Sunday Old School: British Goregrinders Carcass
Band Photo: Carcass (?)
Last December we took a look at Napalm Death, the British band who is credited with the invention of grindcore, and saw how they were related to a number of other highly recognized names in extreme metal. This week we examine one of those bands, who may very well be just as acclaimed as Napalm Death, Carcass. Carcass was formed by guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Ken Owen under the name of Disattack. The band recorded one demo entitled, "The Bomb Drops..." before deciding to hire new members in the form of vocalist Sanjiv and former Electro Hippies frontman Jeff Walker on bass. Not long after these two joined the band, Steer was recruited as the new guitarist of Napalm Death and recorded the second side of their debut album, "Scum" in March 1987, with Jeff Walker designed the album's front cover. Shortly after recording "Scum," Disattack changed their name to Carcass and the group recorded their first demo under the new moniker, entitled "Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment." This would prove to be the only recording the band made with Sanjiv, who left the band soon after, leaving Walker and Steer to share vocal duties, with some help from drummer Ken Owen.
This lineup of the band released their first album, "Reek Of Putrefaction" in 1988 and despite being very unhappy with the end result, received a positive fedback from many crtics and fans of extreme music, with legendary British DJ John Peel claiming it was his favourite album of the year and inviting the band to perform a coveted "Peel Session" on his show. Carcass would expand on this success with a second album in 1990 named, "Symphonies Of Sickness," which moved away from their previous grindcore sound somewhat, into a more death metal orientated territory. While touring in support of the album, the band decided to recruit a second guitarist in the form of Michael Ammott, who would later go on to form the popular band, Arch Enemy. After recording another Peel Session, the band recorded their first full length album as a four piece, "Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious." With it's better production and catchy title, Carcass would expand their fan base some more with this album, along with a mandatory schedule of heavy touring, including the Gods Of Grind tour with Cathedral (which includes former Napalm Death singer Lee Dorrian), Entombed and Confessor. Carcass also released an EP to coincide with the tour called, "Tools Of The Trade" which featured a new song, as well as re-recorded versions of other songs and the track "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" from the previous album.
Many fans considered their next move to be a radical change in style, when they released the album, "Heartwork" in 1993. The album included a more straight forward approach to song writing, following a "verse/chourus/verse" formula and featured artwork from critically acclaimed Swiss artist H.R. Giger. The album was well received by critics and even managed to enter the British album charts at number 67, a respectable place for such an extreme band. Following this success, Carcass would make the controversial decision to sign to major label Columbia Records for their next album, which was not without it's problems. While recording the album in Wales, the label decided to withdraw it's support of the band and demand that they write more songs as they felt they were not ready to record a new album. The problems with Columbia continued in various forms until eventually Carcass decided to leave the label and head back to their old home of Earache Records, though unfortunately this was not to last as they broke up in 1995, with Earache releasing the band's last album, "Swansong" posthumously, though it gained a high praise from fans and critics alike.
For many years, fans of the band clamoured for a reunion, and many were taken by surprise in October 2007, when Jeff Walker announced that Carcass would be reuniting for a series of festival apperances in 2008, including Germany's famous Wacken Open Air festival. Sadly, the reunion did not feature Ken Owen behind the drum kit, owing to health problems he faced as a result of a brain haemorrhage he suffered in February 1999. Instead the band took Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson with them for the touring, though Owen did perform short drum solos with the band at the Wacken Open Air and Damnation Festivals. Since the reunion, Carcass have toured across the globe, including Australia and New Zealand, as well as their native Great Britain. Although it seems that the reunion is only for live performances, Bill Steer admits that the band haven't completely ruled out the idea of a new album, though it seems unlikely this will happen. Until then, Carcass fans can only hope for another gore splattered masterpiece, but at least have comfort in the knowledge that it's now possible for them to finally catch the band live again.
Carcass - "Incarnated Solvent Abuse"
Carcass - "Corporeal Jigsore Quandary"
Carcass - "Heartwork"
Carcass - "Keep On Rotting In The Free World"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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