Artist: Carcass

Album Title: Despicable

Label: Nuclear Blast

Date of Release: 30 October 2020

It is fair to say that over their lengthy career, Carcass have explored one or two avenues musically, beginning life as a deathgrind band, but ending up as something quite different. They evolved from a band delivering an uncompromising and technical extreme metal sound to one creating more and more melodic and accessible material, culminating in the classic ‘Heartwork’, released in 1993. To their credit, many still consider ‘Heartwork’ as one of the very first incarnations of the melodic death metal sound. After releasing ‘Swansong’ in 1996, Carcass went on an indefinite hiatus, only to reform in 2007 to go on tour. They eventually released a new album, ‘Surgical Steel’ in 2013, an album of which I am extremely fond.

Apparently, the purpose of ‘Despicable’, a four-track EP, is to whet the appetite of fans ahead of a full-length release in the near(ish) future. With tracks taken from the writing process of this new album, one hopes that these songs that didn’t make it onto the record are a portent of things to come. And that’s because these songs are out of the top drawer.

What I like about modern-day Carcass, today comprised of Jeff Walker (vocals, bass), Bill Steer (guitar, vocals), Daniel Wilding (drums) , and Tom Draper (guitars), is that they somehow manage to blend the best of both worlds into their music. Think heavy, dirty, and cunningly technical, with lots of grown-up and arresting melody to infiltrate the extreme fare. Oh yes, it is good, Very good.

Within seconds of opener ‘The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue’, I knew I’d like this release. A slow and ponderous riff kicks it off, but then in come the drums and rumbling bass, showing off a little, before we are treated to one of the grooviest and dirtiest death riffs I’ve heard for many a year. On top are some well placed lead guitar notes and Walker’s voice cuts through the molten music to great malevolent effect. Then, over the course of the next four or so minutes, Carcass take delight in mixing things up, from lightning fast, brutal aggression that calls to mind Nile at their most intense, to doom-paced churning, sludgy goodness. All the while, the technical proficiency is up there with the very best, whilst those melodic leads and flourishes just add something extra to proceedings. It has, dare I say it, an air of progressiveness to it, such is the way in which the track weaves this way and that with seeming ease.

‘The Long And Winding Bier Road’ is a much more straight-forward track, if such a statement can be levelled at Carcass. Generally at a pleasing mid-tempo stomp, it contains a winning groove, with understated technical prowess, just to remind us of what these guys are easily capable of delivering. I hear a ‘Heartwork’ vibe to this track, especially in the catchy-as-hell lead guitar work, particularly towards the end of the song. The same kind of vibe is present on ‘Slaughter In Soho’, in that it is technical, but ultimately a mid-tempo delight, full of heaviness, spite, and power. The dual guitar riffs from Steer and Draper are immediately memorable, the cheeky lead guitar leads come with a classic hard rock swagger, whilst Walker spits his venom all over the musical soundscape wonderfully.

That leaves ‘Under The Scalpel Blade’ as the final piece to uncover on ‘Despicable’. Again, the pace is generally a mid-tempo stomp, but at points, it hits the fastest pace seen on this EP; when it lets rip, it literally threatens to rip my face off, I’m not kidding. And, in my book, that’s a hugely positive trait, I can tell you. If that wasn’t enough, the song also opens up in the latter stages to deliver something more melodic and almost anthemic, although it is short-lived and could have been explored just a little more for my tastes.

As I alluded to earlier, if this EP does contain songs that failed to make it onto Carcass’ next full-length, I can only begin to imagine just how good that’ll be. The musicality on ‘Despicable’ is insane, and it demonstrates a band that are not even close to losing their edge. On this showing, Carcass are hungry, Carcass are determined and, on this form, you’d not bet against them to conquer the extreme metal world once again. All hail Carcass!

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Mors Principium Est – Seven

Cult Of Lilith – Mara

Helion Prime – Question Everything

Soul Secret – Blue Light Cage

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews