Any discussion on the origins of Grindcore and Death Metal absolutely has to include Carcass on the shortlist of the genres’ progenitors. If you require official justification for an assertion of that magnitude, check the subject’s authoritative bible, Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore by Decibel editor Albert Mudrian. Carcass is prominently featured early on, and Mudrian includes four of the band’s five original full-lengths and the Tools of the Trade EP as part of his “Choosing Death Essential Discography.”
Perhaps most notably, renowned British DJ John Peel, an early and enthusiastic fan of Extreme Metal, namechecks Carcass in his introduction to Choosing Death, one of the last official pieces he wrote before his 2004 passing.
Carcass began in Liverpool, England, nearly 30 years ago as Disattack, with guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Ken Owen as founding members. With the departure of two members and the arrival of bassist Jeff Walker and vocalist Sanjiv, the quartet was renamed Carcass and recorded Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment, the demo that landed them their first contract. Carcass’ official debut, the raw and raggedly thrilling Reek of Putrefaction (sans Sanjiv, who left after the demo), caught Peel’s ear, earning the band a spot on the DJ’s playlist and a pair of Peel Sessions.
Enduring several lineup shifts, Carcass eventually gravitated toward a more Rock-based Metal sound for 1993’s Heartwork and the aptly named Swansong. By the time of Swansong’s 1996 release, Carcass had already broken up, with members moving to Blackstar Rising, Arch Enemy and Firebird.
In 2007, Carcass reunited with Steer, Walker, guitarist Michael Amott and drummer Daniel Erlandsson (replacing Owen who suffered a devastating cerebral hemorrhage in 1999) for festival dates in Germany and Finland and reissued its entire back catalogue on Earache in 2008. After maintaining a regular festival schedule for five years, Amott and Erlandsson left to focus on Arch Enemy, and drummer Dan Wilding was brought in because of his sonic similarity to Owen. As a result, Carcass recorded its first new music in 16 years for 2012’s Surgical Steel, an album almost universally praised as a brilliant addition to their canon and a return to form.
If you pick at only one Carcass this year, make it this one.
CARCASS plays at Madison Theater Sunday, Nov. 9. Find tickets/more info here .