Liverpool surgically-obsessed stalwarts Carcass need little introduction, from their squelching gore-soaked grind roots up to 1994’s ‘Heartwork’, they were among the UK’s extreme metal elite. The band have influenced more bands than you can shake a viscera coated stick at, not least the aforementioned ‘Heartwork’, paving the way for countless melodic death metal bands to break into the mainstream consciousness.
All too soon they were gone, feared lost forever. In 2013 however they came raging back to life with ‘Surgical Steel’, sounding as scalpel-sharp as they ever had. Then it all went a bit quiet again until now. ‘Despicable’ serves as something of a taster for things to come, with a full-length due in 2021.
Opening track ‘The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue’ (a lovely little nod to the horror fanatics with Halloween on the horizon) settles any nerves from the outset if anyone was worried about a change to the winning formula the band have perfected over the years. It has all the band’s hallmarks splattered across it; Bill Steer’s trademark leadwork and Jeff Walker’s grizzled snarl are as crisp and vital as at any point in their career. ‘The Long and Winding Bier Road’ is catchy as hell, with an almost classic rock feel in parts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still heavy but this is a band that have long evolved beyond the confines of extreme metal and are totally comfortable adding in whatever influences they feel fit.
Alas, the 2nd half of the EP doesn’t quite have the flow of the first half. Don’t get me wrong, they’re well composed songs, but just feel a little like maybe they were album outtakes and the pacing feels like it could use a bit more variety. Whilst I’m sure there are many bands that would kill to write the last two songs here, it’s fine to hold a band of Carcass’ class to an extremely high standard, right?
Overall though, it’s a nice little way to remind us not to forget about one of the UK’s finest and serves as a lovely way to whet our appetite for the main course to come next year.
'Despicable' is out now via Nuclear Blast