SYMPHONIES OF SICKNESS (1989)
1) Reek Of Putrefaction; 2) Exhume To Consume; 3) Excoriating Abdominal Emanation; 4) Ruptured In Purulence; 5) Empathological Necroticism; 6) Embryonic Necropsy And Devourment; 7) Swarming Vulgar Mass Of Infected Virulency; 8) Cadaveric Incubator Of Endoparasites; 9) Slash Dementia; 10) Crepitating Bowel Erosion.
Already they are beginning to evolve. Arguably the best thing about Carcass is that, while the basic ideology of the band remains consistent throughout their career, (almost) no two albums by them sound the same — unlike so many of their metal peers, these guys could apparently get bored with formula real easy, and found it more fun to keep on experimenting with various ways they could get their Coroner's Message through to us.
Here, we have the songs putting on some fat, sometimes expanding to gigantic, five-minute running time periods, and, more importantly, a huge quantum leap in production values, so you can occasionally distinguish rhythm from lead guitar, and — oh horrors! — ever so often, even discern a necrolyrical bit or two. And while this makes the experience somewhat less extreme and grotesque (a danger in itself, because the only way to take Carcass seriously is to lack the bare means to take them seriously), you actually get to appreciate their skills a bit more. There are passages here that are individually memorable — for instance, the slow, riff-based introduction to ʽRuptured In Purulenceʼ, one minute of intense thrash brutality with clever alternation of continuous and «ruptured» (sorry) melody. Eventually, they pick up speed and launch into the usual messy pandemonium, but the introduction has already managed to plant a seed of respectability.
Or, if you take the opening number ʽReek Of Putrefactionʼ (add this to our ever-growing collection of song titles that did not appear on the album with the same title), you will find it introduced by a spooky guitar intro that borrows the Tony Iommi vibe, especially in that little vibrato bit that seems directly copped from ʽBlack Sabbathʼ. Later on, the riff reappears doubled with a high-pitched doom-laden lead guitar part — well worth waiting for as your ears are treated to the usual slash-and-burn speed gallop in the interim. And although not all the tracks feature these melodic elements, and none of the tracks are «melodic» through and through, we are still clearly dealing with a desire to add a little bit more individuality and expressivity to the tracks. You'd think that ʽEmpathological Necroticismʼ and ʽEmbryonic Necropsyʼ should sound completely the same, but they don't. Well, not quite completely.
That said, Symphonies Of Sickness is clearly a transitional album, and that's a risky state of affairs where, if the stars were lucky, you could satisfy everybody — or, if they weren't, nobody. The melodic bits really sound more like «teasers», sometimes entertaining you for very short bits as elementary separators of the sludgy verses; and the increased song length only rarely works for the better, because they aren't really expanding them into Metallica-style multi-part thrash anthems or anything like that, and there is still no way that they can make the speed-based grooves too distinct from each other. Eventually, even though the record is only slightly longer than its predecessor, it wears me out a bit faster, and the last three or four songs become just a tedious blur. But I can also see where hardcore fans of extreme metal would call this their favorite — because it does completely retain the insane-grotesque-evil aura, while seriously improving on the production; already the next record could be judged as a serious betrayal of faith by some of these people. In short, this is their «cleanest dirtiest» album, if you need a really brief summary.