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Music / Carcass

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Left-to-right: Michael Amott, Jeff Walker, Ken Owen, Bill Steer.

Carcass is a highly influential metal band from England, formed in 1985 and disbanded in 1995. Originally formed by guitarist Bill Steer together with drummer Ken Owen in 1985 as a D-beat band under the name Disattack; after releasing their demo A Bomb Drops... in 1986, Paul (bassist) and Andrew Pek (vocalist) left the band and were replaced by vocalist Sanjiv and bassist Jeff Walker, formerly guitarist and vocalist of the Electro Hippies. About that same time Bill Steer joined Napalm Death (replacing Justin Broadrick) and recorded the second side of what became ND's first album, Scum (1987), which Walker designed the cover art of. Eventually, Disattack changed its name to Carcass.

Carcass began as a Grindcore band, they moved onto more Death Metal-influenced grind (known as "deathgrind") on Symphonies of Sickness before moving onto straight-up death metal on Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious and Melodic Death Metal on Heartwork and Swansong. They are considered one of the most influential extreme metal bands of all time, being a strong influence on grindcore and death metal bands and possibly even creating melodeath altogether. In 2007, they reunited and eventually released a new album in 2013.

Current lineup:

  • Bill Steer - guitars, backing vocals (1985–1995; 2007–present)
  • Jeff Walker - lead vocals, bass (1987–1995; 2007–present)
  • Dan Wilding - drums (2012–present)

Former members:

  • Michael Amott - guitars (1990–1993; 2007–2012)
  • Daniel Erlandsson - drums (2007–2012)
  • Ken Owen - drums, backing vocals (1985–1995)
  • Carlo Regadas - guitars (1995)
  • Sanjiv - vocals (1985–1987)
  • Ben Ash - guitars (2013–2018)
  • Tom Draper - guitars (2018–2021)

Studio albums:

  • Reek of Putrefaction (1988)
  • Symphonies of Sickness (1989)
  • Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991)
  • Heartwork (1993)
  • Swansong (1996)
  • Surgical Steel (2013)
  • Torn Arteries (2021)

Tropes that apply to Carcass:

  • Anti-Love Song - "No Love Lost" and "316L Grade Surgical Steel".
  • Artifact Title: Swansong averted this at the time it was releasednote , but since the band has not only gotten back together, but also recorded Surgical Steel since then, it's now playing this trope straight.
  • Black Comedy: "Empathological Necroticism", which is about a coroner getting high on the gases produced by putrefaction and making a mess out of an autopsy.
  • Darker and Edgier: Surgical Steel is much heavier than Swansong and contains much more violent imagery in the lyrics.
  • Death Metal - The bulk of their material, but Necroticism is their best example.
  • Epic Rocking - The Necroticism album has their longest tracks like "Inpropagation", "Symposium of Sickness", "Carneous Cacoffiny", and "Forensic Clinicism/The Sanguine Article".
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: The title of "Excreted Alive" implies this.
  • Gorn - Their lyrics, of course.
    • Averted since Heartwork, which focused more on social matters.
    • The gorn thematics came back in Surgical Steel, but without all the loquaciousness and squick employed in the first three albums, and are generally employed in a more allegorical manner.
  • Grindcore - Their first two albums.
  • Horrible History Metal: "The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills" is about the horrific conditions faced by factory workers during the Industrial Revolution.
  • I'm a Humanitarian - This trope shows up a lot in their early work.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: It was initially a Grindcore/Death Metal act for their first three of their five studio releases. 1993's Heartwork took a shift towards a more conventional style that became one of the biggest influences on Melodic Death Metal and other subgenres (such as Metalcore and Progressive Metal), and Swansong was a complete departure, being comprised of Blues-influenced Heavy Metal with discrete Death Metal aesthetics.
  • Lead Bassist: Jeff Walker is a Type B.
  • Lighter and Softer - Heartwork and Swansong, which toned down the aggression considerably and traded in the gore-filled lyrics for socio-political and personal subject matter.
  • Melodic Death Metal - Their last two albums, as well as Surgical Steel.
  • Metal Scream: Bill extensively used Type 2 in the first three albums while Jeff Walker uses Type 3.
  • Miniscule Rocking: The entirety of Reek of Putrefaction, which packs 22 songs in just 40 minutes. That's an average of less than 2 minutes per song. The longest song, "Oxidized Razor Masticator", is the only one that goes past the 3 minutes mark. The shortest song? "Festerday", which clocks in at just 22 seconds.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: More like Mundane Made Horrifying. "Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency" is a song about acne. Carcass manage to make such a trivial matter into Nightmare Fuel.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Reek of Putrefaction was a Trope Maker for goregrind
    • Symphonies of Sickness showcased more of a Death Metal sound while also having hints of goregrind.
    • Necroticism was a full departure from goregrind with Carcass fully embracing Death Metal while also showcasing a tech-death sound.
    • Heartwork was another Trope Maker, in this case for Melodic Death Metal.
    • Swansong had the melodeath from its predecessor mixed with Death 'n' Roll.
    • Surgical Steel was a return to the band's sound from Heartwork with a small hint of tech-death, a sound which continued on Torn Arteries.
  • Religion Rant Song: "A Congealed Clot of Blood" is a type 3, a Take That! against Islamic terrorism. "Embodiment" and "A Wraith in the Apparatus" qualify as Type 2 examples.
  • Rock Trio: During their first two album period (after which a second guitar player was on each album) and on Surgical Steel.
  • Sampling: used on Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: An inversion (pretty average guys, as shown above...who happen to be massive influences on a huge amount of Death Metal-related music).
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness - Their early lyrics actually use accurate medical terminology; you'd have to use a medical dictionary to understand a lot of it.
  • Shout-Out: John Zorn namedrops them as an influence on his album Radio by Naked City. "Grand Guignol" by Naked City justifies it's obsession with taboos, fear, terror and evil by making a comparison between historical authors, artists and musicians who made works inspired by these things. One of the names mentioned is Carcass.
  • Spiritual Successor - Arch-Enemy (featuring former Carcass guitarist Michael Amott). Thematically, Exhumed is probably the closest candidate, as they're easily the most successful Carcass-worship act at this point.
  • Vocal Tag Team: On their early works, the vocals would alternate between Bill Steer's deep growl and Jeff Walker's mid-range rasp.
  • War Is Hell: "Carnal Forge" and "Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System".