torn arteries

Carcass´ Torn Arteries: the band´s self defining album

On September 17th and after 8 years, grindcore/goregrind pioneers released their new album Torn Arteries. Read our complete review on the long-awaited album from the Merseyside band, and learn why after Surgical Steel this is, without doubt, the best album of its genre in 2021. 

 From Reek of Putrefaction to Torn Arteries

Though it sounded a bit messy and was poorly produced, the band’s first album, Reek of Putrefaction, was released on July 7th 1988 and quickly became a turning point. Together with Napalm Death, it marked the beginning of grindcore as a death metal subgenre.

reek of putrefaction

This album became a must-have for all fans due to it being characterized by teenager, Bill Steer, the great down-tune B standard riffs, and the most powerful blast beats taken from crust punk. The medical terminology and grotesque visuals have also helped to make this album a classic.

This is the time when Carcass started making his own history in underground British heavy metal music.

Being educated in the glorious city of Liverpool, known for being the house of the Fab Four (The Beatles) by the end of the eighties, Carcass started to lead the way in the scene of protest music.

The history of the band can be traced back to around the time when preceding bands like Discharge and AntiCimex, among others, let off steam in times when punk rock started to sound more aggressive. Plus, heavy metal bands (particularly those belonging to NWOBHM, aka New Wave of British Heavy Metal) were not effectively developing their style; though, in the US, Death and Slayer were coming up with a creative and more aggressive sound with brutal guttural vocals and fast-paced riffs and tempos.

With their second studio album, Symphonies of Sickness, Carcass developed a consolidated sound and an aggressive attitude; their meticulous work in the production of this album paid off, and their audience continued to grow. It wasn’t for more than two years that the band honed in a more mature sound, with Necroticism Descanting the Insalubrious becoming a four-member band for the first time, adding Michael Amott (Carnage, from Arch Enemy today) to the line-up.

It wasn’t until the 1993 release of Heartwork that the group’s number of fans peaked. It rapidly became the critics’ favourite album, and it is known as the band’s best album. Not even beaten by their next album Swansong, which was unnoticed and led the way to the worst musical period of the group. The band split up just before the album’s release.

After their 2007 reunion, Carcass modified their line-up, and following a world tour, they released the long-awaited Surgical Steel. Again, they became a threesome with Bill Steer. After suffering from a brain haemorrhage, Ken Owen was replaced by Dan Wilding on the drums, though Owens never left the band for good.

Though Surgical Steel was a turning point in the history of the group in terms of sound and music quality, Carcass went even further: they gave us Torn Arteries.

Torn Arteries: The Best Was Around the Corner

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the music industry halted. By the end of 2019, Carcass announced they were releasing a new album by mid-2020. The announcement was a huge statement for fans considering the urgent need for new material after six years since Surgical Steel. The date was scheduled but COVID-19 spoiled any plans.

Finally, in October 2020 some traces of Torn Arteries suddenly appeared… Despicable was presented to and devoured by starving fans desperate for more content.

October was a slow-paced countdown to what was about to happen in September. Some sceptics made hateful comparisons between Despicable and Surgical Steel in terms of quality and style, though they ignored the best was about to happen.

Carcass Defined By Torn Arteries

What defines Carcass best is that they take their time to produce new material. Releasing an album every two years is not their priority. Surgical Steel came to fruition after many years of touring, and they didn’t even think about a new album. And Torn Arteries isn’t an exception. After eight years of production, they made a comeback.

Carcass is now enjoying the best time regarding music and creativity with an imposing sound and progressive style riffs. As we saw in Surgical Steel there’s no doubt Dan Wilding was the perfect and necessary member to join the band and make a great impact.  

‘Torn Arteries’, the opening song of the album, is a look back on the origins of the group in 1988. Speed and power from the very beginning became gradually even more aggressive: typical of this genre.

torn arteries

As we listen, Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March Nº1) takes us to another universe. Well defined sound and a pleasantly mid-tempo make this track the closest to a connection with its predecessor.

‘Eleanor Rigor Mortis’ is a starting point, for sure. Typical goregrind humour is present in the lyrics. This might be one of the best songs on the album. The perfect blend if you missed Bill Steer’s backing vocals.

Another outstanding song is ‘The Devil Rides Out’, starting with a great melodic riff, perfectly composed for this occasion and the right combination for Jeff Walker’s guttural vocals. Indeed, these riffs mark the song’s tempo changes.

If you ever thought that after ‘Mount of Execution’ we would never listen to a Carcass acoustic intro again, well, you’re wrong. ‘Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited’ is their best follow-up song – with a flawless intro that really proves Bill Steer is the mastermind behind this melodic sound. I believe this 9:42’ song has it all. It’s Carcass at its best.

Scythe’s ‘Remorseless Swing’ is the cherry on top at the end of this 49-minute savage feast, starting in crescendo with Torn Arteries to this last song, which includes melodies with Asian sounds complemented with Steer solos and unique rhythmic moments.

That said, is Torn Arteries the genre’s best album of the year? Yes, for sure. And for many reasons. Again, Carcass proves the passing of time is equal to maturity in their progressive sound.

Steer’s personal influences, and the legacy of blues and rock & roll harmonics, are perfectly included in their work and have a big impact on the powerful riffs. Learn more about this with Firebird, Bill Steer’s solo project, or the latest Gentleman’s Pistols.

The artwork is quite representative, maybe emulating Walker’s and Steer’s vegetarianism and Japanese art kusözu, which shows different stages of body decomposition.

No doubt Torn Arteries defines Carcass. It’s the album that best merges the past and the outstanding present of the group. It’s the majestic blend that expresses sobriety between the messy sound of Reek of Putrefaction and the subtlety in Surgical Steel. Torn Arteries is clearly a turning point as, needless to say, Carcass never disappoints.