Carcass – Torn Arteries Review

When English extreme metal legends and multi-genre pioneers Carcass dropped monumental comeback album Surgical Steel in 2013, it hit like a ton of bricks. Perhaps it partly boiled down to the sheer surprise factor of an unlikely return, combined with the unexpected level of quality after a 17-year gap since signing off with the often maligned Swansong in 1996. Recently in the AMG backrooms, a number of staff weighed in on their stance regarding Surgical Steel some eight or so years after the fact. I was a little surprised by the indifference shared by some, though I am certainly in agreeance the album can’t quite match the two masterpieces Surgical Steel leaned heavily on; Necroticism and Heartwork. Either way, I adored Surgical Steel upon release and it regularly finds its way into my rotation when the mood strikes for a Carcass fix. After less than compelling shorter form releases, consisting of Surgical Steel offcuts, rightfully consigned to B-side status, and solid if unexciting 2020 EP, Despicable, Carcass return with their hugely anticipated seventh LP, Torn Arteries.

Carcass mean a hell of a lot to me and were one of the critical legendary bands I fell for in my earlier years exploring extreme metal classics from the past, so keeping my fanboyism in check is no easy task. Straight up, Torn Arteries sounds like a logical sequel to its predecessor. and marks an admirable return, though lacks the fresh, edgier qualities and inspired writing of Surgical Steel. However, it carries over plenty of Steel’s modern punch and nostalgic self influences. Reeking of Heartwork inspired melodeath shreddage, Torn Arteries also leans into the swaggering groove-laced fix of Swansong, while the Necroticisms are less pronounced. Mainstays Jeff Walker (vocals) and Bill Steer (guitars, vocals) spearhead the familiar Carcass sound, rounded by long serving drummer Daniel Wilding, and guitarist Tom Draper.

While the deadlier edges of their prime are curtailed, precision musicianship and boundless energy ensure Carcass sound like anything but shuffling old geezers. Steer in particular riffs and shreds in vintage Carcass style, at times elevating less inspired tunes with gripping riffs and eloquent lead work, ably supported by Draper. The integration of Steer’s low register backing growls recall pre-Heartwork days, and is cool to hear, maintaining a tenuous, nostalgic grip to the sewage coated guttural symphonies of their early days. Similarly, Walker’s trademark snarling rasps still sound fresh. “Torn Arteries” bursts out the gate with riffy intent and thrashy urgency, a ripping start to proceedings. Along the journey, “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” carves into Necroticism and Heartwork-eras with slashing results. Previously released, “Under the Scalpel Blade,” showcases their blastier roots and endless knack for writing infectious hook-laden songs, featuring throwback flecks of nostalgia amid modern Carcass crunch. “Eleanor Rigor Mortis” consolidates the strengths of a potent front end of the album with chunky mid-paced grooves and inspired vocals sandwiched between thrashing rhythms and refined shreddage.

Despite the album’s relatively safe approach and comforting familiarity, Carcass are not bereft of new ideas. This is exemplified on 10 minute epic, “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited,” an intermittently cool longer form experiment which doesn’t quite have enough fuel to justify its length. Further problems set the album back a few pegs. Increased reliance on mid-paced chuggery and a rockier groove based approach deflates potency of the band’s trademark speedier and blasty dynamics, exemplified on less remarkable cuts, “In God we Trust” and “Wake Up and Smell the Carcass/Caveat Emptor.” This reduces some later album momentum, with the former inexplicably including fucking hand claps. Biting closer “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing” thankfully features a heartier collection of compelling riffs and smart dynamics to finish on a high note.

Torn Arteries is a very good, occasionally inspired offering from a timeless band, yet ultimately is a step down from its predecessor. The tools of the trade Carcass deploy here are not the dirty, rusty instruments of surgical depravity defining their early works, nor are they the clean, razor sharp blades of precision of Heartwork and Surgical Steel. Rather Torn Arteries is a slightly blunted instrument, it still cuts, but is more sanitized and less dangerous. Torn Arteries is an easy album to like and its infectious nature and accessibility may even win over some newer fans. Mileage may vary for long time fans, but overall, Torn Arteries marks a solid entry into an esteemed catalog; an enjoyable, flawed sequel to its blockbuster predecessor.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: carcass.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/officialcarcass
Releases Worldwide: September 17th, 2021

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