Album Review: CARCASS, Torn Arteries

by Nikita Alekseyevich Khrenov

When I reviewed the Despicable EP from Carcass, I mentioned how the band was well loved all across the board and they could still crank out quality songs, though being able to put out a short 4-track EP and making a full-length record are different beasts. The EP was a delightful appetizer, just enough to get the mouth watering but we now have to decide if the main course was worth waiting for.

Right off the bat, this record is definitely better than the EP would lead one to believe, though in a different way than expected. In contrast to Despicable, Torn Arteries takes a step back from the intense blasting sound that Carcass built their name on and focused on tight songwriting and groove. Don’t get me wrong, there are still really fast and heavy moments on this album but they’re much less frequent than one would expect.

Lead in by a fantastic drum fill we are treated to a delightful melodic riff before the thrashing begins. Instantly the head is banging and a circle pit forms in the mind of the listener as the band brings back the melodic intro. The song leads into a clean guitar arpeggio as things calm down for a brief moment, just to come back with a vengeance as Bill Steer rips into a rocking solo full of feel and masterful phrasing. In a lot of ways, this first track perfectly encapsulates everything about the record that follows.

Most of the tracks run at a mid-paced tempo but what they lack in speed they more than make up for in catchiness and groove. “Dance of Ixtab” kicks off with a psychedelic clean guitar intro before steady sixteenth notes chug along as Daniel Wilding (Drums) just has a blast behind the kit. “The Devil Rides Out” uses the harmonic minor scale to evoke a an almost Powerslave vibe with more straight heavy metal riffs and harmonized dueling guitars taking center stage. “Eleanor Rigby Mortis” starts and ends with another ripping solo from Mr. Steer but almost instantly hits the brakes to half the speed. Most of the song sits in the slower tempo but this only enhances the outro which brings cranks the speed right back up to conjure the coveted stankface reaction.

This doesn’t mean the band stays in this safe space, you still get some pretty blistering tracks from them as well. “Under a Scalpel Blade” from the Despicable EP returns here and fits snugly like a glove while “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” feels like it came straight out of Heartwork with a wonderful blend of old school ferocity with just enough melodic goodness to tickle you in just the right way and have you hitting repeat.

Carcass pulled a surprising move on Torn Arteries by including a lengthy  almost 10-minute track called “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited,” a very bold decision. This song has it all, haunting acoustic guitars, twin melodic guitars, pounding drums, groove, anything but the kitchen sink. The song maneuvers through passages fluidly eliminating any feeling of “is it over yet?”. While the song is impressive and doesn’t necessarily overstay it’s welcome, the band could have split it cleanly into two songs and still not lost any of the magic.

The group clearly cracked the code of being able to utilize every member’s influences and strengths to their fullest to create another fantastic album without falling back on what has worked before. For a band like Carcass who has been around for as long as they have, they could have easily done what worked for them in the past and relied on nostalgia to get listeners but instead they chose to push themselves and create something that captured where the band is in the present day. While not as consistently neck breaking as their early output; Torn Arteries is without a doubt a high quality record from a legendary band with plenty left in the tank.

Torn Arteries will be out on September 17th, 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records.

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