The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Carcass – Heartwork
Carcass. The name itself instantly embeds an image of something dead and left to rot, but if you happen to listen to metal music, then perhaps you might find yourself thinking of the goregrind/melodic death metal band who hailed from Liverpool, England. Once going by the name of Disattack, and playing hardcore/punk, they eventually changed their name and gravitated towards goregrind with the release of their first full-length album, Reek of Putrefaction. Overtime though, the band moved on to a more death metal sound, and it wasn’t until Heartwork came out that we saw the band evolve into melodic death metal. Along with albums such as Slaughter of the Soul and The Jester Race, Carcass’s Heartwork is one of the first melodic death metal albums to be released, and one of the most popular and influential in the entire genre.
While they started out as grindcore pioneers along with Napalm Death, their transformation to melodic death metal is what they’re most known for. Heartwork is one of those albums that would become the basis for the melodic death metal sound that would soon follow. At the time of Heartwork being released, bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Edge of Sanity and Hypocrisy were just beginning to breakthrough in the genre, but Carcass solidified themselves as one of the best, and this album culminated everything that they were capable of.
Heartwork is amazing on both fronts, as the band and the production come together to create an album that still sounds great after all these years. The guitar tone, drum sound, and every thing else on this album is sharp and crisp. Although, the heart of Heartwork, much like it is with most metal albums, is the guitar work. With this album being pretty much guitar-oriented, both Bill Steer and Michael Amott establish themselves as one of the most complete, dexterous and outstanding pair of axe-men in metal. Of course after the demise of Carcass, Amott went on to form Arch Enemy with his brother, but his work with Carcass is easily some of his best. The entire album will have you banging your head, as it’s completely full of catchy, creative and all around violent sounding riffs, which vary from slow and moody, as is evident in the opener, ‘Buried Dreams’, to more visceral and fast, as presented in the beginning of the title-track, ‘Heartwork’.
Carcass – ‘Buried Dreams’
Another highlight of the album are the vocals of Jeff Walker, which are harsh in execution. The guy has this voice that easily becomes the focal point in most songs, and in some cases, they become more engaging than the guitars. He has this aggressive, sickening rasp that just cuts through you, and once you hear it, you will remember it. No other vocalist has come close to mimicking it perfectly, and that adds to the memorability of Heartwork, as its become his own, and is recognizable among a sea of other metal vocalists. This is one of the reasons Walker has become one of my favorite vocalists, I always gravitate towards those who have an unmistakable approach/sound to their vocals. His style is so unique, that over the years as a vocalist myself, I’ve actually adapted his raw/harsh rasp into my vocal approach.
Some say Heartwork is where the band sold out, or strayed from their roots as a goregrind band. But in all honesty, they were originally a hardcore/punk band, so whose to say what they really strayed away from. This is an album that always makes an appearance in my rotation, and while that may not be often, it will never be absent from my ears for too long. Heartwork is an album that I recommend every fan of metal should have in their collection. Sure their last album, Swansong saw the band go out on lackluster note (opinion), but Heartwork is without a doubt an essential album that will never grow old or be replaced. I was lucky enough to see them on their reunion tour, and it turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, it’s right up there with the At The Gates reunion. Truly a classic band who released a classic album.
Carcass – ‘Heartwork’