I have to start with an erratum for the interview I had the chance to do with Jeff Walker a week ago. I thought the single Captive Bolt Pistol was not on 'Surgical Steel', but it is on the CD. I've been a bit misled: The 'Surgical Steel' track-listing on www.nuclearblast.de showed me a song entitled Carcass as song #10 (that could have been an eponymously entitled song), instead of Captive Bolt Pistol. So I plead guilty, but with mitigating circumstances.
I am an old Carcass fan. I worship the band's discography, especially 'Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious', 'Heartwork' and 'Swansong', which are as different as they are masterpieces impossible to ignore. As a continuation of 'Swansong', I can also warmly recommend 'Wake Up and Smell the... Carcass' and its first five songs, as an extension of 'Swansong'. You are also welcome to enjoy some cadaveric, creepy fun from an autopsy room, with the two first records 'Reek of Putrefaction' and 'Symphonies of Sickness'.
Of course, I am not objective, but who is. And at the time I discovered 'Necroticism', it was just another buy from a good review I read, nothing more, until I put it in my CD player: an explosive cocktail of tortured, incredible, dark riffs in a perfectly used B tuning, furious growls with a graspable diction, and great melodies as well, with originality and personality. It's the kind of English touch I have appreciated since... the Beatles, basically.
Loving a band's music does not mean you can swallow everything. You have also to be demanding, according to the quality you got before. I mean, I have been following Metallica for almost three decades, enjoyed them on stage many times from their marvellous concert in Paris during the .And Justice for All tour and afterwards, but St Anger gathers dust on my CD shelf...
So I have high expectations to 'Surgical Steel', as I only have discovered the tip of its iceberg with Captive Bolt Pistol, a top efficient song. After 1985, a Maidenian intro, the tsunami gets me from Thrasher's Abbatoir («. Brutalization, Humiliation, Annihilation...») and washes me away until the last note of the progressive piece Mount of Execution. I am not disappointed, definitely not! It is a real metal album designed to be listened to entirely, without interruption, like you do with 'Master of Puppets', 'Reign in Blood', 'Human' or 'Grin'.
Jeff told me that 'Surgical Steel' is what you get after putting the band's back catalogue in a mincing machine. After having listened to the album my feeling is that Carcass resumes today the work they left unfinished seventeen years ago: the ingredients are the dynamics of 'Heartwork' and the groove of 'Swansong'. Does it mean that 'Surgical Steel' sounds dated? Quite the opposite, because Carcass' music was and still is a metal style in itself, out of time, with modern as old-fashioned elements.
The riffs, the bridges, the breaks kill, as usual. The guitar solos and harmonies are terrific, as usual, with this unique Death'n'roll touch. I can already hear, through these mp3 files, that it was a simple, but excellent idea to call Colin Richardson back for the production: the real CD will show me an even better sound panorama.
What about the band? Bill Steer and Jeff Walker, the old dogs, defeat many youngsters once and for all. What about the newcomers? Ben Ash seems to be perfectly integrated. I have always thought that Aborted was Carcass' heir, so Daniel Wilding's choice is more than coherent.
Carcass is back, I mean, really back. I can call Arioch and the other Lords of Chaos to witness that it makes me violently happy.
I hate to say this, but I couldn't agree more with you, Phil. 'Surgical Steel' shows how a band can have a vision, but the timing simply isn't right to go ahead with it. The tail end of the nineties simply wasn't the right time to continue the vision which had included 'Necrotism', 'Heartwork' and 'Swansong'. The business and whatnot put an end to it, much to the regret many a metal fan, myself included. Even if Jeff and Ken tried to live the vision a bit with Blackstar (which I had the pleasure of experiencing live at the Glasgow Cathouse back in the day), it simply wasn't the same without Mike Amott and particularly Bill Steer.
Now's the time to relive the vision, and, blimey, is it lived! Combining elements from the last three albums with a modern production, 'Surgical Steel' simply slays. The tapestry of metal music the four Brits manage to weave is nothing short of amazing. Death metal, rock'n'roll, progressive music, breaks and superb musicianship come together yet again and form the unique Carcass style and feel. This will easily be my album of the year.