With the uprising of bands that are putting out comeback albums these days, it is almost amazing that it took Carcass this long. Alongside At The Gates, they were largely responsible for the basis of the sound that became popular in the late 90’s and early 00’s, first in melodic death metal, and then with metalcore bands ripping off melodeath. Sometimes, however, it’s best to forget all of the great new bands of recent years and go back to the original godfathers of the genre. With “Surgical Steel”, Carcass displays an absolute clinic in aggressive, riff-infested melodic death metal.
The album begins with the appropriately titled “1985”. This intro track prepares the listener for something that should be straight out of the 80’s, with its epic melodies and harmonies. It isn’t long before the first real track begins, however, and it is among the best. “Thrasher’s Abbatoir” is an example of Carcass returning to the brilliance of “Heartwork”, with crunchy riffs and plenty of aggression. Of particular note are Jeff Walker’s vocals. They’re almost identical to how they used to sound, and they are perfectly suited to the music. On the third song, “Cadaver Pouch Conveyer System”, the band really goes after the melodic aspect of melodeath. It’s certainly still an angry slab of metal, but the usage of harmonized guitars becomes far more apparent here. In addition to the use of harmonies, Bill Steer really stepped up in terms of guitar solos. They’re both frequent and impressive, and really put many other band’s attempts at shredding to shame. After the first three tracks, there is a bit of a breather in terms of the songwriting. None of the songs are bad, but it would not be until “Captive Bolt Pistol” where the true brilliance returns (though "Noncompliance to ASTM F899-12 Standard" features a mind-bendingly awesome riff). In addition to featuring all of the modern Carcass trademarks, "Captive Bolt Pistol" displays one of the most mind-blowing dual-axe attack sections I’ve heard in a long time. The precision and speed of this moment is unmatched by other bands, and is probably the highlight of the entire album to me.
Admittedly, Carcass is not one of my favourite bands, but “Surgical Steel” shows a band that is not simply content with rehashing their past greatness. Sure, it’s similar to “Heartwork” in many ways, but the songs are still original, the riffs are completely unrestrained, and the final product is very satisfying. “Surgical Steel” is a prime example of how the originators of a sound are often the very best at it.
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"Cadaver Pouch Conveyer System"
"Captive Bolt Pistol"
4.0/5 or 80%.
Written by Scott