Carcass are an extreme metal band from England, formed in 1985 and disbanded in 1995. A reunion was enacted in 2008 without one of its original members, drummer Ken Owen.
Although widely regarded as pioneers of the grindcore genre, their early work was also tagged as "splatter death metal", "hardgore" and "goregrind" on account of their morbid lyrics and gruesome album covers.
Early Days (1985-1989)
Carcass was formed as a D-beat band by guitarist Bill Steer together with drummer Ken Owen in 1985 under name 'Disattack'. After releasing demo A Bomb Drops... in 1986, Paul (bassist) and Andrew Pek (vocalist) of Disattack left the band and was replaced by vocalist Sanjiv and bassist Jeff Walker Jeffrey Walker , formerly guitarist and vocalist of the Electro Hippies. About that same time Bill Steer joined Napalm Death (replacing Justin Broadrick) and recorded the second side of what became ND's first album, Scum Scum (Napalm Death album) (1987). Walker also designed the cover art of that record.
The band had then changed its name to Carcass. In April 1987, they recorded the Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment demo, the only Carcass recording featuring vocalist Sanjiv, who left shortly after. Walker and Steer shared vocal duties for debut album recording, which was done in only four days. Despite the primitive production values of Carcass's debut, Reek of Putrefaction - something the band was very displeased with - it became a favorite of Radio 1 BBC Radio 1 legend John Peel. Due to his interest they were asked to participate in their first Peel Session Peel session#Peel Sessions , in 1989, where they debuted new material for the second album. The Peel Session was released as an EP with the band members adopting pseudonyms: K. Grumegargler, J. Offalmangler, W.G. Thorax Embalmer.
Symphonies of Sickness, the second album, along with much improved production (courtesy of Colin Richardson), featured more death metal structures, longer songs with more slow passages and guitar solos. The second half of the tour in support of 'Symphonies' saw the addition of second lead guitarist Michael Amott, whose previous work included Carnage Carnage (band) . Amott was to become a permanent member, playing on the second Peel Session and contributing material towards their third album.
Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious showed even more intricate composition, this time with a full-fledged transition into death metal, and further improved production with a slight bias towards Walker's vocals compared to Steer's. Despite the addition of Amott to the ranks, Steer still handled all rhythm guitar duties, despite the album credits, with Amott only contributing leads. Carcass again supported the album with heavy touring, and were part of the Earache 'Gods of Grind' tour with Cathedral, Entombed and Confessor in both Europe and the US.
The Tools of the Trade EP was released in 1992 to coincide with the 'Gods of Grind' tour. It featured a Necroticism track ("Incarnated Solvent Abuse"), a new track "Tools of the Trade", a re-recording of "Rotten to the Gore" from the first album and a re-recording of "Hepatic Tissue Fermentation" from the Pathological compilation. Although it is hinted that the 3 bonus cuts were recorded at the same time as Necroticism, they show a dryer production/mix to the aforementioned album.
Heartwork, released later in the year in 1993 was considered a radical change by many fans, eliminated Steer's deeper vocals and the clinically gory lyrics. Again, Steer handled all rhythm guitar duties to help gain consistency between the many layered guitars that built Carcass' best production to date. Song structures, whilst still containing musically complex parts, were simpler, in some cases using the verse/chorus/verse formula.
After the release of Heartwork, Carcass received a worldwide deal with Columbia Records, who hoped for a commercial success, even suggesting that Jeff Walker learn how to sing. Fan reaction was split between the charge that Carcass were no longer playing death metal at all and appreciation of the technical accomplishment the album shows. In fact, today some credit Carcass with being a very early founding influence for not just one, but two genres of metal - grindcore (or, more specifically, goregrind), and the modern melodic death metal sound melodic death metal . Michael Amott left the band right after Heartwork was recorded and was for a while replaced by Mike Hickey who was later replaced by Carlo Regadas.
During the summer of 1994 Walker remixed the track "Inside Out" for a Die Krupps remix album, although the version stayed fairly true to the original with the exception of Owen's drum samples from Heartwork replacing the Die Krupps original, and additional mixing from Walker and Colin Richardson at Parr Street studios (where Heartwork was recorded).
Carcass now set about writing songs for their major label debut. During the December 1994 UK tour Carcass showcased two songs from their current writing sessions - "Edge of Darkness" and "Firmhand", both showing a more straight forward song writing approach than on previous efforts. Around this time, "Edge of Darkness" was recorded for the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show sessions - a session which could be found on later compilation albums.
