Death legends Carcass rip out guts again, surgically bludgeon into psyches with ‘Torn Arteries’

It’s been a downright cosmic and strange era for metal’s classic bands as so many of them have offered up really strong material lately including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, At the Gates, and Helloween. Not sure what the reasoning is for that (maybe they’re just all really great bands?), but it’s been a huge benefit for the fans and for the artists’ respective legacies.

One of the bands that first reminded us that the pioneers could still fucking go was Carcass, who did that with bloody precision eight years ago with “Surgical Steel,” their first in 17 years at that point. Plus, they delivered that smoke on the road (when I saw them, Bill Steer was violently ill, and I had no idea), so anyone who had counted them out had to feel like a jackass. They’ve delivered yet again on “Torn Arteries,” their seventh overall full-length and a tremendous piece of work that has 10 tracks blasted over 49 minutes. The band—the aforementioned guitarist Steer is joined by vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker, guitarist Tom Draper, and drummer Daniel Wilding—sounds spry, channeled, and like they’re having a fuck of a good time knocking these songs out, and every ounce of this thing is juicy and exciting.  

The title track gets things going with the drums crushing and the riffs churning, verses hammering away and getting your blood pumping. Portions are thrashy as hell as the leads burn, and the speedy fun comes to a mashing end. “Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1)” again proves their knack for great song titles as the drums stomp and the riffs tangle, rising gloriously over the chorus. The vocals chew tendons while the soloing injects a sense of fun, the vocals spit over the chorus, and the guts are stomped out. “Eleanor Rigor Mortis” begins with guitars soaring and Walker’s vocals sounding particularly abrasive. The chorus chars and rumbles as the playing chunks and simmers, the leads glide, and everything catches fire before the blistering takes hold. “Under the Scalpel Blade” also was on their “Despicable” EP and the Decibel Flexi series before that, and it’s bludgeoning and memorable, a classic cut that’s going to endure as a modern favorite. “The Devil Rides Out” unloads heat and strong guitars, adding muscle and a stamping out the idea of Satanism, which is not typical for metal. But this is Carcass, and Walker wailing, “Get behind me, Satan,” bristles as speed jostles, and the end rips out the guts and tosses them on the scrap pile.

“Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited” is the longest track, running 9:53, an uncharacteristic move for this band. It lands heavy shots, with Walker wailing, “Repulsive!” as sinewy guitar work manages to glisten. The band digs in its claws as the guitars race, and a quick cooldown slips in before things melt hard. The chorus rounds back, the band rubs your face in cinders, and the end erupts in pain. “Kelly’s Meat Emporium,” which is named after a real place, has zany guitars and drums that destroy skeletal structures, as the pace slaughters, and the bass pummels. The band blinds with speed in spots, and then it’s all dumped onto the killing floor. “In God We Trust” has guitars blasting into the atmosphere, the vocals strangling, and the leads going off. There’s a, and I swear I’m not making this up, hand clap section that’s weird but fitting? The band keeps adding punches before the tracks spins off into the night.  “Wake Up and Smell the Carcass / Caveat Emptor” has drums rolling into a death groove, more raspy howls, and the guitars hitting the gas for the song’s second part where the punches tenderize the ribs, and things end abruptly. “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing” ends the record by coming out of the gates swinging, even feeling moody in spots. The warning of death is in the air aa the band speeds and mauls, with Walker’s howls of, “Rewind the death clock,” reminding that doom is near. The leads crush as the playing opens your belly with Walker wailing, “Tick! Tick! Tick!” as the record times out.

More than three decades in the game hardly have had an impact on Carcass as they keep unleashing the rowdy and infectious death metal they do so well. “Torn Arteries” is a nice step up from “Surgical Steel,” a record it’s somewhat in line with but also stands apart from with its increased freshness. This record is fun, violent, and massive, and it’s another fresh slab from the unstoppable Carcass machine.  

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