Carcass – Torn Arteries (Album Review)

Carcass – Torn Arteries
Released: 17 September, 2021

Line Up: 

Bill Steer | Guitar, Vocals
Jeff Walker | Bass, Lead Vocals
Daniel Wilding | Drums
Tom Draper | Guitars

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Death metal originators Carcass have had quite the career – from their initial cult grindcore records to the melodic death masterpiece Heartwork to their break up and eventual reunion in 2007. The fruits of that reunion – 2013’s Surgical Steel – was a combination of aggressive songs with melody that ensured Carcass were just as relevant as they were at their peak. The desire to hear new music has only increased the last few years and whilst the appetite was met with the 4 track EP, Despicable, it’s fair to say that release only made us more hungry for a full Carcass experience. Torn Arteries has a lot to live up to, both as addition to the Carcass legacy and 2021’s most anticipated death metal releases. 

They really don’t fuck around either. The title track, ‘Torn Arteries’, gets straight into a death metal stomp with flesh tearing lyrics that echo back to their early albums. It’s a killer track and one that is immediately comfortable. The ludicrously titled ‘Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 in B)’ is a slower jam that highlights Jeff Walker’s distinctive growl. It’s a different sounding song for the band, built around the drums. The ‘march’ part of the title really comes through the rhythmic tom work of Daniel Wilding. It’s serious stuff though, even if the band are self aware they are encompassing the genre’s tropes. Walker even notes that “You’re failing to see the funny side” before barking “What’s the joke?” I for one don’t question Mr Walker’s sincerity. 

Certainly ‘Eleanor Rigor Mortis’ is a jokey pun but it’s a serious thrasher too with some great lead work, reminiscent of Heartwork. The solos are sick too and will trigger your air guitar with little warning. ‘Under the Scalpel Blade’ is another familiar track having been released as a single in 2019 and it appeared on the Despicable EP. It’s fast when it needs to be but slows down into a groove too. It’s a combination of classic Bill Steer guitar tone with modern progressive elements (but hardly prog). 

There is definitely a push and pull happening across the album – moments of classic Carcass with newer and different sounds. It never strays too far away, they don’t suddenly bust into a reggae beat, but it makes for an interesting listen. What’s also notable is that a number of the songs are really catchy – see the demonic fun of ‘The Devil Rides Out’, which could almost be a cover of an unreleased Iron Maiden song. The false ending is freakin brilliant too. ‘In God We Trust’ is another fire storm of a track, with a slow tri-tone intro into a full gallop that is also pretty stock for the band. ‘Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited’ has the hallmarks of their traditional sound, even down to the long title, but starts with an acoustic intro and moves between grind and melodic sections. It’s nearly 10 minutes long too, but moves at a great tempo for headbanging and just generally thrashing around, plus there is a grind breakdown and a bluesy guitar solo. Sonic torment indeed! “The Circus is leaving town” is an appropriate refrain too. ‘Kelly’s Meat Emporium’ could almost be considered another stock song by comparison, in fact the band’s working title was “Stock Carcass”, since it really does feature the meaty riffs the band is known for, delivered with surgical precision. Walker’s conviction is spooky and it has some serious thunder when it goes for speed.  

‘Wake Up and Smell the Carcass – Caveat Emptor’ is different again, with a groove riff and repetitive hook that leads into a drum heavy passage with an almost hard rock riff. The tone is still there but it’s very different to the proceeding tracks and even utilises some clean rhythm guitar for texture. The lead work is spot on too. The closing track ‘The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing’ is also a great track that starts somewhere different with a guitar duel and some great lead work. Walker changes up his vocal style too, from deep belows to  spoken word verses. Steer’s backing vocals really add to this one too, increasing the growl factor substantially. 

Carcass have really upped their game, and I could see some purists being frustrated, but ultimately it’s been fairly consistent that the band’s sound evolves and Torn Arteries is no different. Considering the delayed release and teases, the hype has been substantial but they meet expectations by being true to themselves and trying a few different things. The album artwork is a dead give away to be honest. The image of rotting fruit and veg in the shape of a heart is classic old school Carcass but the plain white background hints at something different. The result is an album for headbanging death metal with all the killer guitar work you’d expect, and some pretty despicable lyrics. That’s the appeal though – you can take them as seriously as you want or approach it with tongue in cheek – either way you’ll have a great time. 

Carcass – Torn Arteries tracklisting

  1. Torn Arteries 
  2. Dance Of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 In B) 
  3. Eleanor Rigor Mortis 
  4. Under The Scalpel Blade 
  5. The Devil Rides Out 
  6. Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited 
  7. Kelly’s Meat Emporium
  8. In God We Trust 
  9. Wake Up And Smell The Carcass – Caveat Emptor 
  10. The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing 

Rating: 8/10
Torn Arteries is out September 17, 2021 on Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-Order here
Review By – KJ Draven (Twitter). Instagram: @kjdraven 

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