By late 1994 17 songs were ready and the band set about using their $200,000 advance to record the album, again with Colin Richardson, at Rockfield studios in Monmouth, South Wales in early 1995. During the 6 week recording schedule the record label began to withdraw support, stating that they (Carcass) were not ready to record and needed to write more songs. This advice was ignored, as was the suggestion to have Terry Date (Pantera, Prong etc) 'remix' the album, and the band continued. At the time, Jeff Walker stated in an interview with the UK's Metal Hammer Magazine that the album was taking more of a classic rock approach, with drums, bass and twin guitars à la Thin Lizzy in comparison to earlier 'multi-layered guitar' productions. This has since been put down to Bill Steer's unwillingness to perform the time consuming guitar layering (as once again Steer handled all rhythm guitar) through losing interest in the metal genre.
During the Swansong recording sessions, Carcass were asked to remix a Björk track - "Isobel". This wasn't a remix as such but more of a re-recording with only Björk's vocals remaining. All rhythm guitars were handled by Steer, and the track saw light of day in March 1996 on Björk's "Hyperballad" single.
Due to continuing record company problems with Columbia/Sony causing the album to be delayed from late Summer 1995 to June 1996, in which time Carcass moved back to the Earache Records label and broke up before even releasing Swansong. The move back to Earache was dubbed by Walker as "the second great rock and roll swindle" (Kerrang! - June 96) as they had effectively been paid twice for the same album.
Swansong, which featured twelve of the seventeen tracks put to tape during the recording sessions, drew some criticism from fans for its melodic riffs which in some ways bordered on late 1980s thrash thrash metal . This last official album also incorporated more melodic elements ("Tomorrow Belongs to Nobody", "R**k the Vote") and some doom metal elements ("Don't Believe a Word").
The album only featured twelve of the seventeen songs recorded in the Swansong sessions (or thirteen on the original brain shaped edition with the bonus disc). Kerrang! reported in June 1995 that prior to Swansong's release, Carcass would be releasing an EP featuring two tracks from what would be Swansong and three songs from the sessions that would not make the final LP. However, this EP was never released, most likely due to the lack of record company support for newly recorded material.
Walker has since stated in interviews that all seventeen songs should have been included in a double album, and that some songs omitted from Swansong were actually stronger than some of Swansong's actual content.
Carcass also remixed (i.e. re-recorded but kept the vocals of) Killing Joke's "Democracy", although this time Carlo performed all guitar duties as it is thought Steer had quit the band by early 1996. The Carcass "Rooster" Mix was made available on Killing Joke's Democracy, and if it were not for the vocals, would not be out of place on Swansong.
Around the time of Swansong's release, Carcass informed the press that Carcass were to call it a day without even a farewell tour, but most fans had guessed this may be the case via the album title.
The album sold well, staying near the top of the 'Indie Rock Chart' in the UK for several months above bands such as Placebo Placebo (band) despite having no touring support from the band. It is rumoured that the band were offered several lucrative tours in 1995, such as supporting Iron Maiden Iron Maiden (band) on their "X-Factour 95" which had the album been released as expected in 1995 could have improved the band's sales and longevity.
A posthumous compilation, Wake up and Smell the... Carcass was released in October 1996 to collect together Carcass' rarer material. This included the five Swansong session songs that did not make the final Swansong album, four tracks from the 1994 Radio 1 Rock Show session, the two Heartwork EP tracks, the non-album tracks from Tools of the Trade EP, and the tracks from the Pathological and Grindcrusher compilations respectively.
An accompanying video was released a few weeks after the Wake Up CD with little knowledge from the band or their management (Point Blank Management). The video, later released on DVD, featured five of the band's promotional videos, a show from the Grindcrusher 1989 tour (as a three piece) and a show from the 1992 Gods of Grind tour. Sound on the two live shows is poor, particularly the latter which Walker has described as 'unmixed'.
Ken, Jeff and Carlo continued with the Blackstar Blackstar (band) project accompanied with former Cathedral Cathedral (band) bassist Mark Griffiths, using the second Swansong advance (from Earache) to fund the recording. Blackstar (later Blackstar Rising) became defunct after Ken suffered from a severe brain haemorrhage. Michael Amott went on to found hard rocking combo Spiritual Beggars and Arch Enemy Arch Enemy (band) , a successful Swedish Sweden melodic death metal band. In the biggest musical departure, Bill Steer reappeared in Firebird Firebird (band) , a Clapton-esque guitar-rock trio.
In June 2006, in an with Walker, he discussed the possibility of reforming Carcass, but it was unlikely that Owen will participate as he cannot replicate his former drumming proficiency due to his health problems.
In September 2007 it was announced by Michael Amott that he is rehearsing with Bill Steer, Jeff Walker and Daniel Erlandsson (replacing Ken Owen, who is incapable of playing a full set with Carcass due to health reasons) in secret to rehearse old Carcass songs for a possible reunion tour. The original plans were to play at several festivals during the summer, but they couldn't meet the deadlines.
