When it comes to the world of death metal, there are only a few bands that are held in such high regards as the Liverpool based Carcass. Over the course of only five albums, the band not only became one of the most influential death metal groups to exist, but also successfully reinvented themselves with each progressive album they released. In 1989, hot from the success of their grindcore defining Reek of Putrefaction
, Carcass released Symphonies of Sickness
, an album that not only showed the band mixing their hectic grind with some traditional death metal influences, but also showed the band hitting their stride as unique and innovative song-writers.
While 1988's Reek Of Putrefaction
saw Carcass perform in a straight up grindcore style, Symphonies of Sickness
displays a great departure from the band's initial sound. Introducing a much greater level of technicality in all instrument area's Symphonies of Sickness
takes on a much more death metal inspired path than it's predecessor, a sound that will only develop upon later releases. Vocally, Jeff Walker's phlegm filled snarl and Bill Steer's guttural roar are as puke inducing (especially in "Crepitating Bowl Erosion") as ever: the two sound like they are practically shredding the insides of their throats, yet somehow, the sickening approach greatly aides the chaotic music presented by the band. The guitar riffs (also courtesy of Bill Steer) are dirty and downtuned, sometimes being played in the form of twisting tremolo picking, and sometimes in a slower, palm muted fashion. Steer really does a great job of combining the grindcore type guitar of old with the newer death metal oriented sound, which gives the album some great variation. Also in songs such as "Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites" and "Slash Dementia" Steer unleashes some of his truly unique and quite interesting soloing style. Perhaps the greatest leap in skill on the album is taken by Ken Owen, who on Symphonies of Sickness
shows a great change of style in his drumming. While Reek...
displayed Ken using the fairly simple style of single bass note patterns and blasting on the high hat/snare, Symphonies of Sickness
showcases a much more complex style of drumming. Almost as if a completely different drummer, Mr. Owen now uses complicated double bass beats, and overall shows great diversity through many different patterns and fills.
Lyrically, Carcass is just as disgusting as before. Using terms of his sister's medical books, Jeff Walker spews in "Reek of Putrefaction", "Volatile entrails fume and steam/As they're meticulously hacked during discission/Evaporating sludge and bubbling puss/A rotten gaseous expiration...
". While nobody may know exactly what this means, it sounds pretty disgusting. In a way, it's almost sickening to think that these kind of lyrics are some of the more influential traits that newer grindcore bands incorporate into their songs. Also the band's (for its time) unique dual vocal approach also was a great influence to a newer generation of death metal bands. For their time, Carcass were true innovators, which no doubt attributes to the fact that they are one of the best known, and most popular death metal bands to ever exist.
When it comes to crafting quality death metal, Carcass are the kings of the crop. From their vile lyrical content, to their mish-mosh of grindcore and death metal, the band never ceases to amaze. With Symphonies of Sickness
, Carcass began to show some of the hidden talent that would grow and bloom on following releases. From this point on, the band would join the metal elite, and their place in music history was safe and secured.