Carcass may be the only band (if my nonexistent research is correct, and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t) that can claim to have founded two prominent metal sub-genres. Not only were these guys worshiped by the goregrind bands to follow but, just as soon as these fans scolded them for moving into melodic territory, it became apparent that Carcass had launched a whole ‘nother battleship into metal’s contentious waters. That vessel was melodic death metal and the album Heartwork is often cited as its maiden voyage. Hop in the time machine, but buckle your seatbelt more carefully this week, kids. I love doing this highlight thing every Thursday; it feels like some retro metal Sportcenter thing. Maybe it’s time for theme music?
They also played death metal with the grimy vibes of a grunge band. Micheal Amot’s work with Spiritual Beggars starts to make more sense considering stoner rock is grunge’s distant cousin. Some metalheads find this point to be a negative but I’ve always found it to be a cool overtone to get from such a heavy artist.
Carcass – Buried Dreams
The guitar harmonies and subsequent driving riff on this track are nothing short of iconic for my personal descent into death metal as a teen. You have no idea how many of my garage riffs sound like this one. Sadly, some band’s riffs still do.
Carcass – Heartwork (music video)
This video is grimy and avoids flash with purpose much like the bands music. Things that are Carcass cornerstones, dusty jeans, jamming in what looks like a garage and shaking mops of hair which conceal the dudes’ faces for the whole video.
…and as a bonus piece of cross analysis, we have Fleshgod Apocalypse with the bonus track on their newest rellease.
Carcass – The Embodiment
The crooked, almost “sour” sounding melodies that lead into driving power chords on “The Embodiment” are a microcosm of the band’s identity during this period. This was kind of their signature and has never been replicated as most melodic death metal bands went full Iron Maiden with their sense of melody and progression in the coming years.
Carcass – This Is Your Life
Of course, the band also often flipped this and started the ass kicking party early only to drift into these off-kilter melodic progressions. No, no, not drift like a dinky raft but like a fucking Destroyer battleship. At about 2:20 you’ll be swearing to yourself that even Pantera would look to emulate the grooves on this track.
Carcass – Carnal Forge
All through the album the production is crisp, candid, not ovrpolished and always helping to channel the grimy, singular heaviness which so reminds me of certain grunge bands. This may be one reason for die-hard fans’ accusations that Heartwork was a commercial departure from the gory death metal of past releases.
Carcass – This Mortal Coil
Death metal blasting and guitar harmonies followed by galloping rythms and dramatic video-game esque hooks foreshadow the Gothenburg sound which at the time was only in its fetal stages. This would be the approach that In Flames would take to a new level on Clayman,
Carcass – Arbeit Macht Fliesch
So, work makes meat, aye? This is either a commentary of the hypermobile corporate culture then in full swing during early 90s or an off-color slogan for a butcher shop. Either way, the song is fit for either brooding contemplation about the modern state of people’s livelihoods or a kickin’ soundtrack for you and your metal buddies playing Snappa.