Home > Arts/Culture/Entertainment > Death-metal progenitors Carcass embrace their classic-rock era while keeping their scalpels sharp

Death-metal progenitors Carcass embrace their classic-rock era while keeping their scalpels sharp

During Carcass’s initial decade together, the Liverpool outfit staked a claim as one of the most influential extreme metal bands of all time. In the late 1980s, their first two albums defined the sound of goregrind—a subgenre still so closely associated with them that it’s often referred to as “Carcass worship.” Next, they created one of melodic death metal’s most iconic statements with 1993’s Heartwork. Three years later—before the release of the polarizing death ’n’ roll album Swansong—Carcass called it a day.  

Since re-forming in 2007, Carcass have toured fairly steadily and released two albums: 2013’s back-to-basics Surgical Steel and 2021’s Torn Arteries, on which the core trio of bassist-vocalist Jeff Walker, guitarist-vocalist Bill Steer, and drummer Dan Wilding look backward without getting stuck in a nostalgia trap. At times Torn Arteries feels like a sharper collection than its immediate predecessor. As the band revisit sounds they explored on their 90s albums, they incorporate classic-rock flourishes that manage to feel at home in the gory, grinding muck.

In a time when throwback death-metal bands all seem to pull from the same abysmal wells, Carcass take inspiration from their earliest musical fascinations to forge ahead. They’ve put out two songs that explicitly reference Liverpool brethren the Beatles: “Eleanor Rigor Mortis” from Torn Arteries and “The Long and Winding Bier Road” from the 2020 Despicable EP. They add playful power-pop handclaps to the Torn Arteries track “In God We Trust,” and Steer injects his grisly riffs with bluesy, soulful flourishes at nearly every turn. Cynics may see these twists as signs of a band straying ever further from their original ethos, but every detour ensures that Carcass remains not only vital to metal but also utterly singular. Skeptical old fans may turn up to Carcass shows and cross their arms during the new material, but when Walker throws his hand in the air and encourages the crowd to chant along with the band’s gurgling, grimy riffs, it’s impossible to deny the gods of grind.

Carcass Municipal Waste, Sacred Reich, and Creeping Death open. Tue 4/18, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, $37, $32-$34 in advance, 18+

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