Review Summary: Yet another solid album from Carcass, and a step in the right direction after Swansong
Carcass' first album in almost two decades is an interesting release to say the least. Whereas before, the band attempted something completely fresh on every outing, 2013's Surgical Steel seems to be the culmination of everything they had done before. Instead of pioneering a new musical frontier, their new release is primarily a second run of Heartwork with some of Swansong's catchy hooks and a small amount of grind flavoring. The resulting album is a mixed bag to say the least.
Two short songs kick things off in a sketchy way, feeling rushed but still packing that signature energy that sets Carcass apart. Between them the two songs don't span six minutes, so they can quickly be forgiven and it seems as though the band merely wanted to get the sub-par songs out of the way. When reaching songs like the monumental closer Mount Of Execution and the penultimate track Captive Bolt Pistol, which stand out as two of the hardest hitting songs the band has done, things really get interesting. The closing track is one of the band's longest, reducing things to a crawling pace at times but definitely creating a dark mood. After the two short numbers that kick this album off, it is just a steam roller of an album that crushes you flat with many hard hitting songs.
Bill Steer is the lone guitarist for this album and he puts in a fantastic performance, creating some infectious rhythms and even topping any of Amott's solos with some of the later tracks here. Many of the songs sound very similar to the Heartwork album and the riffs are arguably just as creative as on that release. The vocals are a raspy shriek that many will recognize instantly and they provide a superb front for this band whilst many of the bass lines sound like what would be played as Cliff Burton entered heaven. That being said, the drumming lets this album down quite abit with some generic patterns that do little other than rumble along at a mid pace. This is the one thing that let's Surgical Steel down compared to the band's past works.
Carcass' sixth full length album is one that they can be proud of and whilst it is let down by an insipid drum performance and lackluster opening, it can more than hold its own against most modern death metal