It’s been over thirty years since Liverpudlian grindcore bastards Carcass left people gagging to the gloriously gory cover of debut album Reek of Putrefaction (Earache) and reeling to the twenty-two charmingly immature blasts of vomitous noise dripping inside. Symphonies of Sickness delivered improved musicianship and longer songs, Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious and its divisive follow up, Heartwork, continued that trend but the run ended in 1996 with the rather lacklustre Swansong. Rebooted and reinvigorated (but sadly minus drummer Ken Owen due to health issues), Carcass returned with a bang in 2013 with Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records) and now, after a gap of eight years, they’re back. Again.
With its title taken from an old demo, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast) kicks off with drummer Daniel Wilding blasting into the title track, new guitarist Tom Draper and legendary six-stringer Bill Steer quickly appearing with the album’s first killer riffs. Yeah, baby. This is Carcass. Big groove, shredding solos, that guitar tone and frontman Jeff Walker‘s vocals still coming straight from Satan’s bottom. ‘Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No 1 in B)’ mixes a big mid-paced groove with a spiralling blues riff while the title to ‘Eleanor Rigor Mortis’ amusingly references fellow scousers, The Beatles, the song blasting out of the starting blocks with a sprint before shifting down a gear.
‘Under The Scalpel Blade’ combines old school energy, slithery Heartwork era guitar melodies and a bouncier Swansong vibe before the insistent mid-paced stomp of ‘The Devil Rides Out’ takes over. ‘Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited’ follows, and although it features a quite sensational solo and contains riffs beefier than the contents of the local abattoir, there is no plausible reason for it to last for over nine minutes.
‘Kelly’s Meat Emporium’ twists the old school bludgeon of Necroticism into a more tempered, modern touch, ‘In God We Trust’ is driven by a simple but effective chuggy riff and ‘Wake Up And Smell The Carcass/Caveat Emptor’ goes all Black Sabbath, at one point virtually stealing a riff from the eponymously titled classic. That same Sabbath energy spills over into the first minute or so of closing track ‘The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing’, the album ending on a high in ferocious style.
Another link in the continuing evolution of Carcass, Torn Arteries might be a far cry from the obnoxious, crusty grindcore of Reek or Symphonies but there are still moments when that familiar barely-held-together insanity returns. Never for too long though, the breakneck speed usually replaced by another bluesy solo or mid-paced chug. In many ways, it’s like a fifty year old jumping Kung-fu style into the middle of a moshpit. For a few exhilarating seconds it’s all sweaty fun and flailing limbs. But then the breathing gets heavy, the legs give way and the realisation dawns that maybe it’s time to slow things down a little. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Just proof that Carcass knows how to adapt and survive.
Buy the album here: https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2021/Carcass/tornarteries.html
7 / 10