, that solo at 2:22 gets me.
Other stand out tracks include “The Master Butcher’s Apron,” “Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard,” “Captive Bolt Pistol.”
If you’re a fan for old fashioned thrash, this album is right up your alley and I highly recommend it to any metal fan even thought I’d push Heartwork over Surgical Steel any day.
Surgical Steel will be released in North America on September 17th
Carcass plans to play two shows in NYC this September.
9/25 at Saint Vitus – SOLD OUT (in under 5 minutes I hear)
9/26 at Gramercy Theatre