Carcass - Symphonies Of Sickness
Earache Records
Grindcore, Goregrind
10 songs (43:06)
Release year: 1989
Earache Records
Reviewed by Goat

It's rather a pity for the Goregrind genre that the greatest thing it could come up with was released over twenty years ago. Originally, the genre was a masterpiece of modern art that took a steady, unflinching look at what really happens after you die, even the album cover being a collage of dead human flesh, but since its practitioners have turned it into an infantile joke, inventing such bastard creations as pornogrind and making what was revolutionary in the late 80s into a pointless dirge now. It's almost as if, having climbed the ladder of musical experimentation, the genre has now gone down the slide of pointless repetition, landing in a pit of rotten offal and putrid guts rather than the ball pool it was expecting. Yet most goregrind bands these days seem perfectly happy to wallow in their filth, shamelessly ripping off chunks from the original Carcass and disappearing up their own evolutionary cul-de-sac in front of an ever-dwindling fanbase - half of whom are only present to mock, of course, the Fox News of the musical world.

We can't castigate the originators for what happened afterwards, however; blaming Carcass for the likes of Fecalized Rectal Sperm Spewage makes as much sense as blaming Abraham Lincoln for Andrew Johnson. The intriguingly-titled Symphonies Of Sickness is an evolutionary mile beyond any of these immature assholes, helping to advance Grind beyond its purely extremist beginnings and acting as a centre point between two very important Carcass albums. I suppose you could describe it as the soundtrack to an autopsy gone very, very wrong, but I do feel that that dismisses the surprising technical skill shown by the band here. Carcass truly honed their disgusting sound, guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Ken Owen especially improving to create an excellent album, the latter practically reinventing his style of playing.

Not to denigrate Jeff Walker at all, of course, his carbonised retch is still at the forefront of Carcass' speedy shamble - this sounds more like a group of zombies playing Grind than anything else I've ever heard. Varied guitar riffing, deep rumbling basslines and precise drum beats combine and recombine, forming songs that seem as fluid and organic as anything you've ever thrown up after a long night on the booze. The sheer variety will impress anyone coming straight from Reek Of Putrefaction; the opening track alone (also titled Reek Of Putrefaction) twists and turns to the extreme, yet with a clearly audible Death Metal structure underpinning it all. Where most Grind bands of the time turned into Death Metal, Carcass merely sucked the newfangled genre into its maw and became one with it.

Grind this is, most definitely, but it's far from a shapeless mass. Exhume To Consume kicks off with a hint of the catchiness that we would see from Carcass in future years, with an enjoyable solo which completely shifts the mood. Seriously, if you ever rejected Grind as simplistic then you should listen to the likes of Excorating Abdominal Emanation, Bill Steer's technical guitar very impressive. Carcass were not a progressive band so much as a revolutionary one; there was nothing as advanced as this at the time, with Grind a speedy slap of brutality and even Death Metal still embryonic in 1989. And yet here was Carcass, cranking out the sort of Tech-Grind which would pave the way for the likes of Cephalic Carnage and Cattle Decapitation years later - of course, neither are as good, even twenty years later, which just goes to show what a classic Symphonies Of Sickness was. I still marvel at how ahead of their time the likes of Ruptured In Purulence are, that track driven by drum beats and rocking out in a way that even in Death Metal wouldn't come until the mid-90s, whilst Embryonic Necropsy And Devourment has a strange tint of melancholy to it - you can really hear the band experimenting with their sound, and the results are terrific. Of course, there are moments of speedy bile, Cadaveric Incubator Of Endo-Parasites for one, yet twists and turns are present in ever y single track, and it makes for a great album.

Going from minute-long blastfests into the sort of technical songwriting shown here with songs lasting up to and over five minutes, and in just a year to boot, would be highly impressive coming from any band, but it's for reasons like this that Carcass are legendary in the extreme metal world. Later albums from the band would increase the melodic and Death Metal aspects albums and are generally given more respect than Symphonies Of Sickness, but it's here that Carcass truly earned their status as musical innovators, pushing the underground towards the future and remaining one of the most underappreciated acts ever in the Metal world.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole is fantastic, but Exhume To Consume, Ruptured In Purulence, and Slash Dementia especially are highlights
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Carcass that we have reviewed:
Carcass - Torn Arteries reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Carcass - Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Carcass - Surgical Steel reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Carcass - Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
Carcass - Reek Of Putrefaction reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
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