In Perspective: All Hail Carcass!

Requiems Of Revulsion: A Tribute to Carcass

Various Artists

Deathvomit/Necropolis

Did death metal ever have a prouder moment than Carcass? That’s not a rhetorical question, the answer is fuck no. Carcass were like the Rosetta Stone of extreme music, showing the way to grind enlightenment. A bunch of longhaired, pallid vegetarians slashing away at their instruments, making a divine noise that was equal parts vomiting blood and redefining and honing metal guitar down to an unblemished surgical blade. Lyrics and cover collages were stomach-curdling and disgusting, but also a reflection of a bleak worldview where human beings were only disposable bags of meat to be ground up by a larger oppressive system.

It didn’t matter if you couldn’t understand their clinical codespeak, through their music, Carcass were cramming in purer and more intense emotion than most artists summon forth in a lifetime. When I saw Carcass waaaay back on the Grindcrusher tour, people around me in the front row were breaking down in tears at the majesty of it all. Carcass guitarists Bill Steer and Michael Amott named their guitar solos, fer chrissakes; each solo was a laser-guided melody that could pierce even the blackest metal “heart,” and then, of course, Jeff Walker would start screaming again. But man, the fall came just as surely as the rise, didn’t it? Symphonies Of Sickness and Necroticism were absolute benchmarks of metal purity, but the men in Carcass for some reason needed more. “More” as in mainstream acceptance, as in song titles like “Keep on Rotting in the Free World,” as in videos where hair was whipped around by wind machines, as in where did the evil go? Carcass kind of faded away, slowly and painfully, surely an injustice considering the paths they blazed.

But y’see, a sickness like Carcass can’t be killed forever. Sure, it may lie dormant and forgotten for awhile, but at some point, conditions will be favorable for it to return in new and mutated forms. Brilliant case in point: this here new tribute comp on Deathvomit Records. Deathvomit positively reeks of the Carcass virus, and surely a good many of these bands picked up instruments after being infected either from their records or their transcendent live shows. And the kids are definitely alright. Every band on the record tears into the material with primitive and vicious enthusiasm. No performance is lacking that spark of demented inspiration that made songs like “Pedigree Butchery” so special. And to the last man, they ALL hit the solo breaks so perfectly. Nice cover art, too.

Here’s the rundown. Regurgitate kick things off with a downtuned note-perfect recital of “Genital Grinder;” later on Pig Destroyer also does that song AND throws in some “Regurgitation Of Giblets,” all sick, screamy style. Rotten Sound gives “Reek Of Putrefaction” a very precise flaying, with a dandy approximation of the Walker/Steer vocal technique. Haemorrhage recast “Rotten to the Gore” with a spiky Obituaryish guitar sound and deep vocal grunts; the last minute is pure gold. Nasum fucking grind up “Tools of the Trade” and then spit the pieces into your hungry mouth; it’s a speedfreak monster. I almost passed out when they hit the double-tracked solo break sooo dead on. Cattle Decapitation hack their way messily through “Burnt to a Crisp,” allowing the bass to take the lead, and the low vocals reaching near subsonic levels. Exhumed turn “Exhume To Consume” into their own personal battle cry, adding an extra layer of caked-on entrails and a vile vocal turn. Disgorge pretty much rule the day by forcing “Hepatitic Tissue Fermentation” inside out, starting out with a lo-fi grindfest, then switching on a dime to a death/mosh outburst, then back to the grind, then to some crossover thrash, then to a fucking awesome extended coda riff accompanied by gurgles and gasps, with some counterpoint solo work so clean and angelic that it hurts. Machetaze totally panzerize “Supporation” into a wall of red noise, with an awesome Cramps-esque bass break right in the middle that takes control for the rest of the song. General Surgery shudder through “Empathological Necroticism” beautifully, at times using unrecognizable low register vocals that sound like a stomach digesting itself, and some extra white noise on the outro. Necrony muscle their way quickly through “Pungent Excruciation,” with some powerful drumming, and in a moment of sheer inspiration, they pause the whole fucking song right in the middle for just one second, and then it kicks back in, twice as fast and twice as deadly. Metal thrashing mad! They’ve got a bright future. Dead Infection’s take on the same track fares less well, using a slightly faster tempo. Impaled handle “Carneous Cacoffiny” quite well, preserving all of the tension of the original, and the brilliant closing riff, even throwing in a little tease of “Lavaging Expectorate of Lysergide Composition” to really get me drooling. Vulgar Pigeons disappointed me with their take on “Corporeal Jigsore Quandary,” all of the thrashy subtlety was flattened out under an avalanche of blast beats. Bodies Lay Broken and their interpretation of “Microwaved Uterogestation” win the “sickest band on the comp” award with their distorted bass-driven spew, and vocals that closely resemble a small animal being thrown into a wood chipper. Disturbing stuff. Coincidentally, it’s the shortest track as well. Engorged do “Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency,” sounding like they’re trying to forcibly burst through your chest cavity from the inside; nasty sound with some priceless screams. Avulsed’s version of “Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment” is executed with brutal confidence, not one note is mislaid. Regurgitate’s “Psychopathologist” is the aural equivalent of projectile vomiting — blinding, brutal, and sudden, bolstered by still more of those stomach-churning vocals. So beautiful.

I roadtested it with some friends from high school, death metal fanatics from way back. One of ’em pointed out that the album is good, but instead of making you curious about the bands paying tribute, it makes you want to go out and buy second copies of all of your old Carcass albums. Gee, that’d sure be a shame•

Necropolis, PO Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94539-4815; http://www.deathvomit.com

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