Review Summary: Symphonies of ordinariness
Seven years after Surgical Steel
, our favorite pathologists return with a four-track EP in order to deliver us some new music as we wait for the band's upcoming seventh album, postponed to 2021. Anticipating such a long-awaited comeback by releasing a set of songs that never made the cut is rather unusual and not advisable, I would say, however the current scenario of the Coronavirus pandemic has shuffled everything, changing the rules of the game, including the strategy and planning for both bands and labels in the short, medium and long term. Sometimes we forget that, like any human being, a musician also needs to make a living, and these lads are certainly no different. As listeners and fans, we welcome this small snack, now it remains to be seen whether this pit stop will add something to the band's legacy and if it will indeed build a coherent bridge with the next full-length. While the last question can only be answered next year, I will come back to the former in the final paragraph.
takes off with a guitar lead that reminds of '1985', which actually makes sense since these four songs could have been taken from Surgical Steel
sessions. It's not that it is a deliberate copy paste, however, the look and feel is something similar. The opener's ending or the Dave Mustaine-ish riff on 'The Long And Winding Bier Road' are both examples of this stylistic convergence. This Megadeth-esque approach had already been widely noted in the previous record, on songs like 'The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills' or 'Unfit for Human Consumption', and judging by this sample, it is likely to reappear in 2021.
As I move through the songs, I get the feeling I'm actually dealing with leftovers. I am well aware this assertion is rather vain since that's what Despicable
is all about, but these remains could in fact echo greater inspiration. Except for a few interesting moments, like the dynamic riff in 'The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue', or 'Slaughtered In Soho's' lead harmony, these eighteen minutes don't offer anything truly exciting. On the contrary, they reveal a somewhat sterile and ordinary facet, like the generic chorus of 'The Long And Winding Bier Road', which is one of the most trivial moments this band has ever recorded. Maybe I'm being too harsh with a release of this intermediate nature, yet a band of such historical relevance is always subject to meticulous scrutiny, especially when it emerges following a seven-year hibernation.
In contrast to the lack of creativity, the lads deliver professional performances, as expected. Jeff Walker's vocals haven't lost their former ferocity, and Bill Steer's riffs, though somewhat uninspired, retain their usual personality. I particularly enjoy the blend between Walker's strident delivery and Bill's deeper gutturals, I always thought this combination was one of the most distinctive and interesting elements of the band's DNA. The clean production enhances the technique of each member and suits the band's personality, yet I believe a more powerful distortion would benefit Despicable's
output, making it more lethal and irreverent.
Going back to the preliminary question, Despicable
will certainly not stain the band's portfolio, as a matter of fact, I actually believe these four songs may delight both unconditional fans and voracious collectors, yet they don't really add anything relevant to Carcass' legacy. And in fairness, I don't believe that was its goal either. These eighteen minutes should be seen as a brief pit stop, a small snack that precedes what will surely be one of the most anticipated heavy metal albums of 2021.