by Bartender USER (42 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 1771 replies

Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

As we all know, some bands release excellent albums, and some bands release excellent albums more than once. A select few bands release an album which starts, epitomises or defines an entire genre or style of music. But how many bands can claim to have done so more than once?

Carcass' first two full-length release, Reek of Putrefaction and Symphonies of Sickness, as well as being great albums (the former named Album of the Year by the mighty John Peel, in 1988), were also two of the defining early albums in grind, commonly quoted alongside Napalm Death's Scum. The link between these two English bands went further that just the origin of a style; they shared members (Bill Steer, I think, left Napalm Death at some point to dedicate himself to Carcass). Following Symphonies, a fourth member was brought into the band for the first time, in the shape of Michael Amott (who later went on to be a part of both Arch Enemy and Spiritual Beggars, having left Carcass, ironically because he thought they were getting too melodic). Amott's addition signaled a definite move away from grind, the result of which was 1991's Necrotism: Descanting the Insalubrious, an absolute masterpiece of straight-up death metal.

Which brings us, then, to 1993, and the release of Heartwork. Often quoted (with a frequency seemingly in direct proportion to how "mainstream" the source is) as Carcass' best album, it definitely marked a change in their style, and more or less started what we know (or should know) as melodic death metal. Yes, that just means death metal with more melody; but such had simply not been tried to such an extent before. It owes, to my mind anyway, at least as much to the 80s NWOBHM sound as it does to death metal; the characteristics of their death metal past are there (the harsh vocals, etc), but the influence of bands such as Iron Maiden can also be more clearly heard, in songwriting, and lead melodies, and so on.

In line with the continuing move away from grind, the songwriting takes a much more prominent place, and it's a more than successful transition; every song is memorable. The lyrics also are different; the medical dictionary style of earlier albums replaced by less easily definable themes. And if the songwriting is good, then the guitar play is incredible. Carcass, thanks in large part to Bill Steer, have always been a band more than able to push out excellent riff after excellent riff, and the addition of Amott doesn't hurt. Practically every riff is as memorable as the songs themselves are. The solos too are well done - they don't attempt to dominate or take over the song, establishing their own anarchistic communes within the song from whence they came, as some bands' seem to attempt. Rather, they are clearly part of the song, they (to use a cliche) "know when not to play", and they fit with the melody and riffs of the track.

The main criticism which is leveled at Heartwork is actually that which should be seen as it's greatest strength; the introduction of more melody. Although you can see many lauding it, you can see just as many slagging it off as their "sellout" album. They introduced more melody to their music, they got rid of the gorey lyrics, the gorey cover art, they sold out, to make more money. I see this accusation as somewhat unfounded. Yeah, they abandoned the gore lyrics, but so what? After three albums and several EPs/demos, I would most likely have been bored of writing a dozen accounts of autopsies as lyrics for an album, too. The cover change just mirrored the change in lyrical themes, and the cover art, by the way, is pretty damn good; a sculpture by HR Giger, I believe, and a cool one at that. And yeah, they changed their music, but they'd always been changing. Despite the grind label, Reek of Putrefaction and Symphonies of Sickness weren't carbon copies of each other, and Necroticism just plain wasn't grind. The change on Heartwork resulted in more easily accessible music, but it was also, as we've covered, a new style of music. Exploring somewhat uncharted (or at least less charted) territory can hardly be seen as selling out. Doesn't the general gist of selling out have something to do with conforming to something already successful, purely in order to make money?

Basically, this is one of those albums that a fan of metal should just own, but to say that Heartwork is Carcass' masterpiece would be unfair; it's only one of them.

Recommended song
The title track is about as good a song as any for an introduction. If you're interested, Death Certificate seems to have a riff in it that Papa Roach "borrowed" for Last Resort.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 31st 2004


Oh my god i adore this album, this was truly an excellent review of it, too. Well done.

Everytime i listen to this i really am saddened that they split, i think they could have gone on further and been the melo-death band. It so odd they made a landmark album, started falling apart, then just split.


Dancin' Man
December 31st 2004


I heart this album.

Nice work 'Tender.

I just busted out the Papa Roach CD too.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
December 31st 2004


This album wins, good work.

December 31st 2004


Great review! :thumb:

/me goes to listen to Heartwork

Dark Hero
December 31st 2004


Finally this album has been reviewed, great review also.

January 22nd 2005


Great review, I need to get this.

January 22nd 2005


Album Rating: 4.0


Good review 'Tendy. I just got this album and ich liebe! It took me way too long to get some Carcass...this truly is a classic.

Lord Hypnos
January 23rd 2005


Oooooo sounds good. Must buy.

January 23rd 2005


Meh, this pales in comparison to the earlier stuff... the title track is good, most of the rest is not. I don't know what I would rate it. Less than 4/5 anyways.

July 24th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

i bought this album the other day, and its been on my cd player non stop, tis truly amazing!!! i love every song, especially blind bleeding the blind (for the lick and solo trade offs especially!).

im gonna get necroticism or swansong next, and then wake up and smell the carcass, and then the first two albums (i think they released them on one cd at some point?).

im addicted to this band after buying just one album and hearing a coupla other songs, shows how good they are really doesnt it?!

July 30th 2005


Album Rating: 3.5

Great CD, but (imo) does not compare with the first 2 cds

aaah I miss them, especially the good old grind days...

that being said the title track and carnal forge are among my fav song of all time

August 21st 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Oh,my God!This album changed the face of the music we know today and obviously changed my life! This is an album that once you put on your CD player or on the turntable as i used to do, it will take a long,long time to step into another album. MILESTONE ALBUM!

October 9th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

This album is classic. No question about it. Most will say dark tranquility, in flames, and at the gates started the melodic death metal age but it is more than fit to include Heartwork as a major influence in a lot of the mld we hear today.

October 15th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Carcass is ace. This album is one of my most prized albums. I can never get tired of it.

Well.. It did pale a bit.This Message Edited On 11.03.05

October 16th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I heard one song off here and it was pwnage to the core

November 3rd 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Is this really Death Metal? Or is it more like Melodic Death, At The Gates style? I don't need another At The Gates, but I'd love to hear Michael Amott do some death metal pickin'.

November 8th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

iv had this album for a few months now, and i can honestly say that in my opinion it is one of the best, if not THE best metal album in existance. seriously.

November 8th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

This album is fucking incredible. I bought it a few days ago and I can't get it out of my head. I will definitely review this.

November 8th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

^^^^^There you go folks. All the proof you need. Carcass owns, even Fallen says so.

November 8th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

With all the bands that (greatly) rape Carcass' frantic, melodic sound makes me wish the band stayed around. Definately a classic metal album period.

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