CARCASS: WAKE UP AND SMELL THE... CARCASS (1996)
1) Edge Of Darkness; 2) Emotional Flatline; 3) Ever Increasing Circles; 4) Blood Splattered Banner; 5) I Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck); 6) Buried Dreams; 7) No Love Lost; 8) Rot 'n' Roll; 9) Edge Of Darkness; 10) This Is Your Life; 11) Rot 'n' Roll; 12) Tools Of The Trade; 13) Pyosified (Still Rotten To The Gore); 14) Hepatic Tissue Fermentation II; 15) Genital Grinder II; 16) Hepatic Tissue Fermentation; 17) Exhume To Consume.
An essential compilation for the band's loyal fans: released one year after Swansong, it collects most of the stuff that was only previously available on EPs and a bunch of outtakes and BBC Radio 1 performances that were not available at all. A couple of the songs repeat themselves (which is a little annoying, because the live versions are predictably hard to tell apart from the studio takes, except for worse sound quality), and a few more have since been added as bonus tracks to the remastered CD edition of Necroticism, but even so, with a total running length of 75 minutes, this is as much prime fresh rotten Carcass as one can stand.
Curiously, the tracks are sequenced «backwards», beginning with a bunch of outtakes from the Swansong sessions that I like much more than a true fan probably should — I think the basic riff of ʽEdge Of Darknessʼ, for instance, is one of the most terrifyingly melodic things they ever did, but, of course, it sounds way too much like Tony Iommi or any «regular», old-school-influenced metal band, so hardcore fans would give it the cold shoulder. ʽBlood Splattered Bannerʼ (a song about the old Dixie, with all of Carcass' grindgore imagery fanatically applied to the conservative South) is another relative highlight that could have benefited from cleaner vocals to go along with its political message, but even so, the riffage (a fun kind of wobble which you'd pretty much expect from a blood splattered banner, I guess) is impeccable. ʽI Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck)ʼ is a little less memorable, and besides, I am not sure if this particular track, which sounds fairly acceptable for MTV standards, really has the most convincing musical structure and texture to count as a true anti-corporate anthem.
Skipping the four live tracks, we arrive at EP material — Tools Of The Trade from 1992 and the two additional tracks on the Heartwork maxi-single. Of these, ʽRot 'n' Rollʼ is probably the most fun, alternating between military-martial mid-tempo and speedy metal-boogie (and "let's ROT!" should have always functioned as the band's prime slogan — if I find out they never tossed this into the crowd at any of their shows, I'd be much disappointed), whereas all the songs from Tools Of The Trade pretty much sound like anything on Necroticism — fast, ravaging, ridiculous, and not individually memorable. Finally, the last three tracks, taken off some obscure «various artists compilations», seem to date from even earlier periods (Symphonies Of Sickness era?) and remind us of the good old times when making out even one single word without the aid of a lyrics sheet would make you a genius of a practicing phonetician.
For the record, ʽExhume To Consumeʼ is a different version here from the one on Symphonies: slightly cleaner, and featuring a thirty-second necro-psychedelic intro with various weird threatening guitar noises — also, that unexpectedly melodic guitar solo in the middle is brought much higher in the mix. Maybe the idea was that they had to show themselves off a little bit more in terms of musicianship on a compilation, surrounded by such worthy competing acts as Cadaver, Carnage, Godflesh, Hellbastard, and Terrorizer (can you distinguish between all these bands?), or maybe I'm imagining things, but in any case, this one comes across as slightly «artsier» than it used to be. Nothing like an atmospheric intro to sweeten the impact of goregrind brutality.
In any case, for an outsider like myself the most «fun» part about this whole disc is that it rolls the tape backwards, and lets you revisit once more, over a short time period (especially if you throw out the somewhat superfluous Radio 1 tracks), the (almost) complete evolution of Carcass: now, however, in a mode of «backwards degradation» from an almost normal, classic-influenced metal band to the formless-nameless-dyslexic monster they used to be. Whatever one might think of heavy metal's formulaic limitations and its tendency to fall back upon self-parody, Wake Up And Smell The... is an obvious demonstration of how it is possible to evolve even within a rigidly set paradigm — and how it also makes total sense to break up once no further evolution becomes possible, instead of persisting within the same repetitive formula for decades.