Surgical Steel finds Carcass drawing inspiration upon their past and infusing that into current trends to create an absolutely stunning release.
It has been over 17 years since Carcass left us with Swansong. A band that shattered genre lines and provided the metal community with a body of work that was technical, varied and just overall amazing. Every album is a different twist and turn in the bands career, from their grind and noise roots to melo-death and rot-n-roll complacency with their sound was totally foreign to the group and their fans. Surgical Steel is not a typical release in the sense of Carcass from the 90s. Unlike past releases they do set foot in familiar territory here which is not a bad thing. Pretentious metal hipsters (you all know who you are) are sure to bitch acrimoniously in regard to the album. Even before its release one can almost hear their arguments forming about why this is not as good as past albums or why the band has “lost their touch”. While I believe people are entitled to their opinions, it would take a rather compelling argument to change the fact that Surgical Steel is one of the best death metal releases in the past 10 years.
1985 kicks off the autopsy here, with a precise cut right to the auditory nerves. One minute and fifteen seconds of pure, ambient guitar bliss preludes Thrasher’s Abattoir; another sub-two minute track that would have fit perfectly on any of their 90s releases. Walker and Steer prove that they have no lost a step and Dan Wilding (former Heaven Shall Burn) proves to be masterful behind the kit in replacing former drummer Ken Owen. The music on Surgical Steel is intense and walks the line between technical and melodic with a dancer’s grace. Many bands now try (and fail) to achieve the technicality and wizardry of the 90s death metal scene. The reason for this is when they strive for precise skill, they lose the ability to write a good song. I appreciate a good 11 minutes display of musical skill and ability as much as the next metal head; what Carcass does well is make that fit into a decent song. They show fast and furious riffing can be well done and technical at the same time. Every song on Surgical Steel brings something unique to the table, and fans are sure to find their favorite dish somewhere in the spread.
Using the term ‘spread’ may be taking things lightly here. Surgical Steel is more akin to a feast set forth before the listener. Each track has some cohesion with the next, and yet while they all flow together well there is an overwhelming shift as the meal goes on. If 1985 and Thrasher’s Abattoir are the hoers devours and the melody only grows from there. Each track gains progressively more style and substance as the album goes on. Like any good meal the listener is left completely satisfied at the end. The final track even comes with desert! After six minutes Mount of Execution ends and we are given two and a half minutes of excellent jamming from the band. The veritable cherry on top, or maybe more like the perfect stitch to close the incision.
It would be near criminal of me to not note the excellent production on Surgical Steel. Having been a fan of the band and genre for years this is absolute perfection in terms of recording. No muddied guitars or annoying trigger clicks. Everything is absolutely precise. An absolute stellar release and worth every second you will spend listening to it. After their ‘Swansong’ Carcass has arisen like a phoenix from the ashes.
2. Thrasher’s Abattoir
3. Cadaver Pouch Conveyor Syndrome
4. A Congealed Clot Of Blood
5. The Master Butcher’s Apron
6. Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
7. The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
8. Unfit For Human Consumption
9. 316 Grade Surgical Steel
10. Captive Bolt Pistol
11. Mount Of Execution