Carcass – Torn Arteries: Album Review

Carcass return with the follow up to Surgical Steel. Torn Arteries is another blood soaked album of gore infused melodic death metal.

You can also read our interview with Bill Steer, guitarist with Carcass, here.

Released: 17th September 2021

Label: Nuclear Blast

Format: CD / Vinyl / Box Set / Cassette / Digital

Carcass are true legends and stalwarts of the metal world. Championed by John Peel in the late 80’s, they moved from their Grindcore style to a more melodic death metal style in the 90’s with classics such as Heartwork and reformed to release Surgical Steel in 2013 to critical acclaim. In between there was wrangles with labels and such but now they seem to have found their home on Nuclear Blast.

Torn Arteries is, straight off the bat, a damn masterclass in melodic death metal. It’s eight years since Carcass released Surgical Steel and Torn Arteries picks up where that record left off.

(Photo: Hannah Verbeuren)

From the offset, the drumming on Torn Arteries is second to none. Dan Wilding delivers a masterclass throughout the record. The title track and album opener opens with a drum fill before the guitars of Bill Steer and Tom Draper begin the riff fest. A grunt from Jeff Walker, not too dissimilar from that of Tom G Warrior, means that Torn Arteries gets straight down to business. It is immediate, punishing and glorious.

Carcass have stated that they wanted to do something different with Torn Arteries. Dance Of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No.1 in B) – to give it its full title – shows one of many differences that set Torn Arteries apart. The drum beat is almost uplifting and has a different groove to that which you would associate with Carcass. The lyrics and vocal or Jeff Walker ensure that the song gets dark. For the uninitiated, Ixtab was the indigenous Maya goddess of suicide by hanging. 

Generally listed as being from Liverpool, Carcass nod their heads to Liverpool’s other Fab Four in the title of Eleanor Rigor Mortis. A furious guitar part smashes the senses before a slow, churning riff devours the song. Under The Scalpel Blade was featured on 2020’s Despicable EP; the band releasing and EP prior to the album whereas previously they had always put the extra bits from the sessions out afterwards. Blame COVID for that schedule.

According to Bill Steer, The Devil Rides Out was one of the first songs that was put forward for Torn Arteries. A weeping guitar line opens the song and throughout its duration it goes through many different sections and styles. Again, Dan Wilding’s drumming is spectacular and the crushing nature of the closing strains of the song will make you wince.

Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited is the longest song in the Carcass canon. Clocking in at just under ten minutes, this is genuinely an opus. An acoustic guitar melody adorns the introduction before a genuine journey ensues. There are tempo changes aplenty, hulking riffs, deathly vocals and blistering solos. In the second half of the song there is an epic solo atop an emotive and slow paced rhythm line. This part of the song is just one of many that you can really appreciate the production of the album. Again, the percussion is mind blowing. The title harks back to one of Carcass’s early EP’s too. A little nod to the past whilst still firmly keeping eyes on the road ahead. ‘Roll up to the sickest show on Earth,’ bellows Walker. I for one am firmly invested in this show.

Kelly’s Meat Emporium opens with a jazzy drum line before swinging into a fast paced groove with some lovely dual guitar work from Steer and Draper. You can also notch up plenty of buzzsaw riffing in amongst the brilliant mix here as well; fitting as the album was finished up in Stockholm – one of the founding countries of death metal. Walker’s bass thunders as the bedrock of the song.

Surprises keep coming in the form of In Got We Trust. Pace aplenty ensures that this well wreck plenty of necks when performed live. Swathes of hair will be thrown in glee; but then…hand claps. Utilising all kinds of percussion, the band throw in collective hand claps. Not for the first time, the melodic skill that Carcass have is employed on Torn Arteries. It is this skill that sets Carcass apart. This is sure to be a live favourite.

Another call back to the bands past in a song title is Wake Up & Smell The Carcass (a compilation released in 1996). Jeff Walker is at his snarling best on the penultimate track. You can feel the menace seeping out of the song. It also adds another notch in the repulsive and grotesque that Carcass possess. Soloing of the highest order is once again added to the mix before the bludgeoning main groove returns.

The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing closes the album out. Chiming bells atop a lighter guitar line adds the tension to the song before reaper like riffs cut the song down to its gruesome tacks. This fast and furious paced closer bookends a truly monolithic album.

A quick note of praise must also be made towards the albums cover (he)art. Zbigniew Bielak has created a memorable image for Torn Arteries.

Although nearly a decade has passed since the last full length from Carcass, Torn Arteries shows that the band are still true masters of the game. Every aspect of Torn Arteries rips and fans of the band should rejoice in the album. As the old saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent. Carcass are full of class, and long may they reign.

View the video for Dance Of Ixtab below and read our interview with Bill Steer, here.

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