On October, 2007, Carcass were confirmed to play at German Germany heavy metal festival Wacken Open Air and Finland's Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in 2008. Carcass also embarked on a reunion tour which started June 6, 2008. Including Wacken Open Air and Tuska Open Air, Carcass played at Hellfest Summer Open Air, Metalcamp and several other festivals. In mid-2008 the band announced a tour of Australia and New Zealand and a North American tour which took place in September and October, 2008.
On November 15, 2008, Carcass headlined Danish Metal Awards held in Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark. This was the only chance for fans to see Carcass in Denmark, as Denmark is not part of the official tour 2008. Bill Steer also presented the award for Best Danish Debut Album which went to SCAMP - Mirror Faced Mentality. Carcass played a tight, very well sounding set and surprised the audience bringing Ken Owen to the stage where he gave a brief drum solo to show how far he has come recovering from his illness.
Carcass performed an Exclusive UK show at the Damnation Festival in Leeds, Jeff Walker hinted at the time that the Damnation performance may be their last ever show. It was the first time Carcass has played in England for 14 Years.
Carcass also re-released their entire back catalogue with bonus material over 2008 on Earache Records. When asked if the band were planning on writing and recording a new album, Steer replied:
The Carcass reunion show schedule continued in 2009; a North American tour was done in March 2009.
Carcass also headlined the Bloodstock Open Air in Derbyshire, England in August 2009. During the show, fireworks went off during a drum solo, and the band stated they were there due to being made a very good offer to play.
Carcass will also headline Jalometalli Metal Music Festival held in Club Teatria, Oulu, Finland on Saturday, 14 August 2010.In an episode of Red Dwarf, Bill Steer and Jeff Walker appear as members of Lister's fictional band 'Smeg and the Heads'.
* Jeff Walker Jeffrey Walker - vocals, bass guitar (1987–1995; 2007–present)
* Bill Steer - lead guitar, backing vocals (1985–1995; 2007–present)
* Michael Amott - lead guitar (1990–1993; 2007–present)
* Daniel Erlandsson - drums (2007–present)
* Ken Owen - drums, backing vocals (1985–1995)
* Mike Hickey - guitars (on tour 1993–1995)
* Carlo Regadas - guitars (1995)
* Sanjiv - vocals (1985–1987)
* 'A bomb drops' (1986) as Disattack
01. The next attack |
02. Drop dead |
03. Fashion faction |
04. Escape the dragon | >
* 'Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment' (1987)
01. Genital Grinder |
02. Regurgitation Of Giblets |
03. Festerday |
04. Limb From Limb |
05. Rotten To The Gore |
06. Excreted Alive |
07. Malignant Defecation |
08. Fermenting Innards |
09. Necro-Cannibal Bloodfeast |
10. Psychopathologist |
11. Die In Pain |
12. Pungent Excrutiation |
13. Face Meltaaargh | >
* 'Symphonies of Sickness' (1988)
01. Reek of Putrefacation |
02. Slash Dementia |
03. Embryonic Necropsy And Devourment |
04. Cadaveric Incubator Of Endoparasites |
05. Ruptured In Purulence |
06. Crepitating Bowel Erosion | >
* 'Heartwork' (1993)
01. Blind Bleeding the Blind |
02. Buried Dreams |
03. Carnal Forge |
04. Death Certificate |
05. Deliverance |
06. Doctrinal Expletives |
07. Heartwork |
08. No Love Lost |
09. This Mortal Coil |
10. Arbeit Macht Fleisch | >
* Reek of Putrefaction (Earache Records, 1988)
* Symphonies of Sickness (Earache Records, 1989)
* Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (Earache Records, 1991)
* Heartwork (Earache Records, 1993)
* Swansong (Earache Records, 1996)
* Pathologic (Earache Records, 1989)
* The Peel Sessions The Peel Sessions (Carcass EP) (Strange Fruit, 1989)
* Live at St. George's Hall (Distorted Harmony, 1990)
* Tools of the Trade (Earache Records, 1992)
* Gods of Grind (Split With Entombed, Cathedral, Confessor) (Earache Records, 1992)
* The Heartwork EP (Earache Records, 1993)
* Wake up and Smell the... Carcass (1996)
* Best of Carcass (Japan 2-CD) (1998)
* Requiems of Revulsion: A Tribute To Carcass (2001)
* Choice Cuts (2004)
*Reek of Putrefaction
*Corporal Jigsore Quandary
*Incarnated Solvent Abuse
*No Love Lost
*Keep on Rotting in the Free World
*Tools of the Trade
*Wake up and Smell the... Carcass (Two full live shows and all music videos)
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